Sunday, June 17, 2012

167. To Have and Have Not (1944)

Running Time: 100 minutes
Directed By: Howard Hawks
Written By: Jules Furthman, from novel by Ernest Hemingway
Main Cast: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan, Dolores Moran, Hoagy Carmichael
Click here to view the trailer


No sooner did I get finished praising Howard Hawks for being a versatile director, one that can turn any unappealing story into something that I want to watch, then he hands me a very BORING film. I hate to use the word "boring" when describing a bad film, but, trust me, it's a word that fits perfectly here, in regards to "To Have and Have Not".

Harry Morgan (Bogart) owns a fishing boat, which he rents out to paying customers in Fort de France, Martinique. The film is set in 1940, shortly after France has fallen to Germany, during their successful invasion. Morgan doesn't have any political affiliation and doesn't care one way or another whether the resistance reigns or falls. The only Harry Morgan concerns himself with is getting paid when a customer rents his boat for the day. Harry also has a sidekick on the boat, an elderly drunk named Eddie (Brennan), who judges people based on their answer to the question: "Have you ever been stung by a dead bee?".  Later, Harry meets Marie a.k.a. Slim (Bacall), a crafty pickpocket trying to make enough money for a plane ticket out of France. One night, Harry and Slim's favorite hangout, a little place owned by a little man named Frenchy, is shot up and when the police arrive, Harry and Slim are taken in for questioning. Harry makes enemies with the police Captain right away and later, decides to help Frenchy smuggle some members of the resistance into Martinique, mostly because all the money he had to his name was seized by the police. With a romance budding between Harry and Slim, a smuggled man and wife hiding in the basement of Frenchy's (the husband, of whom, has been shot in the arm) and the police breathing down all their backs, there's plenty of irons on the fire.

However, just because there are irons on the fire doesn't mean you're smellin' home cookin'. I have absolutely no idea what that's supposed to mean, but what I meant for it to mean was that, despite the amount of action and goings on in "To Have and Have Not", it's still a fairly boring picture. Now, as I was saying above, I really hate chalking a film up as boring and leaving it at that. I usually like to elaborate on that argument, because the argument of boring is one that is cited so many times, without proper argument to back up the claim. I just had absolutely no interest in Harry Morgan, Slim, the French Resistance or the smuggled members of their party. There didn't even seem to be enough story here to fill out one hundred minutes of film time. I mean, when you dissect it, what's really happening here? Harry Morgan is a fisherman with no political affiliation, who gets talked into helping the resistance smuggle in a few members of their party. Is that really enough for an entire film? It really wasn't.

Plus, I can't say I've ever really been a big fan of Bogey. I know, I know, I'm a movie fan and as a movie fan, it's a right of passage to enjoy a good Humphrey Bogart film, but I'll be damned if he doesn't always play the same guy. According to THE BOOK, Harry Morgan and Rick Blaine are almost interchangeable. Now, I haven't seen "Casablanca" in quite a few years, but that seems about right to me, if memory serves. Sam Spade even has the same demeanor as the two of them and beyond that I can't talk intelligently about Bogart characters, but I've seen enough clips to know that Bogart is always fed a bunch of clever lines, usually said from under the rim of some sort of hat, with a bit of snarkiness to them, while a cigarette dangles from his lips. Lauren Bacall didn't impress me that much either, basically portraying the female equivalent of Bogart. In fact, it was the minor characters that I got the most enjoyment out of here. Once again I enjoyed Walter Brennan very much and now I'm not so sorry that my father made me listen to "Old Rivers" so much, whenever he made me track it down on YouTube. Hoagy Carmichael is always enjoyable in films too and usually provides a good tune or two, to at least give your ears a rest. Here he belts out a song called "Hong Kong Blues" and if I wasn't dying for this film to end, I would've rewound and listened a second time.

RATING: 4/10  I can't go too much higher than that. It's a shame too, because I was really expecting Hawks to wind up with an unscathed record. Oh well, there's always next time. Next up: "The Big Sleep".


June 17, 2012  12:27am


  1. It is so refreshing to find a blog that actually calls out when "classics" are just plain boring. (though I did enjoy To Have and Have Not). I feel the same way about movies like Cabaret. I have a similar blog on I have a feeling we have similar taste...

  2. It's funny - overall we agree that this is about an average film (I may have liked it a smidge more than you), but I liked the things you didn't like and you liked what I didn't. I don't care for songs just thrown into movies that don't advance the plot, so I could have done without the Hoagie Carmichael bits. They left me bored and waiting to get back to the plot, which I thought was pretty good. I enjoy Bogart, but he does seem to play the same role in every movie. Not much more to add except that I also saw the strong similarities to Casablanca, so the whole thing felt a bit unoriginal.

    I also have to agree with Amanda that it's great that you are unafraid to call it like you see and pan a classic. That's why I've come back to get your take every time I finish a film from the list.

    1. I'm truly flattered that you check my blog every time you watch a film. That's awesome. Yeah, Bogart does nothing for me, but you said you've been peeking for a while now, so you probably already know that.


SINS OF OMISSION - Entry #66: La piscine/The Swimming Pool (1969)

Running Time: 120 minutes Directed By: Jacques Deray Written By: Jean-Claude Carriere, Jacques Deray, Alain Page Main Cast: Alain Del...