Review: To Have and Have Not (1944)

boggartbacall

The classic real life couple together for the first time on the big screen!

Screenplay By: William Faulkner & Jules Furthman
Directed By: Howard Hawks

There are some movies that can get by on pure slickness and the chemistry between the leads. To Have and Have Not is such a movie. The plot is razor thin, the story isn’t all that interesting, and outside of a good comedic, and somewhat depressing, turn by Walter Brennan as the drunk Eddie, there isn’t anything in To Have and Have Not that catches the eye or provides a fulfilling watch. Enter Humphrey Bogart as Steve and Lauren Bacall as Slim. Humphrey Bogart is, well, Humphrey Bogart and he can carry even the worst of movies by himself with his pure personality. Miss Bacall was fresh on the scene, To Have and Have Not was her first acting gig, and while raw she provides the right type of animal attraction to Mr. Bogart’s heavy lead. The scenery around them is slick, the movie moves at a fast pace and the dialogue is even slicker than the scenery. To Have and Have Not is good because of that slickness and the chemistry between Mr. Bogart and Miss Bacall.

There aren’t many negatives about To Have and Have Not, even without Mr. Bogart and Miss Bacall it isn’t a bad picture. It’s just not a good one, it is serviceable in every regard. The majority of the characters are caricatures, there’s no depth to the story, the action isn’t really action, etc.. I could go one about how ordinary of a film To Have and Have Not is, but that would sell its good qualities short. Mr. Bogart and Miss Bacall instantly click, even if it doesn’t seem that they should. It’s no surprise they fell in love and ended up married in real life until Mr. Bogart’s unfortunate death. They have that type of chemistry, the type that transcends the film and causes you to forget that you are even watching a film. Their chemistry drives the film and makes it worthwhile.

To Have and Have Not is worth a look for more Humphrey Bogart goodness, Lauren Bacall’s debut, and some great on-screen chemistry between the soon to be off-screen couple. It’s also a good entry into the catalog of Howard Hawks. To Have and Have Not isn’t high drama, it isn’t even the best of pictures, but if you are interested in seeing Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall together for the first time then it’s certainly worth a look.

Rating:

***

Cheers,
Bill Thompson

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