To Have and Have Not (DVD, 2006) Reviews
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To Have and Have Not (DVD, 2006)

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Best Movies To Have and Have Not, Bogart, Bacall and Walter Brennan, Hoagy, Hawks, Lean-N-Whistling

Feb 23, 2012
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Bogie, Bacall, Brennan, Hawks' direction

Cons:too few to mention

The Bottom Line: Classic Hawks Adventure-Romance with Bogie-Bacall charisma has similarities but I think it's better than Casablanca.

Howard Hawks’ 1944 To Have and Have Not was based on a lousy Hemingway novel, started a real life romance a former 19-year-old model (Bacall) and Bogie, and had a screenplay Hemingway, Hawks, Jules Furthman and William Faulkner made contributions to.

Howard Hughes sold the book rights to Hawks who sold it to Warners.  Hawks developed the story with Hemingway using character names and the basic set-up from the first quarter of the book. (Hawks supposedly told Hemingway he thought the novel was junk!).  The setting was changed from Cuba (at the time considered a good neighbor) to Martinique.

Fishing boat Captain Harry Morgan is pressured to help the French Resistance smuggle some people onto the island.  Morgan doesn’t want to get involved but his current client is shot dead before he can pay his bill.  Hotel owner Gerard aka Frenchy (Marcel Dalio) begs Harry to rent him his boat as a personal favor, Harry winds up helping smuggle Helene (Dolores Moran) and Paul deBursac (Walter Szurovy).   A romance develops between a young American con-artist Marie aka Slim (Lauren Bacall) and Morgan.  Harry’s friend and employee Eddie (Walter Brennan), a mostly loveable alcoholic assists.  The plot thickens and Harry is blackmailed into trying to help a man escape from Devil’s Island.  

Dan Seymour plays Police Captain Renard and Hoagy Carmichael plays the piano-player Cricket who’s befriended Marie (Slim).  Carmichael wrote the songs.

Lauren Bacall’s charisma led to writing some extra scenes for her and Bogie (like the famous You Know How To Whistle don’t you?).  Audiences ever since have wanted to ‘feel’ some sort of extra-chemistry between actors playing lovers in movies.  It’s certainly part of To Have and Have Not (and certainly wasn’t between Bergman and Bogie in Casablanca—though repetitious lines and good editing fools most).

Some say it’s a copy of Casablanca (some  elements and supporting players from Casablanca were used), ignoring the fact Hemingway’s novel was the basis and the second half of Casablanca was hastily written as it was filming cribbing ideas from several sources including Hemingway.  Some say it’s as light-as-a-feather with little story—which is actually a back-hand compliment to director Hawks.

Bacall’s sexy but still classy swagger and sultry voice hasn’t dated a bit (in 70 plus years) and the film has all of Hawks’ story-telling strengths, down-playing technical structure and creating a tone of tough-guy camaraderie and loyalty in a ‘fun’ but very dangerous adventure. The political issues and morality seemed to be down-played and Morgan’s character seems to slide into doing the right thing per his self-sacrificing, rough but still good-guy tendencies.  The saloon and fishing dock atmosphere isn’t pristine but is slightly dangerous and thus romantic.

Okay, it’s true, I think this is a better film than Casablanca (which I like too), but I understand how that film has been embraced so tightly for so many years as THE classic Romantic movie.

  ©2012, Christopher J. Jarmick

Recommend this product? Yes

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