Happy 75th Anniversary, Casablanca!

It’s a tough choice, but if asked to name our favorite motion picture of all time, we’d have to say it’s Casablanca​, which premiered 75 years ago today in New York City. (You can still visit the theatre where it debuted, but you’ll have to watch the video to learn more about that.)

We rewatched the “La Marseillaise” scene recently, in which a passionate rendition of the French national anthem gives the patrons of Rick’s Cafe Americain a small but satisfying victory over Maj. Strasser and his Nazi henchmen, and though we’ve seen this wonderful movie easily a dozen times (probably closer to two dozen), that scene still gave us chills.

Here are 16 things you should know about Casablanca​, the official movie of Cladrite Radio…

Happy 136th Birthday, Sydney Greenstreet!

Sydney Greenstreet, born 136 years ago today in Sandwich, England, made only 24 movies in a brief, eight-year movie career, but what an indelible mark he made in that brief span.

Sydney Greenstreet

As a young man, Greenstreet sets his sights on a career as a tea planter in Ceylon, but drought conditions brought him back to England, where he managed a brewery. He also took acting lessons, as a lark.

He made his stage debut in a 1902 production of Sherlock Holmes and would go on to appear in many plays, in England and the U.S, appearing frequently with Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontaine in Theatre Guild productions.

Sydney Greenstreet’s film debut came at age 62 in The Maltese Falcon, and few actors in the history of cinema could boast as high a ratio of classics to movies made: Casablanca, Christmas in Connecticut, They Died with Their Boots On, Across the Pacific, Passage to Marseille, The Mask of Dimitrios, Flamingo Road.

Of Greenstreet’s 24 pictures, Peter Lorre costarred in nine of them (and in a tenth—Hollywood Canteen (1944)—the pair made a shared cameo appearance). Greenstreet made six pictures with Humphrey Bogart.

Throughout his film career, Greenstreet battled diabetes and Bright’s disease, and his health forced him to retire from films in 1949. In 1950-51, though, he would star in a radio series for NBC, The New Adventures of Nero Wolfe. He died at age 75 in 1954, survived by his wife of 36 years, Dorothy Marie Ogden, and their son, John Ogden Greenstreet.

Happy birthday, Mr. Greenstreet, wherever you may be.

Direct(orial) mail

Stamps depicting Frank Capra, John Huston, John Ford, and Billy WilderIt’s the first day of issue for a set of four postal stamps honoring a quartet of great (native or naturalized) American motion picture directors, and we can’t argue with the selection of a single one of them. Here’s what the USPS has to say about the occasion:

These Great Film Directors (Forever®) stamps honor four great filmmakers who captured the many varieties of the American experience. Frank Capra, John Ford, John Huston, and Billy Wilder created some of the most iconic scenes in American cinema. They gave audiences an unforgettable (and in some cases, deeply personal) vision of life.

These four filmmakers received multiple Academy Award nominations, 15 Oscars, and numerous other honors during their lifetimes. But their greatest accomplishment lies in the vitality and artistry of the stories they told through film. The stamp art combines a portrait of each man with a scene from one of his most iconic works.

The background art for the stamp honoring Frank Capra shows a scene from It Happened One Night, a comedy in which a runaway heiress (played by Claudette Colbert) and a reporter (Clark Gable) compare their hitchhiking skills.

For the John Ford stamp, the background recalls a scene from The Searchers, an influential Western starring John Wayne and making Ford’s characteristic use of the American landscape.

The Maltese Falcon inspired the background art for the John Huston stamp. In this classic mystery, gumshoe Sam Spade (Humphrey Bogart) goes up against various unscrupulous characters (among them Mary Astor, Peter Lorre, and Sydney Greenstreet).

And for Billy Wilder, the background artwork was inspired by Some Like It Hot, a farce about two male musicians (Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis) who seek refuge from gangsters by posing as members of an all-girl band featuring luscious singer Sugar Kane (Marilyn Monroe).

Art Director Derry Noyes designed these stamps using art by award-winning illustrator Gary Kelley, who created the images using pastels on paper.

You can purchase these stamps, along with First Day of Issue color postmarked envelopes and other related items, here.