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  1. #1

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    December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    At one time, the airplane in the Casablanca scene of The Great Movie Ride was said to be the actual plane from the classic 1942 motion picture. But then that claim was busted as “impossible.” Not so fast! It’s not impossible after all. I discussed the reasons with Jim Korkis.


    Please discuss it here.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 12-09-2010 at 10:00 PM.
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  2. #2

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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    As a Disney fan and a huge Casablanca fan, I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this article. For many years, I've watched The Great Movie Ride clips on YouTube and wanted to see it for myself if only for the Casablanca scene. I've read Aljean Harmetz's book Round Up the Usual Suspects (a great book for fans of the movie or for anyone who enjoys film history). I must confess, when the author mentioned the "cutout airplane," I thought what Mr. Korkis said many people probably thought: that the term referred to a two-dimensional prop, like an airplane-shaped billboard. It never occurred to me that the term might have a different use in film making lingo. To find out differently and to know that a piece of my favorite movie may still be in use today, entertaining fans, is a great way to start my day. Thanks, Werner!

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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    The scenes with the actors are with the prop plane, but the flight shots are with the actual plane. Is this correct? Then the controversy isn't much to be worked up about. The Movie Ride scene might be considered deceptive since this full sized plane wasn't there. Only in later shots was the actual plane used. Am I correct with this summary?

  4. #4

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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    Great article. This sort of stuff is fascinating to me. It's a real shame though that after all those years, Disney cut the back half of the plane off.

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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    Dear Jim, I want to thank you for following this story on through to what a few "WED" Imagineers have been claiming all along. Going back to the start of the story, after checking the Lockheed Electra Registry, this was the only Electra owned by Warner Brothers at any time near the films making. In a discussion about needing an Electra for one of our new attractions with a long time friend and junk dealer, he told me about his buddy who I had met before, and who flew his Electra out from Texas to California on occastion. I was told he had 2 Electras and might sell one. I relayed the information to the WED buyer and friend. He went to Texas with a Mapo Mechanical specialist to look at the 2 Electras and found there was also a 3rd for sale. He had no idea one was the former Warner Brothers Casablanca plane at that point. The first 2 Electras were running planes and out of the budget. The 3rd plane was not running and the price was right. After purchasing the plane and checking the serial numbers, they discovered that it was in deed the Warner Brothers Casablanca Electra. The owner of the 2 running planes on hearing about this, wished he had purchased it when he had the chance before WED came and bought it, my junk friend told me. The Electra had to be dismantled a bit to ship and Mapo over saw that. In closing I'm really glad you did your research on the film's ending and have disproved all the rumors about not using a real Electra in the film and the wartime restrictions bust. Perhaps one day now Disney will rejoin the 2 sections of the plane and make it a whole star once again. Hope you can let the myth busters know what you have found.

  6. #6

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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenW View Post
    The scenes with the actors are with the prop plane, but the flight shots are with the actual plane. Is this correct?
    The were apparently two reduced-scale movie prop "planes" and one actual plane used in the famous ending of Casablanca. The actors never appear with the real plane, but as moviegoers, we can imagine two of the characters in the movie in the real plane taking off for Lisbon. Only the first shot of the takeoff sequence shows the real plane, after which the takeoff continues with other shots that do not show the real plane.

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenW View Post
    Then the controversy isn't much to be worked up about. The Movie Ride scene might be considered deceptive since this full sized plane wasn't there. Only in later shots was the actual plane used. Am I correct with this summary?
    I wouldn't call it a "controversy," and I wouldn't call the Casablanca scene in the The Great Movie Ride "deceptive." It's one of my favorite scenes in the ride, and the real Lockheed Electra 12A is a great part of the scene.

    The generally accepted view for the past decade has been that it would be impossible for the plane in the ride to be the actual plane from Casablanca — because there was no real plane in Casablanca, only movie props. The plane in the ride is a real plane (or what's left of it), not a movie prop.

