A private eye escapes his past to run a gas station in a small town, but his past catches up with him. Now he must return to the big city world of danger, corruption, double crosses and duplicitous dames.
Harry Morgan and his alcoholic sidekick, Eddie, are based on the island of Martinique and crew a boat available for hire. However, since the second world war is happening around them business is not what it could be and after a customer who owes them a large sum fails to pay they are forced against their better judgment to violate their preferred neutrality and to take a job for the resistance transporting a fugitive on the run from the Nazis to Martinique. Through all this runs the stormy relationship between Morgan and Marie "Slim" Browning, a resistance sympathizer and the sassy singer in the club where Morgan spends most of his days.Written by
Mark Thompson <email@example.com>
Ernest Hemingway's novel was set in Cuba and the Florida Keys in the 1930s and his Harry Morgan was a booze runner. Jules Furthman's early drafts retained this setting. The Office of Inter-American Affairs raised an objection to the filming of the novel because of its depiction of deep corruption and violence in Cuba. Part of the Roosevelt administration's "Good Neighbor Policy" was to encourage positive cooperation among the American nations to discourage the infiltration of Axis influence. The Inter-American Affairs office carefully monitored popular culture, especially motion pictures, and encouraged upbeat depictions of cooperation. Warners and Howard Hawks were not about to cancel the film outright. By most accounts, it was William Faulkner who saved the picture by suggesting a shift to the Vichy-controlled island of Martinique, which was not only out of the influence of the Inter-American office, it also afforded the opportunity to add Gestapo-influenced villainy. See more »
When the patrol boat is firing at Morgan's boat, the machine gun is not recoiling, the bolt is not moving, nor is there any gun smoke. With this type of MG, the bolt would recoil after every fired cartridge and would cause the whole gun to have some recoil effect. The gunner was just standing there; he would have to move his fingers or thumbs to fire the gun. See more »
Martinique, in the summer of 1940, shortly after the fall of France.
Forte de France
Officer at port:
Good Morning, Captain Morgan. What can I do for you today?
Same thing as yesterday.
Officer at port:
You and your client wish to make a temporary exit from the port?
*That* is right.
Officer at port:
Ha - Harry Morgan.
[...] See more »
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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