The Marx Brothers
Marxology - A Night In Casablanca

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This film started life as Adventure In Casablanca and was preceded by a short tour principally in Army camps along the Pacific coast in August 1945 to get routines in shape and to memorize the material. Five comedy sketches were performed including a tailor-undressing bit followed by a burlesque duel skit, a dining scene, a Harpo-Chico pantomime and the packing-unpacking routine.

Filming started on 3 October and was finished in early December. The first version of the film ran for two hours. At the first proper preview in early January 1946, the film ran 113 minutes but was received unenthusiastically by audience and Marxes alike. Desperate cutting before the release on 10 May 1946 reduced the film to 85 minutes. Most of the cuts are visible in the finished film as quick fade outs.

Presented here are two scenes which appeared early in the film. They've been reconstructed thanks to an excerpt from Movie script, 3rd Partial Revision: September 5, 1945 in Simon Louvish' book Monkey Business and D.L. Ames' A Night In Casablanca - The Book of the Film, a novelization of the film published in England in 1946.

Desert View Hotel

This scene probably appeared about 10 minutes into the film after Governor Galoux and Captain Brizzard decided to send a telegram to the manager of the Desert View Hotel, offering him the post of manager of Hotel Casablanca.

Exterior desert, day. Only sand and sky are visible. Camera slowly pans to a hand-painted sign sticking in the sand, reading: 'FREE PARKING. This is the Desert View Hotel - out of the High Tent District'. Inside, another sign reads: 'Please close your tent flap before leaving'. Close shot - office. Groucho is revealed reclining on the mattress. He wears an ill-fitting white linen suite topped off by a red fez. Near him rests an elaborate oriental water-cooled pipe on which he is drawing, through a long corded tube. The pipe is rigged so that there is a cigar in the far attachment. A giant Arab emerges from the tent marked "2".

Groucho Ah! Mr Shrak Abdullah! [book: "Ah! Mr Shrak Siad"] Checking out, eh?

(Behind Mr Shrak a veiled, slim Arab girl emerges from the tent. Groucho bows)

And Mrs Shrak Abdullah!

(A second Arab girl appears, blushing)

And Mrs Shrak Abdullah!

(A third follows)

And Mrs Shrak Abdullah!

(This continues for a considerable number of Mrs Shrak Abdullahs, Groucho counting them on his fingers as they emerge)

Bungalow number 2, the bridal suite... [book: Let's see, Tent no.2, the bridal suite] Shrak Abdullah and twenty-eight wives for twenty-seven days

Mr Shrak No.

Groucho (corrrecting himself)...twenty-seven wives for twenty-eight days...

Mr Shrak Yes.

Groucho I'd have charge you for an extra wife if you weren't on your toes - and it takes quite a man to be on his toes with twenty-seven wives. I'd be on my heels. [That last phrase appears in the book as well but is crossed out on the script and replaced with: A guy's got to be charged up to have twenty-eight wives. That'll be a hundred and forty francs.]

(Mr Shrak pays and stalks off, followed by his long retinue of wives)

I don't envy him. Remember, every one of those wives has a mother!

(Groucho then finds a spare wife left sobbing in the bridal tent. He flings himself on the cushions beside her and consoles her)

Fine husband. He checks out of here and forgets you. Don't cry. I wouldn't worry about him. Men are ten cents a dozen...I wish women were.

Girl He'll come back for me.

Groucho Well, he'd better hurry. Remember, the management is not responsible for wives left over thirty days. (He adds passionately:) Don't be a fool, come away with me.

Girl I'll never leave here. I'm a part of Africa, and Africa is a part of me.

Groucho Well, at least I'm seeing the best part of Africa.

(Suddenly Mr Shrak is standing in the door of the tent)

What these tents need is a fire-escape.

(Groucho toys nervously with an hour-glass beside the couch, observes the running sand with sudden horror and slithers past Mr Shrak without pausing for further chit-chat)

Gad! Look at the time! A quarter to eleven!

