As Time Goes By
The Music of Casablanca
In theatre, music has always played a specific and well-defined role: certainly in vaudeville and revue and all related forms, in operetta and Broadway musical comedy and theatre. But rarely in the rest of the theatrical; definitely not in its more serious forms. This is not the case at all with film. From the earliest days, music was there, supporting the drama, heightening the comedy, shaping the emotions of the audience as much as the images, action and, after 1927, dialog. So celebrating the role of music and, in particular, of the classic Songbook in Hollywood cannot reasonably be limited to a survey of film musicals, comedies and other parallels of essentially Broadway forms, but needs to include everything Hollywood, and not the least, deadly serious romances, adventures, dramatic properties that classic Broadway wouldn't have dreamed of setting to music. In Hollywood, if there was a way that music could be used to advance the story, hook the audience, or shape its reaction it was done; sometimes clumsily, often brilliantly, usually unobtrusively, almost always effectively, and nearly omnipresently.
There are so many superb examples of Hollywood do this well that it's hard to know where to begin. So we offer you one of the classics -- Warner Brothers' legendary 1942 romantic drama Casablanca. Everyone knows "As Time Goes By" and can't really hear the melody without picturing a dewy-eyed Ingrid Bergman. Possibly as many can vaguely recall the showdown between the Nazi occupiers and French citizens at Rick's Cafe to the competing strains of "Die Vacht am Rhein" and "La Marseillaise". What most of us don't realize is that Max Steiner's superb score features, beyond his own highly effective composing, a total of 20 popular songs, embedded in the underscoring and foregrounded in the scenic fabric of pre-occupation Paris and Rick's Place in northern Africa. Ken and company offer up 15 of these songs, featuring Siri Vik, Byron Stripling, Bill Hulings and Ian Whitcomb.
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