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Classics will always have London

Thesps present fave pix

LONDON — Not all classics are the result of meticulous planning and flawless execution; that was the message Michael Caine had for the crowd at the May 24 Grand Classics screening of “Casablanca” at Notting Hill’s Electric cinema and members club.

Introducing the Bogart-Bergman starrer as the film that most inspired him, Caine said the pic “really shouldn’t be his all-time favorite” as it is a “hodge podge of a thing.”

Caine said he learned much about the notoriously chaotic 1942 production from its scribe Howard Koch who later greenlit Caine pics “Alfie” and “The Italian Job” during his tenure at Paramount.

Alluding to the fact that Ronald Reagan and Ann Sheridan were originally cast for the “Casablanca” leads, Caine joked, “America would have lost a great president had Reagan ever made a great movie like ‘Casablanca.’ ”

The U.K. Grand Classics series is an offshoot of the successful Gotham program launched by Katrina Pavlos and Vanessa Wingate in the wake of 9/11.

So far only helmers and thesps (including Anthony Minghella, Kevin Costner, Ken Loach, Jude Law, Samantha Morton and Dennis Hopper) have unveiled their faves in London, but Pavlos told Variety that they would happily break tradition if scribe Charlie Kaufman expressed interest in presenting.

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