Study Guide

Casablanca Director

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In his career, director Michael Curtiz directed 172 films. We can't think of anything we've done 172 times. Then again, we're not thinking all that hard.

Other than Casablanca, only his Mildred Pierce received comparable critical acclaim, but you can't keep getting work in Hollywood if all you're turning in are duds. Curtiz was also the man behind such well known and much loved films as White Christmas, The Adventures of Robin Hood, and The Jazz Singer. Throughout his nearly 50-year career in the biz, he ran the gamut in terms of genre, style, and quality. But unlike many of his contemporaries, you couldn't quite pin him down.

His résumé—as well as his approach to his craft—was all over the place.

Which is, perhaps, why he didn't go down in history as one of the foremost directors of his time. He isn't really mentioned in the same breath as guys like John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock, even if he is responsible for just as many iconic films as those hacks. But with a guy like Hitchcock, you knew what you were getting. He had a vibe all his own. Curtiz' directing style was constantly changing. He was exceptionally versatile—the Edward Norton of classical Hollywood directors.

But Casablanca was undoubtedly the feather in his cap. Everything came together on that project. Kinda like that one year Michael Jordan was incredible at basketball.

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