Two words: Ingrid. Bergman.
The following is a synopsis by Frederick Stephani (who co-wrote and directed the popular 1936 “Flash Gordon” serial for Universal Pictures) presented to Hal Wallis as a suggested sequel to CASABLANCA tentatively titled “Brazzaville.” The title was a reference to Claude Rains’ line in the final scene of the film: “There’s a free French garrison over at Brazzaville. I could be induced to arrange a passage.”
Pickup where Casablanca ended – at the airport. Rains has just given orders to pickup the “usual suspects” as he and Bogart enter the car.
Arriving at Bogart place, they find the German delegation awaiting them. They demand that Rains either arrest Bogart or turn him over to them for questioning. Bogart prefers arrest. Rains smiles; looks at his watch. It is six o’clock. He inquires from his aide, who has arrived with the Germans, how long it will take to get a cable exchange with Vichy. Six hours. Rains asks on what grounds the Germans demand Bogart’s arrest. They give some cooked up charges. Rains reminds them that Casablanca is still a free territory and that they will have to substantiate any charges made, innocently adding that anyone in Casablanca has the right to prefer charges but if they are later unable to prove them, it will cause Rains serious trouble. Confident that Rains, a Vichy man, is completely on their side, the cocky Germans fail to notice the wink Rains gives his pal, Bogart. Bogart takes the hint and trumps up some charges against the Germans. Rains, apparently finding Bogart’s charges more valid than those preferred by the Germans, promptly arrest them. Shocked and furious, they threatened a quick and devastating revenge. Rains is unperturbed – remains urbane and friendly – even offers them the privilege, which they accept, of using the wires to Vichy to launch their complaints. Bogart can’t understand what the cocky Frenchman is up to.
Later in Rains office, Bogart tries to find out what’s up but Rains advices him to give his attention to their game of chess. He also remains cooly indifferent to the stream of complaints launched by his German prisoners.
A few minutes before midnight a wireless is received from Vichy demanding the release of the German officers and Bogart’s arrest. Rains orders the Germans brought in, and, adding to Bogart’s bewilderment, reads the message to them with considerable relish. Ignoring the triumphant Germans, he turns to Bogart and asks casually whether Americans are usually prompt in keeping their appointments. More puzzled than ever, Bogart replies that if the appointment is important they never miss. Rains smiles grimly. It’s important all right; at least for him and Bogart for it means their necks. Nobody can make any sense out of Rains’ double talk… but a few seconds later, on the stroke of midnight, a terrific salvo is heard.
Rains steps to the window and opens it. The view is an exciting one (stock shots of landing). War ships are bombarding the harbor.
Smiles of satisfaction spread over the German faces. The German Navy will teach this French swine a lesson and prove what nation is master of the seas! Commenting that the flags from those ships don’t look to him like the swastika, Rains hands the binoculars to one of the officers. Verpflucht! The flags are the Stars and Stripes and the English Union Jack! The Germans attempt to get away but Rains gives the guy who called the French swine a good punch right on the button – orders Bogart to take charge of the rest of them as he, Rains must hurry to hoist a white flag before too much damage is done. With some zestful remark regarding American punctuality, Rains dashes out while Bogart herds the Germans back to their cells… FADE OUT.
We FADE IN the following morning with stock shots of American troops landing, jubilantly received by the natives. Bogart’s place is going full blast. Sam, the Negro, is back at the piano. Drinks are on the house.
Rains, now clad in the uniform of the Free French and accompanied by some American officers, arrives. Bogart ushers them into his private office. Here we learn for the first time that Bogart has been more than a gambling and coffee-house proprietor. He has played an important role in preparing the natives for the American occupation. The American officers are no strangers to him. Rains and Bogart have a good laugh at their own expense as neither knew the other was working for the same cause. Their friendship had been built only on mutual admiration.
Bogart expresses relief and satisfaction that it is now possible, with his mission accomplished, to return to the United States. Not yet, he is told. Another job awaits him. In fact, it is his pal, Rains, that has recommended him so highly for the job. For this friendly gesture, Rains receives a kick under the table, but he continues to smile and lifts his glass in a toast to his pal. The officers leave after securing Bogart’s promise to report to headquarters the following morning.
