Season Of The Gods

Season of the Gods

Read Time: 3 Minutes

Reading “Season of the Gods” was like stepping into a time machine and heading back to Hollywood’s golden age, with a twist of wartime intrigue and a sprinkle of behind-the-scenes magic. I must have watched Casablanca countless times over the course of my life. It’s honestly one of my favourite movies, so this was an eye-opening look at life behind the scenes of how it came to be.

Now, this is historical fiction – so how much of this is true to life and how much is made up, I can’t say. The author, Robert Matzen, from my research has written a number of biographies from the same era, so I don’t doubt he’s sunk as much research into this as he would when writing non-fiction.

I was hooked on the story, even while knowing full well that the movie gets made, the drama and tension Matzen delivers as problems keep piling onto the script, making the whole thing seemingly in doubt.

It starts with Renie Lee, head of the Story Department at Warner Bros Studios in the 1940s. An unassuming script lands her her slush pile – Everybody Comes to Rick’s. Following her gut, she does everything in her power to get the script purchased and a script written.

Odds are against her; too much sex and infidelity to get past the censors. Too much talking and not enough action. An ending that doesn’t work.

Jack Warner is against it, and has it out for Renie, as well as Hal Wallis, a producer who just got one-up on Jack. Julius and Philip Epstein, twin brothers and screenwriters of immense talent see the potential in the script, and it seems everyone knows the movie can be a gem, if only they can nail the final scenes.

As deadline loom, things don’t look good for this wartime movie. The actors are upset that they don’t have a final script even after weeks of shooting. Getting to know the actors’ motives behind the scenes had me believing this was a true life telling of the making of the movie, and not a work of fiction.

The narrator, Holly Adams, does a marvellous job too. Capturing the voices and styles of the time, as well as many of the idiosyncrasies of the actors, from Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman to Claude Raines, Sydney Greenstreet, and Peter Lorre. Production was top notch, with no background noises or the like that I could notice.

Like any good Hollywood tale, “Season of the Gods” leaves you cheering for the underdogs. If you’re a fan of classic cinema, a sucker for behind-the-scenes drama, or just in the mood for a darn good story, do yourself a favour and pick up a copy of “Season of the Gods.”

♫ As time goes by ♫ … you’ll be happy you gave this a listen! Here’s looking at you, kid.


Cinema, Casablanca, Movies, Hollywood, Biographical Fiction
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