To Have and Have Not
You know how to whistle, don’t you? By the time a 19-year-old Lauren Bacall wiggles over to Humphrey Bogart at the jaunty close to their 1944 debut pairing, you will. Manly director Howard Hawks shoots manly writers Jules Furthman and William Faulkner’s adaptation of manly novelist Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not and, boy-o, is it a mess. Loner boatman Steve (Bogart) and his drunky pal Eddie (Walter Brennen) take post-WWII Martinique tourists on fishing trips, and during one Steve snares luckless cutie Marie (Bacall), aka Slim, trying to con a wealthy customer. And before you can say, “Just put your lips together and blow,” Steve and Slim are trading million-dollar zingers—“I’m hard to get, Steve. All you have to do is ask me.”—and trying not to jump each other’s bones. Thank g-d: The script is a 99-cent Casablanca, with for-hire tough Steve becoming a reluctant hero when he helps the French resistance. Kudos go to Hoagy Carmichael’s piano-playing Cricket and, as always, to Brennan for turning sidekick cliché into Lee Strasbergian art, but mainly this outing is all about the exothermic Bogart and Bacall chemistry, a cast/crew warmup for 1946’s classic The Big Sleep.