To Have and Have Not

Year 1944


Humphrey Bogart   as  Harry 'Steve' Morgan
Lauren Bacall as Marie 'Slim' Browning
Walter Brennan as Eddie
Dolores Moran as Mme. Hellene de Bursac  
Hoagy Carmichael   as Cricket
Dan Seymour as Capt. M. Renard
Director - Howard Hawks
Screenwriters - Jules Furthman
  - William Faulkner
Novelist - Ernest Hemingway

To Have and Have Not is the movie where a 45 year old Bogart met and fell in love with a 19 year old Lauren Bacall. Oh, there's some silly song calling attention Bogart and Bacall in Key Largo. But it's this movie, To Have and Have Not, and not Key Largo, where they first met.

Besides the fact that this movie is important in the lives of Bogart and Bacall and their fans, is this movie any good? The egotistical Hemingway said that most of his work was unfilmable. The equally Messianic Hawks said that he could turn even the worst of Hemingway's writing, the novel To Have and Have Not, into a good film. The movie is the result of a dare.

The movie is very similar to Casablanca. I have not read the novel but from what I gather, the movie deviates from the book pretty markedly.

Comparisons to Casablanca have to be made. In both, Bogart's competent loner aids French resistance fighters in Vichy teritories. The Vichy government was the name of the French government after the fall of France to Nazi Germany. In Casablanca, Bogart gave up the girl for the good of the war. In To Have and Have Not, he keeps the girl and goes off to do good. In both movies, he tries to remain isolated but gets drawn in.

In Casablanca there's a back story to the main characters, poignant theme music ("As Time Goes By"), great lines, and an appeal to higher ideals. In To Have and Have Not there's no back story (the characters arrive fully formed), one excellent tune ("Am I Blue") but it's not the main torch touchstone, great lines, and a half-hearted appeal to higher ideals.

Considering all of the talent pooled for this movie, it should have been better. Oh, the direction is top notch and so is the acting, but the story is weak. Hemingway may have been right about the book being unfilmable. Still, even if it's not a major work, the movie's way above average.

Star power is what this movie is about. Bogart blazes with his and Bacall, the skinny 19 year old, shines as brightly. Her look, her pauses, her savior faire bring her to the screen as a complete star in this, her first, outing.

Bacall (or Be Cool as a Warner Brothers' cartoon lampoons her name) tucked in her chin because she was so nervous that she was afraid of shaking. The result is sultry and earned her the moniker "The Look".

Besides the famous instruction about how to whistle, here are some other great lines.

Slim: You know Steve, you're not very hard to figure. Only at times. Sometimes I know exactly what you're going to say. Most of the time. The other times... the other times, you're just a stinker.

Slim: What are you trying to do, guess her weight?
Steve: She's heftier than you think.

Slim: Give her my love.
Steve: I'd give her my own if she had that [outfit] on.

Capt. Renard: By the way, what are your sympathies?
Steve: Minding my own business.

Steve: Get down on that deck flat. You save France; I want to save my boat.

Steve: You're both going to take a beating 'til one of you uses that phone. That means one of you will take a beating for nothing.

There are only a few slow spots, and they're forgivable. It's fluff. But it's Bogart showing what he does best - being the self-centered anti-hero converted to the side of "good".

There's no nudity, profanity, or blasphemy. It's still captivating despite scoring very high on the chick flick meter.

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