(At the Office a honeymoon couple - i.e. a couple of blushing brides, one handsome young Arab groom and a camel who probably wasn't one of the party - are waiting to book accommodation)

Honeymoon, eh? You can have No. 2. It's still warm. As a matter of fact it got too hot for me. It's a lovely tent, with a fine view of the ocean.

Arab groom I see no ocean.

Groucho We're working on that. So far all we've got is the beach.

(Groucho indicates the Sahara Desert and the trio move off to the bridal tent)

What a lucky guy! Two wives. Any time he's in the mood he can play three-handed rummy.

(Groucho then receives the telegram from the Governor)

So they want me to take over the Casablanca Hotel! Why, I'll never leave this Hotel! I built it up from nothing. It's my old-age annuity - as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. Nobody can take it away from me.

(A sound of wind appears, followed by a sudden desert storm. The tornado sweeps everything away - archway, office, tents. Like the camel beside him, Groucho is buried up to his neck in desert sand. He raises his eyebrows)

I've thought the whole proposition over very carefully. I'll take the job.

Eine nacht mit Beatrice

The original title of this film in Austria was the rather dubious Eine nacht mit Beatrice, i.e. A Night with Beatrice!

Yellow Camel Taxi Service

Shortly after this, Groucho arrives in Casablanca and is greeted by Chico. After a short conversation about Chico's camel, the scene fades but here's the continuation:

Groucho What do you do with your camels? How do you rent them? By the hour?

Chico I just fill them up with water and they go for eight days.

Groucho What do you feed them?

Chico Peanuts - it's the healthiest food in the world.

Groucho How do you know?

Chico I was a monkey for three years.

Groucho (glancing at him doubtfully) It's been longer than that.
By the way, what are your rates?

Chico Twenty francs for a camel with two humps, and ten francs for a camel with one hump.

Groucho What do you charge for a camel with no humps?

Chico A camel with no humps is a horse. I gotta horse too, but the horse has a bump.

Groucho (eyeing the street below him wistfully) If I could get back down there I'd go that way.

Chico Don't worry about the price, Boss. Whatever you got - I take.

(They arrive at the hotel and is greeted by Harpo, who takes possession of Groucho's carpet-bag)

Groucho Be careful of that. Everything I own in the world is in that bag! (The bag flips open)

Chico Hey! That bag is empty.

Groucho That'll give you an idea what I own.

Chico (returning to business) That'll be one hundred francs, Boss.

Groucho But the meter says fifty francs.

Chico Yeh, but I told you. It's double for a camel with two humps.

(Groucho gives up and pays but behind his back Chico removes one detachable hump. Meanwhile, Harpo produces a whisk broom and begin violently to brush what remains of Groucho's threadbare suit)

Groucho Hey, get away from me. What's the idea? What do you do anyway?

(Harpo pulls out a red-hot iron from his trousers, wets his forefinger and touches the iron with a little phut)

Chico That's what he does, Boss. He's a valet.

Groucho But he was trying to undress me.

Chico That's his business. He dresses and undresses the Count. Rusty's got a very tough job - the Count's got a lot of clothes. He makes sixteen changes a day.

Groucho What's so wonderful about that? I did that when I was three months old.

The Italian dub

The first Italian dub of this movie from 1950 is interesting since it replaced the music in the film with Italian tunes. Thus, the sheet music above was sold as music from "Una Notte a Casablanca con i fratelli Marx" and included the tunes Dice un proverbio by Morbelli & Frandy, Da quell'istante by Pinchi & Taccani, Con un sogno by Tettoni & Rossi plus Tu non sai by Poletto & Rossi.

To overdub not just the dialogue but also the music was once a common practice in Italy, and other examples of this is the tune Shine on Harvest Moon from Laurel & Hardy's film The Flying Deuces (1939), which was replaced by A Zonzo (like Dice un proverbio also written by Riccardo Morbelli) in the Italian version. As late as in 1963, the Italian version of Jean-Luc Godard's film Contempt (starring Brigitte Bardot) replaced George Delerue's musical score with a completely different score written by Piero Piccioni.