In 1946, the Marx Brothers announced their upcoming film, A Night in Casablanca. This drew a menacing letter from the legal department of Warner Brothers, claiming the Marxes could not release a film with that city's name in the title, since the studio had released the Bogart-Bergman classic of the same name several years earlier.
Groucho Marx was shocked ... shocked ... to find absurd litigiousness at that Hollywood establishment and sent a reply himself, directly to the Brothers Warner, skewering the entire proposition. This crossed Legal Pad's path when we saw the BoingBoing review of a new book, The Essential Groucho Marx, that is now totally on our holiday gift list. While apparently the book contains several rounds of zany legal correspondence on this issue, BB provides a link to the initial salvo, which we pass along to you here, because the wit and wisdom of Groucho Marx is not to be missed.
If only he hadn't gone into vaudeville. The law could use more minds like his, and no doubt the Supreme Court is poorer for his career choice.
To whet the appetite, a judicious excerpt after the jump:
Apparently there is more than one way of conquering a city and holding it as your own. For example, up to the time that we contemplated making this picture, I had no idea that the city of Casablanca belonged exclusively to Warner Brothers. However, it was only a few days after our announcement appeared that we received your long, ominous legal document warning us not to use the name Casablanca.
It seems that in 1471, Ferdinand Balboa Warner, your great-great-grandfather, while looking for a shortcut to the city of Burbank, had stumbled on the shores of Africa and, raising his alpenstock (which he later turned in for a hundred shares of common), named it Casablanca.
I just don’t understand your attitude. Even if you plan on releasing your picture, I am sure that the average movie fan could learn in time to distinguish between Ingrid Bergman and Harpo. I don’t know whether I could, but I certainly would like to try.
Follow the link for the rest.