Like many films of its era, Casablanca was made primarily by European immigrants or their offspring. Director Michael Curtiz was Hungarian-born, and screenwriters Julius and Philip Epstein were the children of Jewish immigrants, while their film was teeming with actors who had also fled Europe in the previous two decades. (Sakall played Carl, the head waiter of Rick’s Café Américain.) This demographic on set was not unusual. As recounted in Neal Gabler’s An Empire of Their Own, Hollywood and the American myths it perpetuated were in fact created almost entirely by Jewish immigrants. Gabler writes, “These Eastern European Jews, so afraid of being seen as un-American, helped create our modern American culture.” In these terms, however, Casablanca is a significant outlier. What separates it from its cinematic peers — if it has any — is that it refuses to hide the immigrant experience.
Via By Immigrants, For Immigrants: Why “Casablanca” Still Matters – Los Angeles Review of Books