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Customer Review

106 of 112 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Romance and Choices in Martinique, November 6, 2005
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This review is from: To Have and Have Not [VHS] (VHS Tape)
The summer of 1940 in Martinique as people began to choose sides is the setting for another Howard Hawks masterpiece. William Faulkner, who had adapted Raymond Chandler's complex novel for the director's other Bogart screen classic, "The Big Sleep," expanded a thin Hemingway story with writing partner Jules Furthman into another. This is sort of "Casablanca" with grit rather than gloss, and is just as enjoyable. "To Have and Have Not" does, in fact, outshine that film with its upbeat ending, and marks the real contrast between the two films, despite their similarities.

Bogart is Harry Morgan, trying to stay neutral about the local politics while he and his pal Eddie (Walter Brennan) take tourists ocean fishing in the waters of Martinique. His pal Frenchy (Marcel Dalio) wants him to use his boat to pick up a couple that will put him square in the middle of all that's going on both in Martinique and the rest of the world as the Germans make their move across the globe.

Morgan is fending off getting involved just fine until his latest fishing customer gets knocked off by accident before he can pay up. Complicating things further for Morgan is a newcomer named Marie Browning (Lauren Bacall) who sort of attaches herself to him from the moment they meet. She has come from Brazil by way of Trinidad and ends up in Martinique only because she doesn't have money to go any further. They seem a perfect fit despite all the sparring between them; a point driven home by her response to Eddie's question about bees. The viewer knows at that moment that she and Harry are a match made in Hollywood heaven.

Brennan is just terrific as Harry's old pal in constant need of a drink to keep the shakes at bay. He thinks he's looking after Harry when in fact it's Harry who's looking after him. The trademark male world of Howard Hawks is much in evidence here, as Bogart's autonomy begins to crack only when he finds his match in Bacall. Like many of Hawks' characters, Morgan lives by his own code and his own rules, and only breaks them out of loyalty to someone else. Another Hawks trademark of the sizing up of people from the inside out is also much in evidence here. Bogart and Bacall never even speak the other's name in this film: she calls him "Steve" and he refers to her as "Slim" throughout the entire film.

When Harry finally agrees to pick up Frenchy's pals in the Resistance to earn enough money to get Slim home, he gets more than he bargained for in more ways than one. It convinces Slim to stay on because she now knows for sure that "Steve" is the right guy. She gets a job singing for the piano player at the Hotel Martinique, Cricket (Hoagy Charmichael). And after a patrol boat takes a potshot at one of his passengers, his very beautiful wife begins to warm up to Harry in a big hurry, causing a bit of jealousy on Slim's part. Doloros Moran is very nice and quite pretty as that wife, Hellene de Bursac.

There are a ton of great exchanges between Bacall and Bogart here, the most famous being the "just whistle" scene. There are many others equally as good, however, including an exchange about strings that has Bacall walking around Bogart, and a great line from Bacall about walking home if it weren't for all that water. It is this latter exchange, and one other about Slim's lack of a reaction when being slapped that Hawks uses to highlight the personal baggage both Harry and Marie are bringing to the table.

A young Bacall looks gorgeous in gowns by Milo Anderson, and Sid Hickox's photography gives the film a real feel of a tiny island with palm trees lining the streets. Bogart's Harry will eventually engage in the fight when he decides he likes the people on one side and doesn't like the people on the other side. It is very much both a Hawks and Bogart type moment, the personal moral code of the anti-hero coming fully into play.

This is a fun film with great characters, lots of atmosphere, and an ending the polar opposite of "Casablanca." The song "How Little We Know" from Hoagy Charmichael and Johnny Mercer never amounted to much compared to the more famous "As Time Goes By" from "Casablanca," but works nicely with the mood Hawks created for his second film with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. If you're looking for a big dose of Bogie and Bacall, and want the kind of ending "Casablanca" didn't have, then "To Have and Have Not" is a sure bet to please you. A fine film and a true screen classic.
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Showing 1-10 of 18 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 3, 2008, 1:02:31 PM PST
HMS Warspite says:
Wow, great review!

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 6, 2008, 6:13:51 PM PST
Thanks very much. It's such a great classic film it would be difficult to mess up a review of it. They don't make 'em like that anymore...

Bobby Underwood

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2011, 7:27:16 PM PST
Seeker says:
Don't forget to see the Looney Tunes parody of this film 'Bacall to Arms'. Available on the WB golden collection, Vol. 5

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 7, 2011, 8:28:40 PM PST
Try to catch that sometime, thanks for the tip.