At American headquarters the following morning, Bogart is advised of his mission. United States land-lease supply ships destined for Russia and Turkey continue to be sunk with such regularity despite constant change of route, that it is now a certainty sailing orders are tipped off to the enemy. All indications point to Tangiers as headquarters of the sabotage ring
(NOTE: the background for the story from here on can be laid at any vulnerable spot along the Mediterranean – say Spanish Morocco or Tangiers. For the sake of expedience, let us use Tangiers, that international strip of territory bordering on the Straight of Gibraltar.)
Arriving in Tangiers under the guise of having left American occupied territory because of his record, which could not stand scrutiny, Bogart quickly contacts the international set. Apparently in possession of large funds, he lives in the best hotels and has no difficulty in making friends. In the fact that he is not persona grata with the American Consul and diplomatic corps does not seem to disturb him. In the privacy of Bogart’s apartment, however, many of them patronize his big gambling games. He will take any wager and open any game. Very soon one of the Consular employees is on the hook for so much money that Bogart forces him to furnish American visas, which he sells for outrageous prices. (Later we see that all who purchase visas are either plants or arrested before they can make use of them.) Bogart sees to it that the squeeze game, played with the consular official is overheard by his man-servant, Carlos, whom he suspects is in German pay.
His hunch is right. Carlos passes the information on to the doorman, who in turn passes it on to a taxi driver, etc., the information finally reaching the apartment of beautiful Spanish woman, Maria.
Maria, a Mata Hari of this war or the Fraulein Doktor of the last war, has been educated in Germany. She is a fanatic Franco fascist who, at the constant risk of life and fortune (her activities unknown to her native country, if you wish) has become a powerful pawn in the German espionage ring. At present she is the mistress of Count von Doren, a German official who, because of his position, enjoys diplomatic immunity (Counterpart of Conrad Veidt). Actually, von Doren is the brain and guiding hand in the espionage ring but is unknown as such even to its members, with the exception of Maria who is the nominal head.
Maria is a worthy match for Bogart. She doesn’t trust his “plant” and plans to meet the man in order to judge for herself. Managing an introduction through some mutual acquaintance, Maria and Bogart immediately cross wits. Bogart realizes he’s playing with a fire and Maria by no means underestimates him.
In Casablanca, meanwhile, Bergman – now free – has returned to find Bogart. Her husband, as the result of the hardships suffered in concentration camps (or murdered by some spy) has died in Lisbon. Bergman secures information regarding Bogart’s whereabouts from Sam, the Negro. Rains realizes her presence in Tangiers might defeat Bogart’s mission and pleads with her not to go. Knowing Rains will prevent her departure from Casablanca, she forestalls his move by disappearing. Finding her gone, Rains notifies French and American intelligence and asks for leave, which is granted, to intercept her.
Bogart has made considerable progress with Maria in Tangiers; is now her lover. However, neither has succeeded in penetrating their superficial intimacy. It is Count von Doren who forces Maria to make the first move. They require an American passport for one of their men. When she approaches Bogart he declares that for a price he is always at the service of the buyer. She says she doesn’t like his attitude. What the hell does she want of him, he asks. He makes no secret of his resentment towards his country. It never gave him anything, and as for this war – a few wise guys are making all the dough and he is not one of those fools who wants to die for glory. Maria now declares her hand. If Bogart is in this for the money, there’s plenty to be had for a smart man. How? She will tell him later.
Having secured the American passport, Maria informs her associates and von Doren of Bogart’s stand. They are suspicious naturally, and make test after test by demanding visas, information, statistics, military movements, etc. – all of which is carefully planned by the United States Intelligence Service for Bogart, who furnishes it to the espionage ring for a price. Reassured, the saboteurs accept him – with certain reservations.
Living with Maria as her lover, Bogart learns many of their secrets, their connections and methods of communication, but hasn’t yet been able to find out to what he most wants to know – how they spot cargo ships for the German U-boats. He knows that while he is outwardly accepted as one of the members of the ring, he is under constant surveillance. The slightest slip would cost his life, and even more important – his mission would not be completed.
