Friday, November 20, 2009

#424: To Have and Have Not (1944)

Director: Howard Hawks
Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan, Marcel Dalio & Dan Seymour

Just after the fall of France thanks to Vichy, the French Caribbean suffered under the new regime, though it often was overlooked. To Have and Have Not sets its tale in Martinique in 1940. American fisherman Harry Morgan (Bogart) finds himself in a pickle, trying to avoid allying himself with either the Vichy government or the French resistance.

This film is probably best known for one line, carried out by Lauren Bacall: "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? Just put your lips together, and blow." To Have and Have Not was Bacall's first role in a film, at the tender age of 19. And I'm surely not the only one to say, but my, girls just don't mature the same way as they used to. She has one of the most sultry voices you'll get from the leading ladies of the '40s. It comes as no surprise, then, that this is also the film in which Humphrey Bogart fell in love with her, leading to a marriage (despite the 25-year age difference).

The music by William Lava and Franz Waxman is phenomenal, particularly the songs performed on screen by Hoagy Carmichael. Carmichael has an incredibly impressive resume - take a look at his IMDB profile and glance at some of the songs he's written that have been used in films for decades.

Now here's the beef. I found this film to be pretty much identical to Casablanca. They both feature Bogart in a role where he's stuck in the middle of riots between the Vichy gendarmes and the French resistance in an exotic landscape, where he meets a beautiful and intriguing girl. The strange thing about this is that the story has been completely altered from the original novel by Hemingway to actually reproduce what had been done in Casablanca intentionally. Who does that!?

Still, the film is hailed as one of Bogart's finest, with a 100% rating on RottenTomatoes. I don't agree with it - it's certainly not as good as Casablanca... but it's still a very good, classic film.

Fun Trivia (Stolen from IMDB):
  • Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall fell in love during production. Director Howard Hawks afterward said that it was actually Bacall's character Marie that Bogart had fallen for, "so she had to keep playing it the rest of her life." However, it has also been said that Hawks - who was something of a womanizer, and who had a fling withDolores Moran during the shooting of the film - was jealous and frustrated that Bacall had fallen for Bogart and not for Hawks himself.
  • The setting was shifted to Martinique because the Office of Inter-American Affairs would not have allowed export of a film showing smuggling and insurrection in Cuba.
  • The most famous scene in To Have and Have Not (1944) is undoubtedly the "you know how to whistle" dialog sequence. It was not written by Ernest Hemingway, Jules Furthman or William Faulkner, but by Howard Hawks. Hawks wrote the scene as a screen test for Bacall, with no real intention that it would necessarily end up in the film. The test was shot with Warner Bros. contract player John Ridgelyacting opposite Bacall. The Warners staff, of course, agreed to star Bacall in the film based on the test, and Hawks thought the scene was so strong he asked Faulkner to work it into one of his later drafts of the shooting script.
  • The screenplay was rewritten to boost Slim's role to take advantage of the public interest in the real life romance between Lauren Bacalland Humphrey Bogart.

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