Rembrandt Drawing at a Window (1648),
detail of a drawing, Rembrandt van Rijn
The narrator of Sonny's Blues is the "good-son" brother of a jazz pianist, Sonny. The brothers have taken different
paths and grieve at their estrangement. Sonny invites his brother to accompany him to a jazz club where he is performing. In Sonny's music is the center of the narrator's being. Sonny's Blues ends mystically. The Scotch and milk the narrator sends to the bandstand to commune with his brother transforms, in five last words, into "the very cup of trembling." The phrase derives from the prophecies of Isaiah. It is where men encounter God.
The Jazz Monitors. January 5, 1957
Sonny plays the jazz classic,"Am I Blue?" that Ethel Waters introduced to movies in On With the Show (1929). For 30 years, everyone sang it. It was a Rorschach test of personality. Libby Holman sings it here in 1929. Al Jolson performs it on radio here in 1949.
Read it. Learn it. Do it.
On August 7, 1942, producer Hal Wallis dictated a memo to Owen Marks, who was editing Casablanca:
"There are also to be wild lines made by Bogart. Mike is trying to get Bogart today, but if he does not succeed, will you get Bogart in within the next couple of days."
Wallis's second alternative line has Captain Renault thinking that "this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
Archetypal Ending: I Cover the Waterfront (1933),
dir. James Cruze
Archetypal Ending: The Third Man (1949),
dir. Carol Reed
A good ending answers the question, stated or unstated, that impels the story. In Casablanca, the question is this:
" In the person of Rick Blaine, will America awaken?"
When Rick asks it, the question below seems an absent-minded thought about a wrist watch. But the question orients Casablanca. As the Scottsboro Boys did throughout the 30s, from 1939 to 1941 the question oriented the moral compass of America.
Rick: Sam, if it's December 1941 in Casablanca, what time is it in New York?
Sam: Uh, my watch stopped.
Rick: I bet they're asleep in New York. I bet they're asleep all over America.
It was a year to the month before the action in Casablanca. Throughout 1940, America maintained neutrality in the war. Americans largely thought of the turmoil then as news dispatches, radio static, and Speed Graflex photos. In a broadcast on the BBC, Churchill beseeched Italians that day to overthrow Mussolini. The German Luftwaffe was above Manchester, vaporizing Britain's second city.
You Did It Then: “No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft,” H.G. Wells reputedly said.
Over selected stills from the ending of Casablanca,re-write the dialogue to get Rick, not Victor, on that plane with Ilse. Step-by-step instructions and the files you’ll need are here.