To Have & Have Not (1944 – DVD)

“Drinking don’t bother my memory, if it did I wouldn’t drink, I couldn’t, you see, I’d forget how good it was, then where’d I be?”

I’m getting a taste for Humphrey Bogart films at the moment, with ‘Casablanca’ back on the big screen, ‘The Big Sleep’ just viewed and now I’m onto 1944’s ‘To Have & Have Not’.  It was released two years after Bogie’s triumph in ‘Casablanca’ and has all the hallmarks of an attempt to recapture that magic.  Once again our noble yet reluctant hero is torn between protecting his own well-being and helping out the Free-French cause (This time in the Vichy held port of Martinique).  Providing the atmospheric music, Nightclub piano player Dooley Wilson is switched to Hotel-Bar piano player Hoagy Carmichael.  ‘To Have & Have Not’s tone is a little more serious with Claude Rains’ jovial Vichy Captain Renault replaced with Dan Seymour’s more ruthless Police Captain Renard.

This time the female lead went to then newcomer Lauren Bacall, an inspired casting decision playing up the sizzling sexual chemistry between her and Bogie (On screen and off).  Bacall looks absolutely stunning throughout in figure-hugging Suits and takes nonchalant Cigarette smoking to almost fetishistic extremes. One last mention of Walter Brennan’s wonderful tragic-comic turn as Bogie’s Rum-soaked sidekick Eddie.  For a film clearly conceived as a cash-in, I’d say this just about matches ‘Casablanca’s exotic and romantic magic, no doubt down to the considerable skills of Director Howard Hawks.

Next in my Bogart-a-thon are two John Huston pictures 1941’s ‘The Maltese Falcon’ then 1951’s ‘The African Queen’.


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