The 1942 classic Casablanca won three Academy Awards (plus five other Oscar® nominations and another five awards won). One Oscar® awarded was for the original screenplay, written by Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, and Howard Koch.
So then… could you imagine this screenplay being rejected? In a gag[ref]Casablanca Rejected[/ref] straight out of Mad Magazine… freelance writer Chuck Ross[ref]Ross, Chuck. (November-December, 1982). “The Great Script Tease.” Film Comment. 18(6): 15-19[/ref] typed the screenplay out, with a couple minor changes:
- He used the title “Everybody Comes to Rick’s” from the original play on which Casablanca was based
- He changed the name of (Play it Again) Sam to Dooley
- He changed the name of the screenwriter(s) to Erik Demos
Then, he submitted it to 217 agencies. Granted, in today’s atmosphere, he most likely would receive 217 letters from legal departments chiding him against submission of unsolicited material. In fact, there were a number of such responses.
The interesting part is revealed in the actual statistics of the hoax script submissions:
- 90 returned it un-read
- 38 rejected it as not good enough.
- 33 actually recognized it as Casablanca
- three actually offered to represent the script
Ironically, this was not Chuck’s first hoax. He previously submitted an award-winning novel to 14 publishers. All of them rejected the manuscript.
If you are a writer and have received rejection letters… don’t despair. The results of Chuck Ross’ hoaxes should remind you that rejections are not necessarily a reflection of the quality of your writing. Keep writing!
You can read the complete details of the Casablanca hoax at hoaxes.org. Enjoy!