Tuesday, August 17, 2010

To Have and Have Not

If you at all have an affinity for screen writing or classic cinema you know the line “You know how to whistle don’t you? You just put your lips together and blow.” Lauren Bacall uttered these words in To Have and Have Not and the popularity of this line is why I had to finally see the film.

To Have and Have Not is a World War II film, but it’s a peculiar one at that. The closest film to it would be another Bogart classic, Casablanca. On the French island of Martinique the Germans have arrived and there is the beginnings of tension between the French resistance and the foreign power. Harry Morgan is a small fishing boat captain that rents his boat and skills to tourists with extra spending money. The first thing that blows into his life is another American runaway in the form of Marie Browning, a young, attractive woman who happens to be a pick-pocket. However, what really turns the tables on Harry is his landlord, who gets Harry and Marie pulled into business with the resistance. When the Germans catch wind everyone is under suspicion and it’s only a matter of time before the two American’s have to choose sides.

As good as Bogart is in this film, the standout is Lauren Bacall. This is her first film role and she sizzles on screen as the sultry young American that isn’t as naive as she seems. It’s obvious from her first lines why and how this woman went on to be one of our industry’s biggest stars. However, what’s so formidable is how she could hold her own against Bogart – a man with whom she would share the screen many times, and eventually marry.

To Have and Have Not is another example of an incredibly well written film. There is a verve and zest in the dialogue that too many films do not have today and that makes the film come alive even when the style of shooting may not fit what a modern audience is used to. The pace never ceases, and to the very end you are left wondering where times that like have gone.

Director: Howard hawks
Writers: Jules Furthman & William Faulkner
Harry “Steve” Morgan: Humphrey Bogart
Eddie: Walter Brennan
Marie “Slim” Browning: Lauren Bacall

Slim: Who was the girl, Steve?
Steve: Who was what girl?
Slim: The one who left you with such a high opinion of women.

1 comment:

Christina said...

You're right, she's absolutely splendid here. These kinds of films put me in awe of both the quality of the dialog and the grace and glamor that people carried themselves with. Seriously, where did that go?