Last Week in Brief: November 21

November 21, 2014

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them."

-John Fitzgerald Kennedy on Thanksgiving


Last Week in Brief
Major markets rose last week. In fact, the S&P 500 just logged its record 29th consecutive month above its five-month average. It's climbing faster than the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Of course, both stocks and The Real Housewives have been more artificially stimulated than Hugh Hefner on the night of his most recent wedding.
Tomorrow, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a uniquely American holiday. Thanks to Carl Cannon, Real Clear Politics Washington Bureau Chief, I'd like to share a uniquely American tale involving Thanksgiving, WWII intrigue and Hollywood romance.

In 1942, Thanksgiving fell on today's date, November 26th. On that date, American's gave thanks to God and country for the success of Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of Algeria and Morocco. Both of which were held by the Nazis and the forces of Vichy France.
When the U.S. jumped into World War II, Army Chief of Staff George Marshall advised an Allied counter-offensive in Western Europe. But, the great Winston Churchill did not agree.
Recalling the horror of World War One's trench warfare, the disastrous battle at Dunkirk, and the German's sweeping victories from France to the Arabian dessert, the British high command felt that the Allies must thwart the Nazi's command of the Mediterranean. Which meant invading North Africa.
President Franklin Roosevelt resolved the matter, ordering his commanders to grant Churchill's wishes. This was done under the guidance of Dwight Eisenhower, with the help of General George Patton. So was Operation Torch given birth.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. had just fortuitously completed a movie set in the Moroccan city of Casablanca. The film, staring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, managed to serve as both a stirring tale of love and war, as well as wartime propaganda.
To leverage the apparent good news of the success of Operation Torch, the studio decided to premier the movie on November 26. Thanksgiving Day. In New York City.
The Thanksgiving Day premier notwithstanding, "Casablanca" wasn't actually released until January. Making it eligible for the 1943 Academy Awards. It won for best picture, best director and best screen play.
While the screen play writers were lauded for their efforts, they paid due credit to the movie's inspiration. Marty Burnett, a 27-year old New York City teacher, who visited a night club run by an American ex-pat in the South of France. Burnett returned to America with the idea for a play. The main character was a cynical but inwardly realistic American saloon keeper named Rick Blaine. The story captured Rick's love affair with a married woman, and a daring escape from Nazi-occupied Casablanca.
The unpublished play, entitled "Everybody Comes to Rick's," was brought to the attention of a Hollywood story editor named Irene Lee Diamond. She took it to Warner Bros. Which purchased the rights for $20,000.
Franklin Roosevelt loved the movie. And screened it at the White House on New Year's Eve, 1942. Two weeks later, FDR sat down with Churchill and other Allied leaders at a January conference in -- you guessed it -- Casablanca.
"Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world..."
So, let us be thankful for the success of Operation Torch. The outcome of that war to end all wars. And the indomitable spirit of America's soldiers. Her wartime leadership. Not to mention, the indefatigable Winston Churchill. All of whom rose up to challenge and thwart the tyranny of Hitler's Nazi Germany. Some of which is captured in that wonderful piece of American film. Which still provides joy to cinephiles 72 years later.


 
So much for which to be thankful. Happy Thanksgiving, friends.
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Weekly Results
Major markets finished higher last week. The DJIA rose 0.99%, the S&P 500 gained 1.16%, and the Nasdaq advanced 0.52%. Small cap stocks declined 0.12%. And the 10-year Treasury bond yield fell 52 basis points to 2.31%. Gold rose $11.54 per ounce, or 0.97%.
Check out JP Morgan's weekly recap here.

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