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This film has nothing to do with the Ernest Hemingway's book, which is
not one of his best novels. Howard Hawks took a big gamble in trying to
have the great Hemingway write the screen treatment, but Papa didn't
comply with the request. Instead, Mr. Hawks hired two other writers to
work on the scenario for this movie, William Faulkner and Jules
Furthman, not too shabby a combination! Mr. Hawks had an enormous
talent for giving the American public films that were entertaining, as
well as well crafted. Mr. Hawks is responsible for discovering Lauren
Bacall, a young model from New York with no experience in the cinema.
Well, Mr. Hawk's instinct paid handsomely as Lauren Bacall went to have
a fabulous career of her own.
This film is interesting as well, for it marked the beginning of the romance between Mr. Bogart and Ms. Bacall. Their love is there in front of the viewers to see. This movie shows us a Bogey with a heart. He was an actor that excelled in this type of picture and under Mr. Hawks's direction, his Capt. Morgan makes a remarkable impression.
The story has all the right ingredients to keep us interested in what is going on with all these characters in Martinique. World War II makes a detour and comes to the island.
The cast for this movie is first rate. Humphrey Bogart is a tough Capt. Morgan who falls head over heels for young and lovely "Slim" Browning, a mysterious young woman who loves adventure. Ms. Bacall has a way to sing a song that makes it unique because of her sense of style. Both these stars smolder the screen in their love scenes.
Walter Brennan plays Eddie, the drunken sailor that helps Morgan take tourists on fishing junkets. Marcel Dalio, is Frenchy, the owner of the local hotel; he is the one responsible for putting Morgan in touch with the partisans operating in the island. Dolores Moran and Walter Szurovy are the De Bursac, who are smuggled into the island by Morgan, at his own risk; they are sought by the local branch of the Gestapo.
Hoagy Carmichael, the great musician puts an appearance as Cricket, a pianist that entertains at the hotel lounge. The three musical numbers are done flawlessly. Mr. Carmichael's rendition of "Hong Kong blues" stays in one's mind forever. Also we hear two other of his songs, "Am I blue?", and a sultry rendition by Lauren Bacall of his hit, "How little we know". Hearing sung by Bacall makes any other interpretation superfluous.
This is a film to see to enjoy great acting under the magnificent direction of Howard Hawks.
This is almost a clone of the more-famous "Casablanca".....and almost
as good! The film is very entertaining from the get-go with all three
leading actors a lot of fun to watch. I am referring to Lauren Bacall,
Humphrey Bogart and Walter Brennan.
This was Bacall's first film. She was 19 years old, looked 30 and never looked better. Her face, at that time, was stunningly beautiful, mesmerizing at times. So is her dialog, capped off by the famous line, asking Bogart if he knows how to whistle. It isn't just the line, it's the way she says it.....and Bogart's reaction. Bogart is outstanding, just as he was in Casablanca. Same type of character: an apolitical American overseas who reluctantly winds up helping fight the Nazis. As for Brennan, normally I don't find drunks appealing, just sloppy and obnoxious. However, Brenenan is neither here; he''s simply fun to watch and someone you can't help but like. I think he was one of the more underrated actors of his time.
The story had a good blend of intrigue, action, suspense, comedy, beautiful women, great characters and great dialog. It''s too bad it has nowhere near the notoriety of Casablanca. It 's only a small notch below it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Lauren Bacall, who gave men the license to whistle, was blessed by
nature with two advantages: the personality of a buddy and the look of
a Femme Fatale...
This combination initially took the only 19-years-old actress to the top with her first two films 'To Have and Have Not' and 'The Big Sleep' scoring a success even the deadpan expressions of a Buster Keaton could not undermine...
It helped, of course, to be co-starred in them with Humphrey Bogart who fell in love with her during shooting, and to have Howard Hawks, who deliberately set out to prove that he could make her a star, directing her every move in the same totally controlled way Joseph Von Sternberg had done with Marlene Dietrich...
'To Have and Have Not' is an almost unrecognizable adaptation of the Hemingway novel... The Rick character again appears, though with a new name... The film is a fairly routinely adventure, with a plot that isn't all that interesting, and with a frequently laughable dialog, but it sparks into life when Bogart and the leading blonde, with whom he is deeply in love and to whom he will later be married, appear...
The girl is Lauren Bacall, in her first movie... Cool, smooth, and gorgeous, she sets the screen on fire from her first entrance... She was a new kind of heroine...
