Wednesday, June 8, 2011

'To Have And Have Not' Open Thread

  What did you think?


  1. That girl looks like trouble... especially in that top photo.

    This could be good!

  2. That girl looks like trouble...

    Oh, she is, she is!

  3. A couple years back I went on a beach trip with my youngest daughter, Bren, and the first evening 'To Have and Have Not' came on. After a few moments I turned to her and said, "This is a good one!", and to my surprise she returned a big smile and replied "Yeah, Dad!" Good memories. And she was right, of course. It was a very good one! It was so well written, and I just loved Bogart's character: tough, principled, street wise and yet good hearted. From the way he dealt with the dead weight Mr. Johnson, to his watching and calling "Slim" on the carpet, to his protective relationship with Eddie, to dealing with the French intelligence types, he was really great.

  4. I'm watching in chunks again. Hardly ideal, but it doesn't take anything away from moments like:

    "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?"

    Happy sigh.

    More later!

  5. Funnily enough, the first time I saw this beauty I didn't think all that much of it; it seemed like another so-so attempt to remake Casablanca.
    I came back to it again when I first got into Hemingway in a big way. I read the novel and realised how very different it was, and that for some reason was the key to enjoying the movie. I found myself in the position of the screenwriters, faced with turning Papa's downbeat meditations into a Bogart movie. The great thing is that there is an authentic Hemingway flavour to this, even though the only plot element it uses is the bit at the start where the guy tries to fleece Bogie of his charter money. (And that ends differently.)
    Then a bit later I read what is apparently the well-known story that the whole film came about as a bet between Huston and Hemingway that the former could make a great film of his worst book, which he claimed this was.
    Because of the retention of Hemingway's spirit, as it were, there's a more serious, slightly doomier feel to this than the other Bogart films, certainly than Casblanca. (Key Largo comes close.)
    I love the detail, the snippets of the lives the characters lead; I think I like the earlier scenes, before the plot kicks in, the best, for this reason. Bogie's character is not as dramatic as Rick, but deeper and more satisfying to me.
    It's also my favourite Bacall appearance. I never quite came under her spell the way others seemed to (I preferred Martha Vickers in The Big Sleep by a mile) but here she's terrific.
    Above all, there is that sense of optimism that comes of having a basically forgiving view of human nature that is common to Warners noir and Hemingway both, and so lacking in present day veriations on the theme.
    I hadn't seeen this one in a while: thanks for making me watch it again.

  6. I like this movie even more than I remembered.

    I so enjoy Bogart's Morgan, matter-of-factly self-assured, whether he's dealing with an irksome client of risking a midnight gun-battle with police. Of course, I love Morgan from the start because of the care he extends to Eddie, from keeping him on as crew to monitoring the amount of alcohol he consumes. Walter Brennan is wonderful -- Eddie is such a sweet character, so devoted to Harry, childlike in both his fears and his desire to do a good job for the friend he counts on. He makes the "old rummy" sympathetic; makes Harry's choice to take care of an aging, increasingly addicted, comrade make sense. I think my favorite moment with Eddie is on the run to meet de Bursac, when he realizes that Harry's cruelty to him at the harbor had been an attempt to keep him safe. The way his face lights up with that relief and joy, the happiness that goes all through him, in spite of the danger he fears.

    I liked Bacall's "Slim" more than I remember, too. She seems to be plenty self-assured, as well, and it seems to come from knowing what she can take. Morgan's remarks about being able to make some guesses about her "story" based on her stoic reaction to the lieutenant's slap give a hint, but it is believing that she can no longer be hurt by the way the world -- or a man -- treats her, that she can survive on her own, that gives her that controlled cool. I think the only time we see her not so controlled is when she realizes that it does matter to her whether "Steve" cares for her, when she discovers how disappointed she is when she thinks he doesn't.

