Claude Rains: You Want More Energy? I’ll Give You More Energy

Michael Curtiz, the director of Casablanca, was apparently a demanding terrifying man. He was talented, focused, and a son-of-a-bitch who hated actors and who, according to his stepson, “spoke five languages, and all of them badly.”

Curtiz was shooting one scene in Casablanca where Claude Rains enters the cafe. Curtiz was only kind and deferential to Ingrid Bergman during the shoot, everyone else cowered in fear, or hid in their dressing rooms. Bogart drank and played chess by mail with a correspondent in Brooklyn in his dressing room. Bogart also was hiding from his terrifying third wife, a drunkard, who used to beat the crap out of him. Bogart was standing around on the set, and one of the crew members said to another crew member: “Hey, wanna see me make Bogie jump?” Not believing anything could ruffle Bogart, the other crew member said “Sure.” Original crew member walked over and said, “Hey, Bogie, your wife’s here.” And Bogart would jump, startled, looking around anxiously.

With the scene in question, all Claude Rains had to do was walk into the cafe.

He did it.

Curtiz asked him to do it with more energy.

Claude Rains entered the cafe again, with “more energy”.

Curtiz still wasn’t pleased, and said, “Please. Do it again. More energy.”

Claude Rains tried it again, tried it with more energy.

Curtiz, now visibly annoyed, said, “Do it again. More energy this time.”

Claude Rains gave it another go.

Curtiz shook his head. “Again. More energy, dammit, more energy!!”

Claude Rains, now nearing the end of his rope, tried his entrance one more time, putting ALL of his energy into the entrance.

Curtiz growled, “Nope. Do it again. More energy.”

The next time Claude Rains entered, he rode into the cafe on a bicycle.

This entry was posted in Actors, Directors and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Claude Rains: You Want More Energy? I’ll Give You More Energy

  1. Emily says:

    That’s incredibly inventive. I don’t think people (including myself) give actors the kind of credit they deserve. Mind you, I’m not talking about *attention*, but rather recognition for the sorts of creative presence, like Rains, that they add.

  2. red says:

    I just think the story is so funny. Rains, not knowing what the hell Curtiz means by “more energy” … “Shall I enter doing a somersault? Shall I run in screaming at the top of my lungs?”

    I kind of wish I could see the out-take of that scene. Rains riding in, in his little prefect’s uniform.