Opposite Bogart she was colorful and believable... She had no illusions about herself... She was used to getting by, making out as best she could... She wanted Bogey and she let him know it... She offers herself to him, bravely and without shame: ' You know you don't have to act with me, Steve. You don't have to say anything and you don't have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. (She opens his door and pauses.) You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together - and blow.'
With the effective use of her sexy, sultry, speaking voice and her confident eyes, Howard Hawks creates a new screen image, and one of the most sizzling yet sexual propositions on film...
Lauren Bacall has become heir to our memories of the truly memorable star of the 1940s, and, in her own way, one of them...
"To Have or Have Not" was remade as "The Breaking Point" with John Garfield and "The Gun Runners" with Audie Murphy and both were, inferior to the original
Each viewing of "To Have and Have Not" earns my greater appreciation of
the film. The comparisons to "Casablanca" are numerous and fans of
Humphrey Bogart will have no trouble picking them out one by one.
Bogey's character Harry Morgan is once again an expatriate on foreign
soil, though here he has no trouble calling himself an American. The
Peter Lorre part is handled by Marcel Dalio as hotel owner Frenchy,
while the Sydney Greenstreet presence is given to Dan Seymour, the
smarmy Gestapo captain. Add the smoldering presence of Lauren Bacall in
her screen debut, and you have the ingredients for an adventure film
that almost plays out stronger in each of it's mini chapters than in
the sum of it's parts. That's OK though, because each tableaux presents
us with rich characterization and a sense that we know who these
players are and what they're up to.
As most fans know, the legendary Bogey/Bacall team up began here, so I won't dwell on that. What's worth mentioning though is Bacall's brazen confidence in carrying out her role in what looks like a casting call mismatch. Only a teenager at the time of filming, she looks to be about thirty, with dialog that belies her years. Though her scenes with Bogart are electric even to this day, it's worth noting her chemistry with Dolores Moran near the end of the film. The times "Slim" and Mrs. de Bursac appear together, their subliminal clash over "Steve" fairly screams "meow". That's why it's all the more comical when Bogey's character begins his operation on Paul, "Slim" uses a leaf fan to waft chloroform fumes in the direction of the fainted madame - outrageous!
My first introduction to Walter Brennan was his famous TV role as Grandpa McCoy in "The Real McCoys" series of the late 1950's. Here, with a hitch in his giddyup, Brennan sports an early tryout for that television role, but with a reliance on alcohol. He's fairly philosophical about it though - "Drinkin' don't bother my memory, if it did I wouldn't drink. You see, I'd forget how good it was, then where'd I be, start drinkin' water again". The best exchange between Eddie (Brennan) and Harry takes place on board the fishing boat as Harry explains the kind of danger they might be in. It's a masterful dialog that brings Eddie to sobriety real quick.
The film's sinister side is revealed when Vichy authorities intend to disrupt any activity that might prove detrimental to German interests. As the Free French resistance look for a suitable base to continue their opposition on the island of Martinique, Captain Renard (Seymour) warns Morgan and company - "We are only interested in those persons who have broken the rules laid down for their behavior". Morgan is busy breaking the rules all over the place, and gets right down to the frightening business at hand by roughing up Renard and his bunch when it appears his time on the island is growing short. Here, letters of transit are known as harbor passes, in another nod to Bogey's better known film.
Today's viewing of the film was my third, and as mentioned earlier, it gets better each time. It helps that Humphrey Bogart is my favorite actor, but that begs the question, did Bogey make the films, or did the films make the actor. As in "Casablanca", "The Maltese Falcon, "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" and "The Big Sleep", the events and characters come together to create an unforgettable story. And if for no other reason, no matter how many times you watch "To Have and Have Not", it's always worth watching right to the very end, even if just to catch Lauren Bacall's sweet sashay to the strains of Hoagy Carmichael's piano.
The screen adaption of Ernest Hemingway's To Have and Have Not enjoys
its place in cinematic history because it is the first screen teaming
of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Turns out to have been a personal
milestone for the both of them as well.
I was watching my VHS copy of To Have and Have Not today and included was the movie trailer and in it Warner Brothers announced it was introducing two exciting new screen personalities, Lauren Bacall and Dolores Moran. Ms. Moran was pretty enough and gave a nice performance as the wife of the resistance leader, but some careers take off and some don't. Didn't hurt Lauren that she married her leading man either.
The location of our story is Martinique right after the fall of France in 1940. As a French colonial possession Martinique fell into the hands of the Vichy collaborationist government. They didn't get free of them until 1943, months after the Germans occupied all of France in November of 1942.
