To Have and Have Not
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To Have and Have Not (Humphrey Bogart Collection) (DVD)
Academy Award winner Humphrey Bogart stars with Lauren Bacall in thisclassic film loosely based on Nobel Prize winner Ernest Hemingway'snovel, To Have and Have Not. World War II. On the Caribbean island ofMartinique, Harry Morgan (Bogart) captains a charter boat and maintainsa policy of strict neutrality toward the war and Vichy France, whichcontrols the island. But everything changes when Morgan meets young,American cabaret singer Marie Browning (Bacall--in her screen debut) anda fugitive leader of the French Resistance who both need a way off theisland.]]>
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The plot itself is pretty unremarkable, and probably typical for WWII-era cinema. After he's gypped out of a rental fee by a spoiled client; stoic, self-reliant fishing-charter captain Harry, and his "rummy" friend and 1st mate, Eddie, reluctantly agree to help out Frenchy, a friend and local businessman on the French Caribbean island of Martinique after the out-break of World War 2. They're to use their fishing boat to make a night-time rendezvous to pick up a Free French agent and help him avoid the island's officials. But their plan goes awry after a brush with a Nazi U-boat leaves the agent shot and leaves Harry under the suspicion---and harassment---of the local Vichy officials who now are in control of Martinique. How Harry manages this to escape this predicament, and secure the increasing attentions of tough-but-beautiful Lauren Bacall, makes this just a great, fun movie that family and friends will love.
The supporting cast are just wonderful too. Walter Brennan is in classic form as the rummy "Eddie"---once an able seaman who's slowly becoming a shadow of himself due to drink---but who is still occasionally able to "give as good as he gets" and needles strangers with the plaguing question, "Was you ever stung by a dead bee?" Hoagy Carmichael is also in good form as the fun-loving hotel bar piano player "Cricket," who gives Bacall a chance to try life as a lounge singer. Her rendition of Johnny Mercer's "How Little We Know," and the old classic, "Am I Blue?" are just lovely moments and showcase her sultry beauty.
But of course it's the interplay between Bacall and Bogart that makes this film a piece of Hollywood history. Like Tracy & Hepburn or William Powell & Myrna Loy in the "Thin Man" series, it's their playfulness and watching their cool appraisals slowly turn to mutual desire that raises this from an average WW2 suspense picture into a rich portrait of human nature (and human foibles) under pressure. From Bacall's famous first line, "Does anybody have a match?," you can't take your eyes off her as you watch her dawning realization that tough-talking Harry may be the real thing, and he may be even more than the resigned hired man Harry sometimes appears to be.
If you're a Bogart fan, or just want to know more about American film history---or just want to enjoy a classic movie---by all means give this DVD a try!!
Howard Hawks' direction is solid, the cinematography well executed, and the supporting cast is very good. This movie is very enjoyable.
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