Wednesday, June 4, 2008

To Have and Have Not

To Have and Have Not; Drama, USA, 1944; D: Howard Hawks, S: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan, Dolores Moran, Hoagy Carmichael

Martinique, the French island in the Caribbean Sea, during World War II and the Vichy regime. American Harry Morgan earns money by transporting fishermen on his boat, while one of his friends is the drunk Eddie. Harry is begged by a bunch of people from the French Resistance to smuggle their leader on the island, but he doesn't want to hear about it. Then he meets a girl, Marie, who steals in order to survive, thus falling in love with her. Even though she doesn't want it, he accepts to bring the leader. The man gets wounded by the control ship so Harry operates him and beats up the police. He leaves the island with Marie.

"You know how to whistle, don't you Steve? You just put your lips together and blow". That's definitely the most famous quote from the good humorous war thriller "Have and Have Not" whose parts are better than the whole. The screenplay was written by William Faulkner and based on the book with the same title written by Ernest Hemingway that was, ironically, called 'junk' by director Howard Hawks, even though he didn't hesitate to craft it himself. The great Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, who was only 19 years old during filming and had to talk with a deep voice, largely saved the story with too obvious parallels with "Casablanca's" themes and motives, but also thanks to their funny dialogues ("I'll make you something to eat." - "Don't bother!" - "Is there anything else I can do for you?" - "Yes, go to Hell!" or "Were you ever stung by a dead bee?"). Though it's a very competently made and crafted film, the biggest bother is the sluggish opening, overstretched feeling and banalities that seem to rely to much on the fact that old films can "dazzle" even with the most ordinary events.


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