    I got such a kick out of the half-drunk bottle of wine as the vehicle that gets them back and forth across that tiny hallway, the excuse for all those conversations. But I truly liked watching them come to care for each other, recognizing the disillusionment they had in common, discovering each other's inherent integrity and compassion.

    But who could not warm to sultry "Slim" when she engaged Eddie in his dead bee repartee, delighting him with both her attention and her answers? I loved the way she let her inclusion into their tiny circle be championed by Eddie, rather than expecting Morgan to simply overrule him. And I loved how she did it again at the end, replaying the conversation (in reverse), helping Eddie bring her into focus as Harry's friend, that he would now, quite happily, be "taking care of" also.


  7. Continued:

    I really liked seeing Morgan shift so naturally in his priorities, from remaining uninvolved, to assisting the freedom fighters only because he needed money, to being willing to put himself in danger repeatedly, for their sake -- not because he adopted their cause or admired their heroes, but because it meant so terribly much to people he had come to care for.

    And the same for "Slim" really -- she was dead set against "Steve" doing the initial job because she did not want him in danger, but the battle, once entered, was hers as well, and she risked arrest with him at each step that made them more and more involved with the Resistance.

    The jealousy bits over the lovely Mme. de Bursac were were almost funny -- a final lesson for Slim about the man she'd fallen for. He recognized both the beauty and the allure of the agent's wife, but he had no interest in responding to it. Same for the provocations from Slim -- his unconcern more reassuring than protest or apology would have been.

    And of course the brief musical interludes with Hoagy Carmichael were great fun, brief as they were. I am glad, though, they didn't do full numbers with Slim singing -- Bacall's voice was interesting, and I enjoyed the samples woven into the story, but I don't think I would have liked more than what we got.

    Something I've been wondering about... There was a scene early on when Morgan is talking to Slim about what is going on politically in Martinique. I thought it was very interesting that, although he asks her "You know about Vichy," etc, he doesn't provide her explanations, but chuckles lightly at her ignorance. No one in the audience needed much about the Nazi's' explained by that time -- was it, along with the Naval decree about off-limit waters, and the weaselly agent who had scurried after Morgan and Johnson to record their offending remarks, a reminder of what we were fighting? Or was it simply to clarify the local situation, or to show how out of touch with home Slim had been?

    Overall, I am well pleased with this selection. If I do say so myself. :)

  8. Well, you two are doing yeoman work on this movie. I'm with Matt on the opening scenes. I just loved that Bogart character, especially in how he just handled things, like the quick answer to the Frenchmen snooting around and asking questions. Gets to the point, moves on, enough said. Okay ladies, if you are wondering what it is that is appealing about that, all I can say is that there is a beauty to that kind of open, confident, directness that men have a natural appreciation for. I don't know why.

    Then, when he is looking over the room and watching Johnson make a new friend, it looks at first like he is eyeing the young friend, but it is more in an appreciative and calculating way. He doesn't begrudge her making her move on Johnson. Heck, he doesn't even like Johnson. But he's going to watch out for his investment. And up in the room it was apparent to all parties that he wasn't going to be deterred by the fact that the sharp was a woman. But after she hands over the wallet, the way he goes about negotiating the next play of events, like a business proposition - it was so fun! You just liked 'em. Both of 'em.

    I had read too that Huston had said it was Hemingway's worst work - well, if so the screen play must have made a big improvement. I thought the dialogue was sharp and keenly interesting, and the manner in which the characters were fleshed out was great as well. Very good stuff!

    Well, since I have you both here perhaps I can interest you in watching my all time favorite film noir? It stars Robert Mitchum, and a young Kirk Douglas who was just dynamite. I loved the calculations, the veiled threats said with a smile, the dark, menacing danger that was just a little ways away from this king pin and his hired man, and of course - the woman! Now that's where the real danger may lay. C'mon, you know you want to see ...

    'Out Of The Past'

  9. Oh yes! Excellent. Never seen it; always meant to.
    I've ordered a copy and it should be in my hands in a few days.