    As I showed in the article, there's overwhelming evidence that the movie included a real Lockheed Electra 12A after all. That means Disney fans and Casablanca fans can reopen the discussion of whether it's the same plane.

    The plane in the ride is serial number 1204. If it's true, as Disney Imagineering's research apparently showed, that the plane with serial number 1204 was registered to Warner Bros. around the time Casablanca was made, then there's a very good chance that it is the same plane. However, at this point, I think the best way to say it is simply that it "might be true."

    Maybe, someday, someone (probably at Warner Bros.) can release definitive evidence one way or the other.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 12-10-2010 at 09:30 PM.
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  7. #7

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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    Nice Article! I always thought the plane was from the movie.


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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    Excellent! Thank you for sharing!

    As a huge fan of the film (and the ride) I added the two books you mentioned to my Amazon.com wish list. Very neat indeed!
    I worked at Walt Disney World as a member of the Disney College Program in Spring 2008 and Summer 2010. Now, I build software, design live events, and frequently make the short trek from Costa Mesa to Disneyland with my Annual Passport in hand.

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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    There's a connection between Casablanca and Disneyland that not many people know about.

    Many Disney fans know that Disney Legend Harper Goff was one of the early Imagineers whose brilliant work we still enjoy today on Main Street U.S.A., in the interior of the Golden Horsehoe Saloon, on the Jungle Cruise, and elsewhere at Disneyland, the Magic Kingdom, and Epcot. He's also well known for his work on the Disney movie 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea.

    Disney Legends - Harper Goff

    But how many of us know that Harper Goff was the set designer for Casablanca?
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 12-13-2010 at 08:38 AM.
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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    Quote Originally Posted by Werner Weiss View Post
    As I showed in the article, there's overwhelming evidence that the movie included a real Lockheed Electra 12A after all. That means Disney fans and Casablanca fans can reopen the discussion of whether it's the same plane.
    I was mainly concerned on whether the actual plane was used in the scene that featured the actors. This is where I argued if it was deceptive to have the real plane in the ride. It might have been more accurate to only show a prop plane since that was used in the filming. Since the ride was about "riding the movies", it would be accurate to say full sized and authentic props are not necessary to film a movie. Nonetheless, real planes are still used to film some scenes.

  11. #11

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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    Quote Originally Posted by StevenW View Post
    This is where I argued if it was deceptive to have the real plane in the ride.
    If you think about all of the scenes in The Great Movie Ride, the idea is always to capture the visual and emotional feeling of a key part of the movie. The animatronics, sets, music, dialog, sound effects, and lighting all contribute to this. There's no promise of actual sets or an exact duplication of what was on the soundstage or on the movie screen.

    Most scenes in the ride work well, triggering the right emotions, especially if you've seen the movie that's being represented. I think the Casablanca scene is particularly good in this regard.
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  12. #12

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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    Maybe one day when they change the movie ride, they could rejoin the Lockheed Electra No.1204's front and rear tail sections and park the Casablanca Star near the Disney Imagineering Campus Grand Central Flight Tower in Glendale.
    Last edited by DisWedWay; 12-15-2010 at 05:06 PM.

  13. #13

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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    I don't think there was ever any debate about whether or not the plane was used as an extra to film the flight scenes. The myth was that the plane that appears in the Great Movie Ride was the same plane that appeared with the actors in the final scene at the airport. That is false because a scale model of the plane used for the scene was built out of balsa wood. Therefore, I don't really think anyone can say the myth has been busted because the myth deals with the plane that appears in the scene with the actors, not the extra planes Warner Bros. used for the flight scenes. I do think it is very interesting how you were able to track down the original registration of the plane appearing in the ride,though, and I can't wait to hear more developments in this story! That would be great if Disney really did have their hands on an actual plane used in the movie.

