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Step back in time to see what area movie theaters were presenting in April 1943. Film titles are linked to the Internet Movie Database.
The World War II romantic drama Casablanca opened in Detroit on Friday, April 9, 1943, at the Michigan (Bagley at Grand River). It had earlier premiered in New York City on November 26, 1942 (Thanksgiving Day).
"The human triangle without which dramatists would be hard put comes to the fore in 'Casablanca' to provide taut drama," wrote Len G. Shaw in The Detroit Free Press on April 10, 1943. "It also affords Humphrey Bogart opportunity to do some of his best acting, with lovely Ingrid Bergman as the object of his genuine love that comes to naught but [for] a display of heroics quite foreign to his usual attitude. It is all available at the Michigan, and, on the whole, provides engrossing diversion, with a Nazi touch that is not overemphasized."
"Much of the season still remains, and many more entries are on the way, but you can jot it down that 'Casablanca' is ticketed for a certain place among the 10 best of the year," wrote Al Weitschat in The Detroit News on April 10, 1943. "History-making events of the war have plastered the name of Casablanca all over the world's newspapers. The picture must have something too, and 'Casablanca' has it, and how! Romance, adventure and intrigue move against a tropical background with breath-taking reality."
Also at the Michigan with Casablanca was the second feature My Heart Belongs to Daddy (Richard Carlson, Martha O'Driscoll, Cecil Kellaway). Casablanca played at the Michigan until April 22, then moved to the Broadway-Capitol on April 23, where it stayed until May 13.
Other downtown Detroit movies on April 9, 1943 included Andy Hardy's Double Life (Mickey Rooney, Lewis Stone, Esther Williams) at the Broadway-Capitol; The Amazing Mrs. Holliday (Deanna Durbin) at the Fox; Margin for Error (Joan Bennett, Milton Berle) at the Adams; Gentleman Jim (Errol Flynn, Alexis Smith) at the Madison; Forever and a Day (Ray Milland, Ida Lupino, Brian Aherne, Robert Cummings) at the Palms-State; and Keeper of the Flame (Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn) at the United Artists.
Also that day, the Redford opened at 6:15 p.m. for a double bill of You Were Never Lovelier (Rita Hayworth, Fred Astaire) and Flying Tigers (John Wayne, John Carroll). A newspaper ad for the Roxy (Woodward at Temple) read, "DEFENSE WORKERS! OPEN 24 HOURS EVERY DAY! COME ANY TIME AND SEE A COMPLETE SHOW!" The Roxy was screening You Were Never Lovelier and Silver Queen (Priscilla Lane, George Brent).
Casablanca later played at the Redford June 25-28, 1943, along with The Meanest Man in the World (Jack Benny, Priscilla Lane), followed on June 29 by Tarzan Triumphs (Johnny Weissmuller, Frances Gifford) and Lady Bodyguard (Anne Shirley, Eddie Albert). Casablanca also screened at the Redford on July 9-10, 1977, as part of the opening weekend of the Classic Film Series that has continued for 35 years.
Ann Arbor audiences were treated to the opening of Casablanca at their Michigan theater on Sunday, March 28, 1943. It played for one week, until April 3, along with the Merrie Melodie cartoon Fifth Column Mouse. It followed a run of Random Harvest (Greer Garson, Ronald Colman) and was succeeded by Keeper of the Flame (Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn).
Also playing in Ann Arbor at this time were the Walt Disney animated feature Bambi at the State ("Ann Arbor's Newest Theatre"); Strictly in the Groove (Leon Errol, Ozzie Nelson and his orchestra) at the Whitney; Panama Hattie (Red Skelton, Ann Sothern) at the Wuerth; and Billy Wilder's The Major and the Minor (Ginger Rogers, Ray Milland) at the Orpheum.
Click here to see a PDF of newspaper images relating to the opening of Casablanca.
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