Classic Movie Watchlist 2018

Classic Movie Of The Week: To Have And Have Not (1944)

Starring: Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Hoagy Carmichael.

Director: Howard Hughes

Martinique, 1944, Harry (Bogart) and his alcoholic friend Eddie (Brennan) run a some what shady operation of a boat for hire. When a job falls through, they find themselves forced to take on a job for the Resistance, but they might have bitten off more than they can chew as they help someone escape the Nazi’s and Harry falls for the beautiful lounge singer Slim (Bacall) who sympathises with the Resistance. 

Though penned, amazingly, by Hemingway and William Faulkner, this film bears only a gentle resemblance to the book of the same name, and was in some ways largely improvised by Howard Hughes.

Coming off the back of Casablanca, Bogart has recently found his niche as an actor playing rogues with a heart of gold, and this film cashed in on that persona that was so popular. But this time, he was paired with an unknown that Hughes has his eye on. A young model he was bringing into the film business and hoping to take to bed, but instead, Bacall fell hook line and sinker for Bogart in one of Hollywood’s greatest romances. This is the film that brought them together, though it was not the last time the two would be paired up to sizzle on screen.  

I absolutely love Bacall and Bogart, as they are both warm and interesting performers in their own right, and have such great chemistry together. In this film, Slim, the lounge singer, is sassy and beautiful, but she’s also a tough cookie. In Harry, she finds her match, a man who is also a bit lived-in, who has seen life, but is also nobody’s fool.  Neither is just the romantic lead for the other, but a neatly drawn character with their own strengths.

I love the beautiful clothes that Bacall wears in this film, too.

There are some delightful one liners here, with the famous “You know how to whistle, dontcha? Just put your lips together and blow.” And there are also a few songs. This film has danger, intrigue, romance, humour, patriotism… It’s one of those classic films that you can rewatch over and over and still get a real kick out of. And it’s nice, after the ending of Casablanca, to have the happy ending here, with To Have And Have Not. As a literary adaptation, it’s terrible, but as a film in it’s own right, it’s a real crowd pleaser. 

See It If: this is a lovely war era film, with an adventurous plot, excellent performances, romance, jokes, snappy dialogue. It’s worth seeing for Bogart and Bacall, but you’ll stay to see what happens next. 

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