October 1, 2014

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Catch top flick number 5 on Turner Classic Dec. 6
Written by Bill Baird   
Tuesday, November 27, 2012 9:44 PM

My number five movie that everyone should see at least once in their lifetime is the classic Casablanca (1942), which you have the chance to see on Turner Classic Movies on Thursday, Dec. 6, at 8 p.m.

This film was the favorite of my grandchildren Ethan, Lexis and Tanner Dole’s late grandmother Geraldine “Gerry” Dole.

She told me this many years ago. This great film stars Humphrey Bogart (1899-1957) and Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982), falling in love in pre-war Paris, thinking her husband Paul Henreid (1908-1992) had been killed.

As the Nazi’s approach Paris on a rainy night, they plan to meet at the train station to flee the invasion, but she doesn’t show up due to finding out Henreid is alive.

Bogart winds up in Casablanca in French Morocco and opens a gambling night club.

A huge bunch of colorful characters keeps the film interesting. Claude Rains (1889-1967) is the French police captain and Conrad Veidt (1893-1943) is the Nazi major in his next to last film.

Vienna born Helmut Dantine (1918-1982) plays a young newlywed instead of a Nazi officer he normally played in films.

Drummer Dooley Wilson (1886-1953) plays Sam. Wilson couldn’t play the piano in real life. He fakes playing As Time Goes By by watching the actual player off camera.

Bergman and Henreid show up seeking Bogart’s help in getting out of the country.

Since the war prohibited lighted airports after dark, the plane at the end of the film is a small cardboard cutout on a soundstage with midget workmen to look full size from a distance.

Does Bergman stay with Bogart or go with Henreid? If you are one of the extremely rare people who have never seen the film, I will never tell. The last line in the film as they were walking away was Bogart telling Rains, “Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Many years ago, there was a hillbilly song about a guy leaving his southern roots to find a job in Detroit.

3-day weekend
On a recent three-day weekend three vans left with two teachers, two mothers and 16 Harrison High School students, including my senior granddaughter Lexis Dole, venturing to attend a DECA group business leadership conference there.

They stayed on the 29th floor of a 70-story downtown hotel. Among the things on their agenda was a tour of the Ford Motor Company River Rouge automobile plant.

They parked at the Henry Ford Museum to catch a bus to the factory which wasn’t working on that day.

Their trip didn’t include a visit to the museum which would have required much more time.

Their trip brought back memories from more than 60 years ago when I ventured to Detroit City, not once but twice. When I was there more than 60 years ago the Ford River Rouge plant was the largest most complete automobile plant in the world, making a car from iron ore into the sleek new Fords.

I was about the age that Lexis is now the first time I ventured to Detroit via Greyhound bus. My late drinking buddy, Ken, who had worked there, but had returned to the hills, told me where to get a room and eat on Salina Street in Dearborn.

No job offers
Due to being draft age, I couldn’t get a job and returned to Tennessee with some guys going home for the weekend. When a male turned 18 in those days he had to register for the draft.

This meant that if the military needed men they could make you serve whether you wanted to or not.

In 1950, I ventured to Detroit again. This time wasn’t via Greyhound bus, but Ken and I followed a Greyhound bus at 80 miles per hour through Kentucky at night on his 1946 Harley Davidson 74.

This was the time I first saw the murder mystery Laura (1944), starring Gene Tierney (1920-1991) and Dana Andrews (1909-1992). I loved the haunting theme tune Laura composed by David Raksin (1912-2004) so much I named our first born Laura.

I saw this in a downtown Detroit all-night theater which cost perhaps 50 cents. Guys down on their luck who couldn’t afford a room would go to the all-night movies to sleep. In 1950, they seldom, if ever, got mugged.

My job situation hadn’t changed due to the draft. I was told to check with my local draft board and they could tell me when I would be called to serve. I went back south with Ken’s mom, dad and 11-year-old sister Janie, who had been visiting relatives.

Ken stayed in Detroit. By some goof-up, my draft board had me already in the Army and I would never have been drafted even if the commies