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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    Quote Originally Posted by Imagineer Meg View Post
    I don't think there was ever any debate about whether or not the plane was used as an extra to film the flight scenes. The myth was that the plane that appears in the Great Movie Ride was the same plane that appeared with the actors in the final scene at the airport. That is false because a scale model of the plane used for the scene was built out of balsa wood. Therefore, I don't really think anyone can say the myth has been busted because the myth deals with the plane that appears in the scene with the actors, not the extra planes Warner Bros. used for the flight scenes.
    There are still a number of websites that claim there was no real Lockheed Electra 12A in the movie — period — not just no real airplane on the soundstage.

    Snopes.com changed their article after my Yesterland story ran.

    Here's what Snopes.com had last week (captured December 9, 2010):

    Claim: The actual plane used in the film Casablanca is now part of The Great Movie Ride attraction at Walt Disney World's Disney-MGM Studios theme park.

    Status: False.

    Here's what Snopes.com has this week (captured December 16, 2010):

    Claim: The plane used in climactic scene of the film Casablanca is now part of The Great Movie Ride attraction at Walt Disney World's Disney-MGM Studios theme park.

    Status: False.

    More significantly, Snopes.com edited their article. Among other things, they removed the sentence, "There was one small problem with Disney's serendipitious claim, however — no such airplane appeared in the film."

    There's an entirely new paragraph that begins, "Brief shots of an aircraft warming up and taking off at the very end..." Also, they edited some of the existing paragraphs to add more facts from Jim Korkis and me in the Yesterland article.

    I applaud Snopes.com for correcting their article. Barbara and David Mikkelson take the accuracy of their Snopes.com website very seriously. I'm glad that Jim Korkis and I were able to provide information that is now reflected in the article. And I'm impressed that the changes appeared so quickly.

    However, I'm disappointed that the "Last Updated" date still shows "21 August 2007." This creates the false impression that I lied about what Snopes.com wrote about the plane. Also, the list of sources remains unchanged. I assume that keeping the old "Last Updated" date was an accidental oversight, not an intentional effort to mislead readers. I assume they'll fix the date.

    You can read the new version here: snopes.com: Casablanca Plane in Great Movie Ride

    Quote Originally Posted by Imagineer Meg View Post
    I do think it is very interesting how you were able to track down the original registration of the plane appearing in the ride,though, and I can't wait to hear more developments in this story! That would be great if Disney really did have their hands on an actual plane used in the movie.
    I'm not the person who traced the history of the Lockheed Electra 12A with serial number 1204. That was done by Disney Imagineers.

    I'm not sure there will be more developments.

    That's why I was careful to say the the claim that the airplane in the Casablanca scene of The Great Movie Ride is the actual plane seen during the memorable conclusion of the movie "might be true."

    We may never know more than we know now.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 12-16-2010 at 07:45 PM.
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    Re: December 10, 2010: The Casablanca Plane Myth

    As I noted in my previous post, Snopes.com updated their article about the Casablanca plane. They no longer claim that "no such airplane appeared in the film." And they added other details that Jim Korkis and I had in our article. The "Last Updated" date in the Snopes.com article still shows "21 August 2007." Five days ago, I sent a note to them about the date because I know that they want to be accurate. But they still have the incorrect "Last Updated" date.

    In an article about the horse-drawn hearse in front of Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, Shopes.com also mentions the Lockheed Electra 12A from Casablanca in The Great Movie Ride. That article still claims "no such airplane actually appeared in the movie" (as of a few minutes ago, at least).

    snopes.com: Haunted Mansion Hearse

    Here's the paragraph. I've added emphasis to a few words:

    Apocryphal stories about the historical authenticity of various artifacts found in Disney theme parks are nothing new. Disney garnered a good deal of publicity in 1988 when they announced they had purchased the "real" Lockheed Electra 12A airplane used in the 1942 film Casablanca for The Great Movie Ride attraction at their Disney-MGM Studios theme park in Florida. The inconvenient fact that no such airplane actually appeared in the movie (that famous final airport scene used only half- and quarter-size scale models constructed of plywood and balsa) didn't seem to dampen their enthusiasm.

    The truth is that the famous ending of Casablanca used reduced scale models AND a real plane.
    Last edited by Werner Weiss; 12-21-2010 at 12:24 PM.
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