To Have and Have Not (1944)

Directed by Howard Hawks

As the packaging on the DVD I have says, To Have and Have Not has little to do with the Ernest Hemmingway novel but it does have a lot to do with the earlier movie Casablanca.

You would think this film would be a poor knock-off of the earlier, classic movie but it has three things going for it that elevate it above that: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Howard Hawks. What we end up with is a pretty good, quickly paced romantic thriller.

Reprising his earlier role as Rick in Casablanca, albeit with a different name (Harry Morgan), Bogie is here captain of a ship that takes wealthy vacationers out fishing for marlin.

He doesn’t think a lot of these rich guys; he doesn’t have a high opinion of a lot of things. He’s a guy who looks out for number one, though he has a few friends he takes care of (notably the character played by Walter Brennan as a down-at-heel alcoholic).

Then he meets Bacall and all bets are off.

The effect they have is to turn one another into apparent chain-smokers – they’re constantly lighting cigarettes. There’s a flirtatious antagonism that goes on between them, in the true Hawk’s tradition.

Set during the war, just as in Casablanca Bogart helped the Resistance, here he helps the Free French … but only after Bacall has pulled him out of himself and made him a better man. Or something like that.

While not the best Bogart and Bacall film, and not Howard Hawk’s best work, the film is a delight to watch and is a great example of the type of movie people think of when they talk of old Hollywood movies – romantic, suspenseful and lots of fun.

(And, as always with films of this period and Hawks’ films generally, it has and uses a great supporting cast that really add to the pleasure of the film.)

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3 Responses to To Have and Have Not (1944)

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