The legendary team of Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall costarred for the first time in Howard Hawks' TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944), now available on Blu-ray from the Warner Archive.
As a very young film fan my first loves were musicals and romantic comedies, especially those starring Cary Grant. TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944), along with THE BIG SLEEP (1946), is one of the films which was key to expanding my horizons and leading me to become interested in a wider variety of classic movies. In my mind's eye I can still see myself watching the film for the first time at my grandmother's house, completely entranced by Bogart and Bacall's sizzling chemistry.
The movie is supposedly based on a novel by Ernest Hemingway, though apparently they don't have much in common but the title. In this "WWII on the Warner Bros. lot" film, Bogart plays Harry Morgan, captain of a fishing boat based in Martinique.
Morgan has various problems, such as his American fishing client (Walter Sande) attempting to skip out without paying his bill, or the French Vichy types (including Dan Seymour and Sheldon Leonard) who harass the locals while hunting for Resistance fighters (including Marcel Dalio).
Morgan has it made, however, when it comes to Marie (Bacall), the new gal in town, and soon they are flirting, fighting, and kissing whenever Morgan's not busy keeping tabs on his alcoholic friend (Walter Brennan) or helping a Resistance leader (Walter Szurovy) and his wife (Dolores Moran).
While RIO BRAVO has Dean Martin and Ricky Nelson, TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT has the great Hoagy Carmichael performing several of his tunes, including "How Little We Know," with Bacall occasionally singing along. (Despite the long-running rumors that she was dubbed by Andy Williams, it's apparently actually Bacall singing; it sounds like her.) A couple of non-Carmichael songs such as "Am I Blue?" are also heard, and for good measure the movie also has some memorable opening credits music by Franz Waxman.
It's also a bit poignant having heard stories in recent years that the reason behind the 19-year-old Bacall's famous "look," chin down and looking up or to the side, was because she was so nervous she was working to keep her head from shaking. From such unexpected things stars are born.
TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT was filmed by Sid Hickox. While the movie was made entirely on soundstages or the backlot, that's part of the movie's charm. It has a great Warner Bros. visual style, particularly in the scenes where Carmichael and Bacall perform.
The extras from the original TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT DVD release are included on the Blu-ray, including a Lux Radio Theatre broadcast with Bogart and Bacall, a documentary, a cartoon, and the trailer. The Blu-ray is an excellent print.
Previous reviews of Bogart & Bacall Blu-rays from the Warner Archive: THE BIG SLEEP (1946) and KEY LARGO (1948). Still to come at a future date: A review of the Warner Archive release of DARK PASSAGE (1947) on Blu-ray.
Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the WBShop.