STEAMING TO CASABLANCA


 


So how did Steaming to Casablanca evolve?  

Interesting story. In the course of conversation with my late sister Maureen, she mentioned Casablanca was her favorite movie. It is a great movie indeed; considered by Hollywood rankings as America’s second best, Movie Citizen Kane ranked number one. I sent her the script…read it myself…You pick up points reading a script that you might miss in the movie. Strasser, as you might remember, if you saw the movie, like most, 50 million times, The Nazi Gestapo Agent pulls out his black book and reads …Rick Blaine, born in N.Y., 37 years old, emigrated to France 1932, fought in the Spanish Civil War, Café owner in Paris before coming to Casablanca 1940, owns a Café known as Rick’s place…I was not aware, probably like most missed that scene; but, it made an impression on me reading the script, I was an American Merchant Marine Seaman. One of the ships I sailed on was one of the last Steam ships…now most are Diesel powered. A break bulk ship, not container… taking cargo off was time consuming and laborious. Today replaced by diesel container ships that are in and out of Port quickly. A steam bulk might be in port well over a week…usually close to the city area unlike container ships way out of town…port time on a container ship maybe 12 hrs; so, the port time, on a bulk ship proximate to the city area made the story possible. The ship I was on the Tampa Bay, I loved that ship, not only because I lived in Tampa Bay, but because a steam ship is so quiet and speaking as a naval architect she had a low center of gravity that made it a dream to steer into port... When I first came aboard sailing as able seaman, flying into Houston Texas, coming up the gangway I was met with the familiar Sailing Board. Chalked in on the small blackboard, Sail: 1600; below Destination: Casablanca… seeing that destination in front of my eyes gave me an aire of excitement of mystery and adventure. Coming out of Houston, if you can drive well down the ship canal, it's quite an experience…you are a well-qualified Quartermaster. Repeating what I said, she handled like a dream. She was riding high. Two bow holds were empty till we reached Galveston, at the entry or exit of the ship canal before the Gulf of Mexico, there we loaded in bulk, wheat, the other 3 holds pallets of flour and corn destined for African trade… In the screenplay I aptly changed the ship's name to the African Trader… It was a long sail; I forget how many days maybe nine or ten. A ship like that sails on a fairly slow bell; a few days across the Gulf of Mexico, then across the Atlantic Ocean… when you approach the Straits of Gibraltar, you are getting close maybe a day or so south of Tangier on the African side. A few hours on the hook waiting for the pilot, then a couple of hours to be secured at the dock. It was this experience, multiple trips from Houston to Casablanca that made the story possible. The crew has nothing to do with loading or unloading cargo directly, so there is plenty of free time in port… Since weekends are all overtime for the crew, most of the unlicensed crew would take the weekend off…Some of course would work to earn the weekend overtime…So for the main characters Tyler and Terry it explains their free time, coupled with a long stay for cargo operations. Casablanca was written in 1942 by the Epstein Bros. Jack Warner stepped in toward the conclusion. They were actually in Production and still writing the script. It was brilliant… but with Rick and Captain Renault leaving as they did, it suggested a sequel in the future. I was in the French equivalent to Walmart in Tahiti, Carrefour. Over by the DVDs they had a small feature section of Marlon Brando movies, he a resident there after making Mutiny on the Bounty. One DVD cover stood out to me ON THE WATERFRONT a classic written by Budd Schulberg 1954; considered one of the top ten greats. I probably, as a merchant seaman, identified; retired now, on my own boat… Terry Malloy seaman now working for the ILA… Intl. Long Shoreman’s Union, whom I worked for as a Merchant Marine Officer... waiting for a ship while in Seattle, through Masters, Mates and Pilots an associated Union…so the seeds for the Screenplay were planted. On long sails alone at sea I sometimes adopt imaginary crew members. In spirit they do become real…I knew it was not going to be an easy sail from Tahiti to Am. Samoa 1300 miles, where I thought I’d have time to make needed repairs. The French wanted me out…my Visa expiring…I was met with bad weather and an anticipated 11-day sail turned into 34 days alone at sea before limping into Port in Am. Samoa…To show what side of sanity or insanity one is in…I would listen on My MP3 to Taj Mahal. There was one song he did which always made me laugh… There was a Tuba with an Um…Pa… Pa… rhythm beat with the lyrics… “Someday I’m going to Cake Walk into Town” that’s the way I felt and on day 34 I did. On day 25 in particularly bad weather…where at-last, a lucky break, I had an opportunity to go below at night in very bad weather,  below I literally passed out on my bunk, woke up, the storm had passed, still in a dazed sleep, my head raised off the pillow, I said to myself who’s on the wheel?… “Terry is” and went back to sleep. That’s how real imaginary crew members become. I said to Terry on deck, he would often tell me "I could have been a contender”... a dramatic dialog in the Screenplay ON THE WATERFRONT we would talk at night sometimes and  I would say that if we made it, I will make him Light Heavy Weight Champion of the World…And I DID…little did I know I would also bring Rick Blaine safely back To N.Y. C. On the African Trader no less…I was so much into this that I bought boxing gloves and it became part of my work out routine at the Am. Samoa gym…with hand wraps and my gloves working the Big Bag. A Humorous Aside: While I was on Facebook, Jeff Bezos sent a friend request to me…going to his page I was struck that he was, very passionate over his Alumni Princeton. There are two brothers in the story line… Tyler a staring role figure, Mitch a featured role…Brothers, Both attorneys from Harvard…I told Jeff how powerful I am as a writer (LOL) I changed their alma maters to Princeton with a stroke of a pen.

Green button below synopsis: Steaning to Casablanca PRESS


 

NEED I SAY MORE?