On the Set

ON THE SET: CASABLANCA

Around the House: Casablanca  |  7th House on the Left

I love making these “Around the House” posts. It’s a fun way to put together mood boards that are completely out of my and Greg’s “style comfort zone” while getting a chance to talk about some of our favorite films and TV shows. For this edition, we’re going with a classic…

Being Humphrey Bogart’s first romantic lead role, Warner Brothers wasn’t expecting Casablanca to be a big hit at the box office. Nevertheless, it was nominated for eight Academy Awards that year, won three and is now considered to be one of the greatest films of all time. Rather than going “around the house”, we’re gaining design inspiration from the iconic café, Rick’s – which is basically like Humphrey Bogart’s character’s house anyway, so we’re still in the same boat. The lofty night club was actually a sound stage at Warner Brothers. The set designer was George James Hopkins, who also worked on a lot of my other favorite films like Hello Dolly, My Fair Lady and Dial M for Murder.

The shape of the neon sign nicely ties in with the Moroccan details throughout the rest of the café. I love the coziness of the courtyard as well as the detailing on the large entry doors.

Oh, Sam. He’s the piano player for the café, sings a killer rendition of “As Time Goes By” and is responsible for the popular line, “Play it, Sam”. Though, in reality, he didn’t actually play the piano! When the movie was being filmed, a piano player sat off camera and during the scenes, Sam (played by Dooley Wilson) would mimic his hand placement on the keys. It’s said that up until the last minute before filming, the director was thinking about switching him out for a female character played by Ella Fitzgerald. Even though I’m an Ella fan, Casablanca wouldn’t have been the same without Sam. Back to design talk! I love the curved ceilings throughout the café. I also love the enormous amount of hanging lanterns. They are everywhere throughout the film – even in the military offices!

In the back of the café is Rick’s office. Not only does it have yet another cool lantern, but some really interesting furniture pieces as well. Like the lanterns, the ornate decorative screens (like the one to the left of this shot) are in what seems like every scene in the movie. I also noticed that there seem to be a lot of metal candlesticks – especially in Rick’s office.

Here’s another great example of the decorative screens. The bead-trimmed table lights on each table throughout the café are very 1940’s and bring a lot of ambiance to the atmosphere. If you ever plan on having a Casablanca-themed party, they are a must have!

And here we have even more hanging lanterns – though this time they are hanging from brackets on the wall. Check out the cool shadow they make! I also really like all of the geometric elements, like the design in the doors and the tiled floor. The height of the doors and the large-scale tiles make the set seem so much larger than what it probably is – which is a trick you could easily use in home design as well.

I couldn’t do a post about Casablanca without including a shot from the famous airport scene! I recently read that Ingrid Bergman was at least two inches taller than Humphrey Bogart, so the director had him stand on boxes or sit on cushions during their scenes together. Oh, another fun side note… In 2004, a former American diplomat in Morocco opened an actual Rick’s Café in Casablanca, Morocco. The inside is a bit lighter than in the movie, but it still has lanterns, ornate furnishings, curved ceilings and an in-house piano player that plays “As Time Goes By” several times a night.

1. Hanging Lantern Candle Holder ($16.99) | 2. Carved Ebonized Mirror ($200) | 3. Caper Elliott Wingback Chair ($329.99) | 4. Laila Moroccan Nesting Tables ($307.99) | 5. Fez Platter ($49), Update: No longer available, oops! Here’s an alternative. | 6. Tribal Carved Coffee Table ($299) | 7. Kantha Diagonal Stripe Pillow Cover ($24.99) | 8. Found Turkish Rug ($2,499)

Now it’s your turn, are you digging the Casablana set design? What’s your all time favorite film?

Oh, and I have to say it at least once… “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.” ; )

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15 Comments

  • Reply
    Naomi
    August 3, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    I love this movie! I absolutely adore the mirror you picked out 🙂 Great post.

    ♥ Naomi {Starry Eyes + Coffee Cups}

  • Reply
    Caitlin @ Desert Domicile
    August 3, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    I love the design you created! I can’t believe that chair is only $330 and I think a cluster of those tea light holders hung at different lengths could make some gorgeous mood lighting over a dining room table 🙂

  • Reply
    Angela
    August 3, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    I love this post! So much fun!!

  • Reply
    lindsey @ A Pear to Remember
    August 3, 2012 at 2:10 pm

    Dial M for Murder is indeed one of the greats! I adore this mood board, would make a room in a second!! As far as old movies go, I never tire of All About Eve, How to Marry a Millionaire, Bringing Up Baby… oh the list goes on!

  • Reply
    Ashley {GirlyObsessions}
    August 3, 2012 at 2:26 pm

    I love your Around the House collections, too! I love this one, but I especially LOVE the pilllows!!

  • Reply
    Christina @ Homemade Ocean
    August 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    I love when you do movie mood boards!

    You actually inspired me to make my first mood board, and let me tell you if my photo shop skills were up to par I’d be making those bad boys left and right!!!!

    Thanks for being an inspiration 🙂

  • Reply
    Synlawn of San Diego
    August 3, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    Soooo love the Casablanca loooooook!

  • Reply
    Sofia
    August 3, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    I love old posters, they looks so beautiful! You should make a post like this about the tv series mad men!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 3, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      I’ve had a few people tell me that! Adding it to the list : )

  • Reply
    Aimee P
    August 4, 2012 at 2:21 am

    I so enjoy your “Around the House” posts. I’m always amazed at how well you knock off “the look”. Keep it up! It’s a favorite of this gal!

  • Reply
    Christine H
    August 7, 2012 at 7:39 pm

    I’ve never seen the film before, maybe I will someday! But, I’m heading to Morocco in the fall, including a stay in Casablanca and a visit to Rick’s Cafe. Very excited, but also very excited by this post, especially the mood board!

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 8, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Sounds like a fun trip! You must watch the movie before you go! : )

  • Reply
    Mark
    August 22, 2013 at 2:20 pm

    For a hot minute, Turner Home Movies was going to open their flagship store at The Grove in Los Angeles –until it turned out the Barnes & Noble had the exclusive rights to sell DVDs at the mall). For several months, then company exhibited some of the ACTUAL props from “Casablanca” …including the piano! Alas, they didn’t have the space or inclination to do a complete re-creation of the set, but there were enough photos from the studios on display with the memorabilia…

    • Reply
      Ashley
      August 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      No way! I would have loved to have seen that.

  • Reply
    Leigh c
    July 20, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    Great page, am sending the link to my brother who loves Casablanca.

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