Errol’s Casablanca?

24 Feb

Background to ‘Background to Danger”

This film was conceived by Warner Brothers to capitalize on the colossal success of Casablanca. The story was reported contemporaneously to have been purchased from highly-regarded author Eric Ambler as “a vehicle for Errol Flynn.” Ultimately it starred George Raft in the role originally intended for Errol. Raft himself was originally considered for Bogie’s role of Rick in Casablanca. Casablanca co-stars Sidney Greenstreet and Peter Lorrie were also in Background to Danger. William Faulkner contributed to the script. Directed by Raoul Walsh. I think this spy thriller could have been a very cool film for Errol.


One of the scenes depicted in the film was based on the attempted assassination of Nazi Ambassador to Turkey and former Chancellor of the Weimar Republic, Franz van Popen, who was trying to lure Turkey into the war on the side of the Axis powers, including the Soviet Union. To prevent this, Moscow recruited 25-year old Yugoslav Moslem Omer Tokat to kill von Papen, hoping that the assassination would cause a rift, possibly even a war, between Turkey and Germany.

On February 24, 1942, Tokat approached von Papen on a street in Ankara with a bomb. However, the bomb exploded early, killing only the attacker. The ambassador and his wife were only hit by a blast wave, suffering no significant injuries.

New York Times – February 24, 1942

ANKARA, Turkey – Franz von Papen, the German Ambassador, and his wife narrowly escaped assassination shortly after 10 o’clock this morning when, in the course of their customary walk from their residence to the German Embassy, an unidentified young man exploded a bomb, blowing himself to bits.

— Tim


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

  1. Karl

    February 24, 2021 at 7:27 pm

    I agree, GT, this film would have had DEFINITE possibilities as another vehicle for Errol… especially given the man at the helm Raoul Walsh. We’ll never know.

    Or will we… see below.

    (As you know, Michael Curtiz had the positively UNCANNY ability to move among “genres”- Casablanca being the ultimate example of DIRECTORIAL mastery given VERY difficult circumstances.)

    I personally never put too much stock in the notion of “sequels” to this “Michael Masterpiece” other than the sharing of some familiar players in some cases. Instead, it was more attempting to capitalize on a “theme” in vogue for further $ucce$$ on the money train.

    To that end, Across the Pacific, Huston/Sherman (1944), Passage To Marseille, Curtiz (1944), and To Have and Have Not, Hawks (1944) all share in this riding of the wave, so to speak.

    There is one film, however, not mentioned that is also from 1944, utilizes one of the above directors, stars Errol Flynn (and an otherwise unfamiliar cast) no less, and whose plot DOES have some parallels with the story originally titled: “Everyone Comes to Ricks”:…

  2. Ralph Schiller

    February 25, 2021 at 7:07 pm

    Tim, Actually this Background To Danger was an excellent film. During the making of it, Peter Lorre kept blowing cigarette smoke in George Raft’s face. Raft asked him off camera not to do that as it irritated his eyes but Lorre sadistically kept doing it. As soon as he got free, George Raft cornered Peter Lorre and slapped him around. Raft foolishly asked out of his Warner Brothers contract after this film, and immediately slipped into ‘B’ films as a star or a supporting player in ‘A’ films.

    • Gentleman Tim

      February 25, 2021 at 11:58 pm

      Ha! That is too funny, Ralph! Having to look at those psycho bug eyes of Lorre’s are bad enough, but getting cig smoke blown in your face too – that’s just too much!! …I’m surprised Raft didn’t get some of his old buddies from Hell’s Kitchen to take care of Peter L…