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Property of various owners
Lot 84
The production-made "transit papers" from Casablanca
24 November 2014, 13:00 PST
New York

Sold for US$118,750 inc. premium

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The production-made "transit papers" from Casablanca

Warner Bros., 1942. 1 p document, partially printed and accomplished in manuscript, "Etat Francais / Feuille de Deplacement" [Government of France / Transit Papers], filled out in the name of "Victor Laszlo ... avec sa femme," traveling from Casablanca on July 22, 1941 for New York via Lisbon at his own expense, bearing a circular stamp of "Region militaire Nord-Afrique / Le General Gouveneur" surrounding the image of Liberty, and with the indecipherable signature of a French general (but not De Gaulle, as indicated in the film, or Weygand, as indicated in the play, no doubt due to the political instability of France during filming).
Provenance: purchased by the consignor from The Scriptorium, Beverly Hills, 1980s.

The "transit papers" are a remarkable plot device invented by the original playwrights: nearly magical documents that allow the bearer to travel out of Morocco unmolested by either the French or German armies. Such a document never existed, of course, but in the film, two German couriers are murdered by Ugarte, who is himself murdered by the police, in order to have them. Rick hides the papers under the lid of Sam's piano for much of the film, and at the end, gives them over to Victor so that he and Ilsa may escape first to Lisbon and then on to New York.

The political uncertainty that reigned during the filming of Casablanca no doubt also deviled the printing department of Warner Bros., who must have struggled with the design of the transit papers (since such a thing didn't exist in the real world). This document is a military authorization for transit, signed by an unidentified French General on the 21st of July, the day before Victor and Ilsa travel. The document that Rick unfolds at his desk is slightly different from this one: narrower, and not yet filled out for Victor and Ilsa. It does, however, bear a similar font, an identical stamp, and the same handwriting for the manuscript sections. Interestingly, a closer, but still not exact match for this document appears as Strasser interrogates Laszlo and Ilsa in Renault's office. After Strasser informs the couple of Ugarte's death, Renault toys with a document in his hand while musing whether to declare the death an accident or a suicide. The size, layout, and font of the document in Renault's hand during this exchange matches ours, though that document bears two circular stamps at the upper margin, rather than one.

Clearly this document was made for the production, and it is the only known surviving example of transit papers from the film.
11 x 14 in.

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