At the peak of his romance with Maria who has learned to love him deeply, Bergman appears. Bergman knows full well that she has no claim on Bogart. Their parting at the Casablanca airport was final. She can’t blame him for falling in love – and Bogart’s lips are sealed. He cannot tell her the reason for his affair with Maria. Again the two lovers are caught in the net of circumstance. Maria senses their past relationship and is afraid of losing the only man she has ever really loved. She is weary of her present life and pleads with Bogart to quit. They are both rich. Perhaps in South America they will find peace and happiness, far from this maelstrom of human hate. Bogart, in love with Bergman and unable to tell Maria the truth, feels like a heel.
Rains arrives in Tangiers, becomes a dealer in Bogart’s place. Bogart explains that no time can be lost. Maria is ready to blow the works and Bergman’s inopportune arrival has placed him on the horns of a dilemma.
Von Doren is also causing trouble. Even though he encouraged Maria’s intimacy with Bogart to serve their purpose, he did not count on her falling in love and his jealousy becomes increasingly embarrassing. Maria has learned to despise him.
Bogart, deftly sowing seeds of distrust and suspicion among the members of the espionage ring, has become the confidant of one after another. He helps them escape by secretly furnishing them with passports. The organization is crumbling but Bogart is still without the information he has come to get. His contact with Bergman has played right into the hands of von Doren. Bergman’s dossier received from the Reich exposes her former activities in the European underground movement and von Doren is now certain that Bogart is a counterspy.
Alarmed for his safety, Maria warns Bogart before von Doren can close in on him – pleads with him again to give it all up and go with her to South America. Bogart knows his game is up to but tries to carry out his bluff, carefully watching his every step.
Bergman becomes the bait for the trap set by von Doren. By some pretext (or by force) he gets her to his apartment. Maria is with Bogart when von Doren phones to invite Bogart over for a cocktail. Bogart declines. Von Doren insists. He feels certain Bogart will be eager to come when he knows the identity of one of the other guests. He puts Bergman on the phone. “Don’t come!” She whispers before hanging up the receiver.
Maria, watching Bogart, sees him turn white. She slips out of the apartment as Bogart hurries to dress. Arriving at von Doren’s apartment, Maria finds him well pleased. He is enjoying his role as master-of-ceremonies and after introducing the ladies, offers to leave them alone together as he feels sure they will have many things to say to each other.
They have. At first they clash. It is Bergman who breaks. They are both in love with the same man. What are they going to do to save him? Maria promises if Bergman will step out of the picture she will save him – will also try to save Bergman. Bergman doesn’t care for her own life; her only concern is for Bogart’s safety and happiness.
Maria swears that she loves him, that she will find the way to save him and do everything or anything in the world to make him happy. Seeing no other way out for Bogart, Bergman agrees.
When von Doren reenters the room he finds the two women warm and friendly and apparently in perfect agreement instead of at each other’s throats, as he had expected. Puzzled, he is advancing towards them when a telephone call is announced. Bogart is on his way up.
Von Doren inspects his revolver. The stage is all set.
Bogart arrives in a motorcar, unaware that Rains has followed him. As he steps into the apartment, Rains is close on his heels.
The instant Bogart steps into the room Maria hurls herself at him. At the same moment a shot is heard. Von Doren falls to the floor with the gun still smoking in his hand. In the doorway stands Rains, his gun also smoking. Stepping over to von Doren, Rains turns him over – finds him dead. Quite as good marksmanship as Bogart at the airport in Casablanca!
Maria has crumpled in Bogart’s arms. He is suddenly conscious that Maria has intentionally intercepted the bullet intended for him. He carries her gently to the couch. She is dying. Her last wish; to hear Bogart say he loves her. Bogart looks at Bergman who, with tears of compassion nods her head. Bending over Maria, Bogart kisses her tenderly and she is gone.
With busy fingers Rains is frisking von Doren. The documents found, never trusted away from his person, contain the information Bogart has risked his life so many times to secure.
DISSOLVE to an American ship, homeward bound. At the rail, watching the receding shores of Africa, stand Bogart and Bergman, our two lovers who have found happiness at last.