As time goes by: Hollywood classic Casablanca's iconic piano up for sale

  • Gautaman Bhaskaran, Hindustan Times
  • Updated: Aug 09, 2014 18:40 IST

Can anyone, anyone at all, forget the piano in Casablanca? The piano that was almost a character in the 1942 Michael Curtiz-directed film will be up for auction at New York's Bonhams this November. The piano, which created magic moments in character Sam's rendering of As Time Goes By, may go on to trigger dewy eyes in the buyer - much in the same way it did in Humphrey Bogart's (Richard) and Ingrid Bergman's (Ilsa) at Rick's Café Americain in the city of Casablanca (Morocco) during World War II.

The piano is expected to fetch a seven-figure sum, and the instrument, which is still in perfect working condition, was used as recently as 2006 in a Max Steiner concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The event was to celebrate Casablanca's music.

There are many other items used in Casablanca that are still owned privately. They include the doors in Rick's Cafe, passports and papers created for the movie, and the final draft of the screenplay. Catherine Williamson of Bonhams described these as "one of the most significant film memorabilia collections still in private hands".

There is something else that will remind all of the classic film. It is Rick's Café, a restaurant in Casablanca.

A former American diplomat thought that it would be a splendid idea to open a restaurant in Casablanca and call it Rick's Café American. Kathy Kriger was part of the US Consulate in the city, and after her assignment was over, she used her power to cut through Moroccan red tape to get the café going. And it has been there for about a decade now, and those who throng it never tire of admiring the similarity between the set that Hollywood put up and Kriger's Rick's Café Americain.

(Hollywood never went to Casablanca to shoot the film. It created sets in its own backyard to resemble the city and the café.)

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