Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Lauren Bacall and Hoagy Carmichael
TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944). Director: Howard Hawks.

Charter boat captain Harry Morgan (Humphrey Bogart) meets up with adventuress Marie (Lauren Bacall) in Martinique just after France has fallen. Needing money, Harry agrees to bring two members of the French resistance, De Bursac (Walter Szurovy) and his wife (Delores Moran of Old Acquaintance), into Martinique, but he comes afoul of the corpulent Captain Renard once they arrive. Renard wants their whereabouts, and captures Harry's old sot friend, Eddie (Walter Brennan) to achieve his ends. But Harry may have a trick  or two up his sleeve ...  If you're expecting a serious or faithful version of Ernest Hemingway's novel of the same name, look elsewhere, for this movie is pure Hollywood and little else. Bogart and Bacall, who fell for each other while making this movie -- they were married the following year -- certainly had a unique chemistry despite the difference in ages and attractiveness. This was Bacall's first picture, and she's fine, probably due in no small measure to Hawks' special tutoring . Dan Seymour [Return of the Fly] is just plain strange as Renard, but amusing, speaking in musical cadences as he makes silent threats with his eyes and belly. Walter Brennan is Walter Brennan. The presence of real-life songwriter Hoagy Carmichael as Crickett, the piano player in a club, almost turns this into a semi-musical. The best thing about the movie is the ending, with both Bacall and Brennan boogieing their way out of the club, albeit in entirely different manners. As a thriller, if that's what it is, To Have and Have Not is almost a complete failure, as scenes that should crackle with tension are flat (if well-acted). The movie holds the attention for the most part, but it's a little too odd and Hollywood-ish to be effective. This was remade as The Breaking Point, which is a much better and much more serious picture.

Verdict: Not much to do with Ernest Hemingway. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

You're right Bill, other than being their first pairing, this is the least effective Bogey and Bacall picture. I so much prefer Key Largo and The Big Sleep. But Lauren Bacall was flawlessly beautiful in this one, you have to admit!

William said...

Yes, she looked great! And her performance was better than I remember.Some of her acting in the early days wasn't so hot ...