Posted on Nov 1, 2011, 9:05:01 PM PDT
I agree completely with D.S. Thurlow who said, "Wow, great review!" My husband was interested in seeing the film; after reading this review, he'll tell me to just forget the rental and buy it outright. Wish everyone did such a fantastic job of reviewing movies; anybody know of other movies Bobby Underwood has reviewed? Although I'm sure it would be informative, enlightening, and probably very entertaining to read them all, I really don't have time to wade through 702 reviews just to find the movie reviews. Thanks!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2011, 12:11:51 AM PDT
Thanks so much. I'm sure your husband will love this film. It is one of both Howard Hawks, and Bogart and Bacall's finest together. Always nice to hear positive feedback. Thanks again.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 2, 2011, 12:32:43 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 2, 2011, 12:33:25 PM PDT
You are entirely welcome! Can you remember off the top of your head other movie reviews you have posted on Amazon? I'd be particularly interested in any of the older movies (golden thirties and forties). Many thanks, and best wishes.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2011, 3:07:09 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 3, 2011, 3:59:13 PM PDT
Meet John Doe, Mr Deeds Goes to Town, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Mrs Miniver, Carefree, The Gay Divorcee, Swing Time, The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle, Comrade X, Charlie Chan Boxed Sets, Strange Cargo, Creature From The Black Lagoon, Cat People, D.O.A., The Kennel Murder Case, The Thin Man Boxed Sets, Doctor X, Dodge City, Enchanted Cottage (marvelous forgotten film), Escape (Norma Shearer, Robert Taylor), Fifth Avenue Girl, I'll Be Seeing You, Hands Across the Table, History is Made at Night, I See a Dark Stranger, Love Affair, Penny Serenade, I Walked With a Zombie, It Happened One Night, Jane Eyre, Johnny Angel, Joy of Living, Key Largo, King Kong, Laura (a must with Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews), Lady of Burlesque, Macao, Nothing Sacred, Random Harvest (another must), Sabotage, Scarface, Secret Agent, Young and Innocent, Seven Sinners (the Brit one, not the John Wayne film), Shadow of a Doubt, Slightly Honorable, Having Wonderful Crime, Star of Midnight, Strange Love of Martha Ivers, Christmas in Connecticut, Remember the Night, A Night to Remember (Loretta Young, Brian Aherne), Sullivan's Travels, Suspicion, The Big Steal, The Dark Mirror, The Dawn Patrol, The File On Thelma Jordan, The Lady Vanishes, The Major and the Minor, The Old Dark House, The Red House, The Stranger, The Thing From Another World, The Wolf Man, To Catch a Thief, Three Comrades (an absolute must see film!) They Won't Believe Me, Weekend at the Waldorf, Wuthering Heights, The Mummy (original), So Proudly We Hail, The Awful Truth, It Started With Eve (a must), The Uninvited (a must with Gail Russell and Ray Milland), The Blue Dahlia (another must with Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake), His Butler's Sister, Deanna Durbin Sweethearts DVD, The Third Man, I Am A Fugitive From a Chain Gang, The Glass Key, The Egg and I, The Devil and Miss Jones, Foreign Correspondent, Red Dust, Only Angels Have Wings, Bogart and Bacall Boxed Set, Wife vs. Secretary, The Amazing Mrs Holiday, I Love You Again, Love Crazy, Rebecca, Young in Heart, Sorry Wrong Number, Along Came Jones, and many others not readily available to my brain this morning! Thanks for asking.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011, 8:32:22 AM PDT
Oh, my gosh! This is incredible; thank you so much for taking the time to post this list. I am quite certain I will not be the only one to benefit, and even if I am not able to see all these films I look forward to reading your superb reviews. Something else I am quite certain of: You could have made your living as a premier reviewer of movies. Since it appears they are only allowed to write in "sound bites," however, you probably would not have been given enough space to say what you say so well. A great loss to the movie reviewing industry, and those of the general public who appreciate superior, dynamic reviews.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 4, 2011, 12:11:00 PM PDT
Thank you for your generous praise. Obviously there are too many classic films to collect them all, but hopefully you'll be able to see some you find to your liking even if only as a rental, as some video stores do still have a limited selection of classic films, and sometimes you can get an inexpensive copy from an Amazon seller. The Uninvited, Laura, and Three Comrades are definitely a must, in my opinion. But then, some of the others are fabulous too, and might touch a cord with you and your husband. They really do not make films, or stars, of the quality found during the 1930's and 1940's any more. Thanks for commenting here, and thanks for enjoying the reviews. :-) Bobby Underwood
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