0178: To Have and Have Not (1944)

To Have and Have Not

Rating: 9/10

It’s interesting watching a movie like this. For one thing, it’s very old, and there’s something about viewing it if only because there’s prejudice against a movie this aged. Movies from this period fell heavily into cliche, you’ve seen one noir/western/war movie, you’ve seen them all. It’s really surprising seeing something like this. Something that’s so much better than all those cliche-ridden, same-as-any-other films that it really makes you kick yourself for having such prejudices to begin with. This was a movie that stands out, not only from movies in its own time period, but from even the movies since then and up to today.

As a fun fact, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall met on this movie, fell in love and got married soon after. It’s apparent since their on screen chemistry is through the roof on this one. Especially in the “You know how to whistle” scene, probably the most famous scene from this movie.

Harry Morgan, Bogart’s character, is a badass, though not one that needs to shoot a gun or blow up a building and walk away without looking at it, like you see forced into a movie of today just to prove the character they’re showing is tough. Instead Harry Morgan is one who can simply sit, smile, and say a few words and still he has won the day. Despite this, you still get to see Harry use a gun a few times, though that isn’t what’s memorable about his character.

The dialogue in the movie is very good. It stands out in that it is creative, interesting, sometimes funny, and is as just as exciting to listen to as it is watching Morgan fire at Fascists from his boat. Some movies of today forget that you don’t always need an explosion to make a scene exciting, this movie can do it with just its dialogue. The scenes in this movie are just as encapsulating from the conversations as these action scenes are from the endless explosions, mostly more interesting too.

The genre in this movie is hard to peg down, and I mean that in a good way. It’s much like Casablanca where it mixes genres so much it makes something entirely of its own design. There are elements of the popular genres of the time: noire, drama, war movie, romance, and it’s all those things and yet none of those. It makes for something that’s almost entirely unique, though it does remind me of Casablanca, and you might consider it as a sort of unofficial sequel.

I’ve taken a point off because there was a lot of music in this, not enough I’d call it a musical, but there was enough singing from the bar’s resident piano player that I kept feeling it had to be leading somewhere. It didn’t, and that means it was pointless, and we all know how I feel about pointless scenes…

Why you should watch it before you die: This movie was made on a bet by Humphrey Bogart to the director, Howard Hawkes that he couldn’t make a good movie out of Ernest Hemingway’s worst novel. Well, he did, and it’s not only a good movie but it was a big hit for it’s time and has a story that had almost nothing to do with the original source material. Here’s a story that’s not just a bet well won but is a film that is wholly original and definitely worth watching. And maybe I’m starting to sound like one of those people who keep saying things aren’t as good as they used to be, but this movie is better than the movies of today and stands out amongst all films.

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