Humphrey Bogart is an expatriate American along the lines of his Richard Blaine character in Casablanca. He doesn't own a swank nightclub, he's just got a charter fishing boat that lives on and runs with an alcoholic pal, Walter Brennan. But like in Casablanca, a shooting in a nightclub of his client Walter Sande gets him involved with the local Vichy police and the politics of the island.
It also gets him involved with Lauren Bacall who's just looking for a way to get back to the USA. She's not above a little light fingered action to help herself, but all that does is get her introduced to Bogey. And their sizzling scenes made cinematic history.
To Have and Have Not is fortunate to have the presence of Hoagy Carmichael one of the greatest musical talents America ever produced. He plays Cricket, the club piano player and he sings and plays Hong Kong Blues one of his greatest songs. Hoagy also wrote for this film, How Little We Know, which Bacall sings for her supper.
Dan Seymour and Sheldon Leonard play a couple of especially smarmy Vichy police officials. They have the upper hand until the very end when tables get turned rather suddenly. The only two film I've ever seen something turn that quickly is John Ford's Wagonmaster and the Richard Widmark police drama, Madigan. You can only push Bogey just so far.
Even in revivals today when Lauren Bacall tells Bogey all he need do is whistle and she'll come running, the whistles of affection will go up in theater. As well they should.
Most film fans know the famous bet made between Ernest Hemingway and
legendary director Howard Hawks (SCARFACE, BRINGING UP BABY). Hawks
he could make a good film out of Hemingway's worst novel. He does and
Hemingway hopefully paid up. The great author must have forgot the star
power Hawks had in access to in Bogart and Walter Brennan because that is
exactly what drives the film. They are backed by the writing of William
Faulkner and the direction of Hawks, who is always able to have his actors
deliver slick lines quickly and effectively to have the story run smoothly.
Oh yeah, an actress named Betty Bacall makes her debut opposite these
legends and makes what I consider the most auspicious debuts of any actress
from the 1940's. She meshes well with Bogie, trading quips and matching
future hubby line for line. The real star of TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT is
Hawks, a director who could create comedy, suspense, and art amidst a
I never read Hemingway's novel, so I couldn't tell you whether it was his worst. I believe Hemingway made the gesture and Hawks showed him up. Notice touches of the previous year's all-time classic CASABLANCA (this time the owner of the foreign booze bar is the roulette manager from CASABLANCA). World War II is a backdrop, Bogie is a cynic with that heart of gold, and he helps his "rummy" buddy, played by Walter Brennan. Bogie helped the low-life likes of Peter Lorre and Sidney Greenstreet in 'Blanca and in this one, his scenes with Brennan are comic relief. Brennan plays a funny drunk who is prone to spilling his guts after a few rums. Bogie's "Harry Morgan" rents his boat to rich Americans for fishing and will lend a hand towards the French war effort with his sailing skills much like his power to give the infamous "letters of transport" to Ingrid Bergman and Paul Henreid. Similarities aside, there is an original piece of work to see in this well-paced semi-thriller, with Bogie, Bacall, and Hawks to send them sailing into cinematic history.
"Just put your lips together and blow," will live in filmgoer's minds forever, as will the fact that Bogart and Bacall practically fall in love right in front of our eyes. A problem I had with the film was the annoying interference of the copycat (CASABLANCA) French police. Sorry, no Claude Rains to add some spice to it. I understand the movie contrasts starkly with the novel, depicting the characters at an earlier age. It is predictable and you know which girl is Bogart's. It is entertaining to see Walter Brennan squirm and tick as a hopeless alcoholic who can't seem to remember a conversation that took place 5 minutes prior. True, Hawks has no official writing credit, but the film has that Hawks touch because of the humor and genuine quality the main characters present. TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT is a picture to sit back and watch as brash, Hollywood filmmaking of the 1940's and a nice piece of classic Hawks who moved onto THE BIG SLEEP with Bogart and Bacall soon after. Its good but not the best of Hawks or Bogart.
RATING: 7 OF 10
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Director Howard Hawks made a bet with Ernest Hemingway, stating that he
could make a good movie out of Hemingway's worst novel. I don't know
who won or how much the bet was for, but my money is on Hawks.
Set on the island of Martinique, Hawks' "To Have and Have Not" stars Humphrey Bogart as a suave fisherman who rents his boat and services to anyone with money. Alongside him is Lauren Bacall's Marie Browning, a weary traveller who falls in love with him. They call each other by nicknames - she's "Slim" and he's "Steve" - but there's no mush between them. Their romantic scenes mostly consist of witty dialogue, written by William Faulkner and Jules Furthman, but played like a chess match. Consider a scene in which Bacall kisses Bogey. Bogey asks what the verdict is, she tells him she dosn't know yet and goes in for another.
