Humphrey and Lauren’s First Time: To Have and Have Not (1944)
I spent about two hours in the company of Bogart and Bacall.
To have and Have Not in Italian was called Acque del Sud (Southern Waters), and it was one of those movies that once were a staple of afternoon programming, before TV stations discovered the joys of reality and talent shows.
Of course, To have and Have Not is Faulkner adapting Hemingway (that’s TWO Nobel-prize winners for the price of one), and Howard Hawks directing.
You can’t get any better than that.The plot is thin – and there’s not much of the original stories by Hemingway in it – but there are a number of elements that make this one of my favorite movies.
First, of course, there’s the stars – Bogart and Bacall are doing their first film together, and the chemistry is obvious. Notoriously, this is where the spark started. Bogart was 45 and Bacall was 19,and playing a 22 years-old1.
Second, there’s the black and white photography. I heard a lot of younger people recently complaining about being unable to “get into” black and white movies. I still believe its a stupid affectation. How can someone not be amazed at the texture and quality of the photography in a movie like this.
Third, the jazz numbers, including those in which Lauren Bacall did her own singing (there’s a rumor she was dubbed – by Andy Williams no less – but it’s bogus). And that guy at the piano is actually Hoagy Carmichael, a great composer, musician and a giant of jazz – about half the songs on the movie were his. According to IMDB, the song list includes:
How Little We Know
Am I Blue?
Hong Kong Blues
The Rhumba Jumps
The Flower Song
Then there’s the plot – moved from Cuba to Martinique to please the war-time administration, and strikingly reminiscent of Casablanca.
And yes, I have an interest in guys with boats acting mercenary on the seas.
And you can’t beat Humphrey Bogart.
Oh, and just so that nobody will think I didn’t notice: Dolores Moran, the second leading lady in this piece, is absolutely fabulous.
But she’s still no match for Lauren Bacall.