When Casablanca was filming on the Warner lot during the summer of 1942, no one guessed that it would turn out to be among the most lasting of Hollywood classics. Made in the era of the studio system, during which movies were churned out in something like assembly-line fashion, the film earned solid box office and garnered generally positive reviews from critics when it was released in January 1943. Indeed, director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich regards what he calls the most “enduring cosmic lucky accident in picture history” as “the single favorite vindication of the studio system . . . because there is no other way Casablanca could have been made and worked as well.”
Today, it stands as a captivating portrait of America's reluctance to get involved in World War II, even if the bombing of Pearl Harbor had resolved our ambivalence by the time the film was released, and as a reminder that sometimes the problems of three little people do, after all, amount to more than a hill of beans in this crazy world.