Walter Brennan, in one of his greatest roles, plays the rummy Eddie, who thinks he takes care of Bogie when in reality it's the other way around. The movie never questions their relationship. Clearly Eddie is an alcoholic, and a pain in the butt, but Bogey's loyalty to him is unfaltering. We thus know that when Bogey is eventually asked to help the French resistance, he can't say no, despite his barbed dialogue and tough-guy facade.
Some scholars will tell you that Hawks' films are about male bonding, but they're about bonding, period. And notice that Bacall's character bonding with Bogey is more central to the story than even Bogey and Brennan. Of course such strong female characters are typical in Hawks' films. Consider Rita Hayworth in "Only Angels Have Wings", Bacall again in "The Big Sleep" and Ann Sheridan in "I Was a Male War Bride".
But of all these women, Bacall makes the biggest impression. She was discovered by Hawks' wife from a magazine photo, and she fell into cinema with great ease, with her gruff voice, strong face, and soft eyes. She never had another role as good as this one.
Hawks was, above all, a storyteller. His eye for characters, actors, locations, music, timing, pace, and for cutting out the boring crap, was impeccable. Take one particular moment of intensity in which Bogey shoots one of the bad guys from a gun concealed in a desk drawer. He then pulls out the gun and aims it at the remaining thugs. After a moment, he realises his hand is shaking. "Look at that," he says to the bad guys. "Isn't that silly?" He shifts the gun to his other, steadier hand. "That's how close you came."
"To Have and Have Not" offers some good adventure, romance (both on and off screen), and is a great example of a particular type of writing. The only positive that big-brother "Casablanca" has over it - both films essentially tell the same tale of war-time responsibility - is in its use of space. Rick's bar (in Casablanca) is chartered by Michael Curtiz's camera in such a way that it almost becomes a place you'd like to visit, or feel you already have. It's a three dimensional space, and we're given a tour of every nook and cranny.
In contrast, Hawks is a two dimensional director. He is unable to flesh out the bars and "Casablanca" inspired Hotel in which his film largely takes place. We get great lighting, great compositions, but it's all flat. We don't feel like this is a tangible, real space. Hawks' command of mood, editing, lighting and music almost makes up for this, but not quite.
8.9/10 - Underrated.
"To Have and Have Not" is notable mainly for an electric first teaming
of soon-to-be marrieds Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, and this free
adaptation of a Hemingway story gives the stars plenty of time to
shine. Bacall in particular steals the show with her checkered suits
and her husky voice 'You know how to whistle, don't you? Put your lips
together and blow.'
'The Look' was certainly an accurate description of this fine lady's first screen appearance. In support is comical Walter Brennan, as Bogart's drunken pal. Most memorable are the sequences where Bacall 'sings' (according to legend with the vocal help of Andy Williams!) to Hoagy Carmichael's accompaniment; and the lazy, sexy repartee between the two leads. A sizzling 40s confection from the great Howard Hawks.
In To Have and Have Not, director Howard Hawks, as usual, uses a set of
relationships to explore moral values. Here, the relationships are
between Humphrey Bogart as a deep-sea fishing boat captain in
Vichy-controlled Martinique, who is approached by the Free French for
help in their resistance, Walter Brennan, as Bogart's alcoholic
sidekick, and Lauren Bacall as a femme fatale working her way from port
to port: what's explored is the moral paradox that in order to keep
your independence, you have to accept responsibility for others. These
relationships develop in an almost musical pattern.
Few critics seem to have noticed the delicacy and depth with which the Bogart/Brennan relationship is portrayed: Brennan's response to being slapped by Bogart -- "I wouldn't do that to you..." is very moving and a great moment in cinema, as is Brennan's subsequent realization "I know why you done it: you didn't want me to come because you was afraid I'd get hurt! I'm all right now..."
The more you think about this film, the more moral complexity and depth you can see in it, since Hawks makes his most important points indirectly, by collocation. Take the early scene with Bogart's rich client Johnson, who loses a trophy fish and expensive fishing tackle, obviously through his own incompetence and arrogance (he refuses to take Bogart's and Horatio's advice.) Later, Johnson tries to cheat Bogart out of the very considerable sum of money he owes him. There's a moral lesson here: the man who is "not good enough" (that fundamental Hawksian value) physically is also not good enough morally. This doesn't mean you have to be physically strong or tough to be good (more on this below,) it means that being good enough means being able to handle yourself properly both in the physical and the moral realm: "good" is the same in both.
