TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1945) B/W 100 m dir: Howard Hawks
w/Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan, Dolores Moran, Hoagy Carmichael, Sheldon Leonard, Walter Szurovy, Marcel Dalio, Walter Sande, Dan Seymour, Aldo Nadi, Walter Molnar
From The Movie Guide: "The dialogue is sharp, the direction first-rate, and the acting superb, but TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT is undoubtedly best remembered for the on- and off-screen romance between Bogart and Bacall. Warner Bros. wanted another CASABLANCA, and in many ways Bogart's character here resembles his classic portrait of Rick Blaine.
"It is WWII and France has just fallen to the Nazi occupation. Bogart, living on the island of Martinique, is the owner of a cabin cruiser, the Queen Conch, on which he takes wealthy customers on fishing trips. Working with him is Brennan, a not-too-bright alcoholic with an amiable demeanor. Bogart is approached by Dalio, a member of the French resistance, who asks Bogart to help smuggle one of the underground movement's top leaders (Molnar) into Martinique. Bogart, who cares little for politics, turns him down. Bacall appears, asking Bogart for help in getting off the island. Now Bogart agrees to make the dangerous run for Dalio.
"Stylish and loaded with humor, this immensely entertaining film was the result of an argument between director Hawks and novelist Ernest Hemingway. On a fishing trip in Florida with the author, Hawks tried to convince Hemingway that he should come to Hollywood to work on a screenplay. When Hemingway indicated no interest in Hawks's proposal, the filmmaker reportedly responded by boasting that he could make a film out of Hemingway's worst book, which Hawks felt was To Have and Have Not. Hemingway's novel is set in Cuba and the Florida Keys in the 1930s. In it, the character that Bogart plays is less heroic, a married man with children, who is forced to run booze and men on his boat when his financial situation becomes desperate. Hawks kept the title and the character, then threw out the Hemingway story. The next task for Hawks was casting. Bogart seemed perfect for the part of Harry Morgan, but who was fiery enough to play opposite him? Hawks took a chance on an unknown talent named Betty Bacall, a beautiful, 18-year-old New York model who was virtually unknown in Hollywood. Hawks had become interested in Bacall after his wife spotted her on the cover of Vogue. The electricity between the two stars was always intended to be the heart of the film, but Bogart and Bacall's onscreen romance had a steamy verisimilitude that went way beyond anybody's expectations. As it became obvious the two were becoming involved, Hawks reportedly warned Bacall that the 45-year-old Bogart was just using his young costar to escape from a bad marriage and that when the filming was over, Bogart would forget about her. Worried that Bacall's infatuation with Bogart would cause the young actress to blow her big chance, Hawks is said to have threatened to sell her contract to Monogram. Of course, this was an empty threat, and some have even suggested that Hawks used the offscreen affair to heighten the on-screen romance. (Tellingly, in the film Bogart and Bacall refer to each other as 'Steve' and 'Slim,' the pet names Hawks and his wife had for each other.)"
From the website Combustible Celluloid (www.combustiblecelluloid.com), this article about the film by Jeffrey M. Anderson:
"Director Howard Hawks made a bet with Ernest Hemingway that he could make a good movie out of his worst novel. I don't know who won or how much the bet was for, but my money is on Hawks.
"To Have and Have Not is a perfect companion piece to Casablanca, which is one of America's favorite movies. Casablanca is more beloved than To Have and Have Not, presumably because Americans prefer sentiment over camaraderie; Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman fall in love, while Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall get to know one another. Although both movies are satisfying, To Have and Have Not leaves a more satisfying taste, precisely because Hawks isn't trying for any specific emotional effect other than friendship. The result is smooth filmmaking, in which the audience is able to relate to flawed characters and meet them halfway.
"Humphrey Bogart plays a fisherman who rents his boat and his services to anyone with money. Lauren Bacall is a weary traveler who falls in love with him. They call each other by nicknames. She's 'Slim' and he's 'Steve.' There is no mush between them. Their one romantic scene consists of witty, sharp dialogue, written by William Faulkner and Jules Furthman (two of the greatest writers the movies ever had). Bacall kisses Bogey. Bogey asks what the verdict is. She replies 'I don't know yet,' and goes in for another. The scene ends with the famous, 'you know how to whistle, don't you Steve?' line.
"Walter Brennan, in one of his greatest roles, is the rummy Eddie, who thinks he takes care of Bogie, but really 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 know that when he is 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 I'll go one further and say that they're about bonding --- period. Bacall's character bonding with Bogey is more central to the story in To Have and Have Not than even Bogey and Brennan. There are many other strong females in Hawks movies as well (Rita Hayworth in Only Angels Have Wings, Bacall again in The Big Sleep, Ann Sheridan in I Was a Male War Bride; the list goes on and on), but this is his finest example. Bacall was discovered by Hawks' wife in a magazine photo, and she fell into cinema with great ease using 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 bullstuff, was impeccable. We slip into the story with such ease that we don't even notice we're watching a movie until it's over. I was blown away by one particular moment of intensity in which Bogey shoots one of the bad guys from a gun concealed in a desk drawer. He pulls the gun and aims it at the remaining bad guys. After a moment, he realizes 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 is a great adventure movie, a great romance (both on and off screen), a great example of film writing, and a great essay on how to make a movie. I've given you four good reasons to check it out."