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Tuesday, 2 January, 2001, 09:28 GMT
Casablanca writer dies
Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca
Casablanca is considered a classic of American cinema
Julius Epstein, the co-writer of the classic Hollywood movie Casablanca, has died in Los Angeles aged 91.

He won an Oscar for his screenplay for the 1942 movie starring Humphrey Bogart, which he co-wrote with his twin brother Philip Epstein and Howard Koch.

Julius Epstein
Julius Epstein wrote more than 50 screenplays
He wrote 50 other screenplays, including The Man Who Came To Dinner and The Strawberry Blonde.

He was born in New York in 1909 and turned to screen writing after planning to become a sport journalist.

Known for his wit, Epstein once commented that the screenplay for Casablanca contained "a great deal of corn, more corn than in the states of Kansas and Iowa combined".

But he was always very modest about his achievements and once remarked that Casablanca became a classic film only after the death of Bogart in 1955.

The film has become one of the most celebrated in cinema history and its lines of dialogue are among the most quoted.

"Here's looking at you, kid", "We'll always have Paris", "I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship", and "Round up the usual suspects" have entered into movie folklore.

However, the film's most celebrated line "Play it again, Sam" is not actually in the film and is a misquote of a line spoken by Bogart's character, Rick.

Epstein arrived in Los Angeles in 1933 to ghost-write a script and by 1935 was under contract with Warner Bros.


He and his brother were routinely assigned to Casablanca, asked to adapt an unproduced play called Everybody Comes To Rick's.

Many of Warners' contracted writers worked on the movie but the sparkling dialogue and famous ending is attributed directly to the Epstein brothers.

Despite their success, the Epstein brothers' 17-year tenure at Warner Bros was tumultuous.

Julius Epstein frequently criticised Casablanca and most of the films he wrote during his time with the studio.

In the 1940s and 1950s when government investigators were trying unmask alleged communists in Hollywood, Epstein, a critic of communism, was asked if ever belonged to a subversive organisation.

"Yes," he replied. "Warner Bros."

Brother's death

He was known as a pragmatic screen writer and described his job as "making a living" and not "making art".

His brother's death from cancer in 1952 devastated him but he continued to work as a screen writer.

He received three other Oscar nominations for Four Daughters, Reuben Reuben and Pete 'n' Tillie.

Epstein died on 30 December at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and is survived by his wife and a son and daughter.

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Bogart's fantasy film role
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