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Visit Rick’s Café -- the ultimate ‘Casablanca’ respite

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‘Casablanca’ was named Best Picture at the 16th Annual Academy Awards, and it’s widely considered one of the most romantic films of all time. The movie celebrated its 70th anniversary a couple of years ago, an event that was marked with the release of the ‘Casablanca’ Two-Disk Ultimate Collectors Blu-Ray edition.

The story of star-crossed lovers Rick and Ilsa (Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman) unfolds in an upscale piano bar – Rick’s Café Américain – which was actually a movie set that was built in three unconnected parts on the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California. Except for some establishing shots in Paris and a brief outing to the nearby Van Nuys Airport to shoot Major Strasser’s arrival scene, the ‘Casablanca’ production never left the studio.

Rick’s Cafe was so realistically portrayed in the film, however, that many travelers to Casablanca over the past 70+ years would want to go there, only to be left feeling foolish when the concierge or taxi driver explained the café only existed in the film.

Enter an enterprising former American diplomat in Morocco, Kathy Kriger, who opened Rick’s Café Casablanca in the city’s historical Medina ten years ago. The café so successfully recreates the cinematic gin joint that many have come to think of it as “the real Rick’s.” Ms. Kriger even wrote a book about her experience, “Rick’s Café: Bringing the Film Legend to Life in Casablanca.”

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