Saturday, June 5, 2010

To Have and Have Not. A-


'To Have and Have Not' is nothing like the Ernest Hemingway story on which it's based. Hemingway's novel was a mix personal experience, bleak realism, and narrative experimentalism. It frequently wandered off the track, especially during the second half, making it nearly impossible for a coherent cinematic adaptation to be made. Hemmingway himself disliked the book and didn't think that Howard Hawks could make a movie out of it. Hawks proved him wrong. Not only did he make a glittering film that takes some good lesson from 'Casablanca,' he also cast Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall in the two leading roles. It was the beginning of one of Hollywood's most worshiped on and off-screen couples. In the movie, Bogart plays Harry Morgan, a fisherman in France whose moral compass is a bit wayward. Yes, he tries to do what's right, but if the money suits him, he allows it to overtake his moral principles. Needless to say, Bogart is the perfect choice for the role. After a friend who owes him a large amount of money is shot, Morgan is hired to transport some fugitives who are on the run from the Nazis. Bacall's character is also pretty shifty. She's traveled all around, and isn't afraid to pickpocket strangers or nonchalantly confess when she's caught. Bacall, who was only 19 at the time, is also an ideal casting choice. Her radiant beauty and slightly deep voice makes her out to be the ultimate good girl/bad girl. The story here is dense and very good, but the best part about watching 'To Have and Have Not' is because of Bogart and Bacall. Ironically, they were the main reason I gave for recommending 'The Big Sleep,' which William Faulkner co-wrote. Guess who's included in the writing credits for this movie, too?

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