But there is more to it than that, as two more debts come into play. Later, Bogart removes some money from Johnson's wallet in partial payment of the debt just after Johnson is killed. With this act a second "level" of the morality of indebtedness is identified: a good man is permitted to bend the law when he's sure it's morally correct (though it's significant that Bogart immediately has the money taken away from him by the authorities, perhaps teaching us that if we're going to act superior to the law, even if we are justified in the moral realm, we still have to pay the real world price.) The indebtedness theme is further developed in a third restatement (again musical terminology comes to mind) where Mama offers to cancel Bogart and Bacall's large hotel bills if he'll agree to treat the wounded resistance fighter they are harboring. Bogart, who had previously refused to do so, now accepts the job but says they'll still owe the bills. Here a third level of the validity of debt is identified: Bogart has learned that if you are going to do something because it is right, then you had better do it because it is right, not for some other reason. He has grown in stature and reached a higher level of existential awareness: he acts rightly not for money, but because he wants to prove to himself that he is the sort of person who acts rightly, and taking money for the act would be a refutation of that claim.
The Johnson scene also launches another theme subsequently developed in the same almost musical manner: do you have to be tough and strong to be good enough both in the physical and the moral realms? At first it might seem the answer is yes: Bogart is tough and strong and good enough; Johnson is weak and soft and not good enough. But we see there's more to it than that as we follow Bogart's relationships with Brennan and the resistance fighter. Brennan is a lame alcoholic who is terrified at the prospect of gunfire, but he manages to do what's necessary when it comes. And the resistance fighter is by his own admission not physically courageous -- his skittishness nearly spoils the mission and gets him wounded -- and yet he's committed to the stunningly audacious goal of getting a fellow resistance leader off of Devil's Island. He's afraid, but as Bogart tells his wife, "He didn't invent it." The lesson, again taught by indirection and collocation but taught clearly, is that not being tough and strong doesn't mean you can't be good enough, it just means you have two more obstacles to overcome in order to get there.
Much more could be said about the film's interlacing moral themes, but the above may be enough to open up the issue, which is all that can be done in a short notice.
For the rest: Very loosely based on what Hawks and Hemingway reportedly agreed was Hemingway's worst novel, the film also features Hoagy Carmichael as a saloon pianist, and introduced his song "Baltimore Oriole," which becomes a sort of sound track Leitmotif, though it's never actually sung in the film. Little attention has been paid to Hawks' use of music: it's very significant when and how the song is played in the background, and though you never hear the lyrics, if you happen to know them, they add much to the atmosphere. To have and Have Not has also been called the only movie associated with two Nobel Prize winners (William Faulkner, who co-wrote the screenplay, and Hemingway.) Despite what some film books say, Lauren Bacall did her own singing: the legend that it was a teen-aged Andy Williams was denied by Hawks himself.
Finally, lest I be accused of turning this into an art film, To Have and Have Not is a hugely entertaining movie with great lines, terrific atmosphere and a serious undercurrent, and should be recommended for all.
Harry Morgan owns a fishing boat for hire on the small island of
Martinique. France has fallen and tensions are high, although Harry is
happy to stay out of it and just earn his money. However an offer to
carry some revolutionaries off the island sees him caught up in police
suspicions when the deal comes to light. This, combined with his
attraction to fellow American "Slim" Browning forces Harry to
re-evaluate his "out for himself" values.
Although the continued success of this film owes a lot to the pairing of Bogart and Bacall, there is enough going for the rest of the film to make it stand up down the years. The plot is very interesting in Hawks look at a man who tries to take a distanced approach to the problem of others before standing up to be counted; I don't know enough about the period to really know what context he was putting this forward in but it is still interesting enough and does make the character of Steve/Harry a lot more complex. The plot goes down a standard road of wartime thriller but it is still very engaging and well told. The direction is top notch and has a real sense of atmosphere despite the production being limited to soundstages.
Of course a major reason the film works is the cast. Bogart does "downbeat but ultimately heroic" better than many others and he does it well here tough, smart and morally challenged. Bacall has less of a character to speak of but she makes up for that by sheer force of personality; personally I don't find her that attractive but she fair sparks across the screen and her delivery is very sexual throughout. The two fell in love during the film and it does show on screen, with a great chemistry and real sexual tension between them a heavy amount of classic scenes and hot moments also helps. Support is good from Brennan and Seymour but the "Free French" are not that well developed and are not as interesting as they should have been.
Overall this is a classic film with an interesting plot, interesting characters, a tough and heavy atmosphere, good performances and a central duo that really spark off each other. It may be a standard wartime thriller on the surface but everything seems to come together really well and produce a film that is memorable for a collection of reasons.
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