Saturday, February 25, 2017

In Honor Of The 75th Anniversary Of The Film “Casablanca”- You Know How To Whistle, Don’t You?”-Lauren Bacall And Humphrey Bogart’s To Have And Have Not

***“You Know How To Whistle, Don’t You?”-Lauren Bacall And Humphrey Bogart’s To Have And Have Not

DVD Review

From The Pen Of Frank Jackman

To Have And Have Not, starring Lauren Bacall, Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Hoagy Carmichael, directed by Howard Hawks, screenplay by William Faulkner, based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway, 1944

The recent passing away of the actress Lauren Bacall (Summer, 2014) got me to thinking about watching (again) her very first movie with her paramour met on the film then, Humphrey Bogart, the now classic To Have and Have Not. And so I did and reminded myself how that film has always been at the top of my list for the greatest films that I have seen. And why not. Look at the pedigree. Based on a novel by Ernest Hemingway (although in the end quite loosely for I do not believe a fox like Marie, the role Ms. Bacall plays in the film, would have stayed in the same room as the novel’s Captain Morgan for a minute). Based on a screenplay at least in part written by William Faulkner who had a feel for such dialogue. Some musical interludes played by the great popular composer (Stardust, How Little We Know), Hoagy Carmichael, as the worldly piano player, Cricket, at the bar of the hotel where Marie and Captain Morgan (Steve before long, before she gets her hooks into him) play out their dance. A very good performance by Walter Brennan as a drunk who thinks he is watching out for the good captain. Directed by well-regarded Howard Hawks. But all of that is so much eye-wash what makes this film great is the chemistry between Marie and Steve. Chemistry I have mentioned elsewhere producing some of the sexiest scenes that two people can make with their clothes on. (Nudity would detract enormously from this mating ritual. Beside, unlike in pre-code 1930s Hollywood, no such thing would occur before the screen. Christ they were afraid to show assumed nudity scenes behind a shower curtain and gave married couples twin beds. Jesus.)              

Even the plotline pales before the dance these two put on. Frankly some of the story seems a bit of a rehash of the earlier Bogart vehicle (with Ingrid Bergman), Casablanca, where a recalcitrant Rick, owner of Rick’s American Café and recovering from a lost love affair gets involved with the Free French (the good guy against the damn Vichy) as well. Here day sports fishing boat Captain Morgan walks into the same thing except in Martinique rather than Morocco. But not before shedding his doubts about taking such risks, and of course when Marie enters the scene by coyly asking him for a match for her cigarette you know those fears will fall by the wayside. (By the way it seems that they, everybody from the breakfast table to the smoke-filled night clubs are lighting cigarettes every two seconds reminding me of how much smoking when on then in the movies, and in life including mine.)

See Steve (Captain Morgan to you guys who don’t know him) is strictly  hand to mouth on this day fishing trip business.  Right when they meet he has no dough having been stiffed by some goof fisherman (and a guy Marie clipped a wallet from which started the official dance between them). Once Marie tells her story though and how she hold up when the chips are down (at the police station where they are questioned by the local gestapo-types and she is slapped and later when she performs nurse duties without flinching) gets to him in the end. Naturally once Steve moves off the dime he is totally committed to seeing that some reckless resistance fighter who got nicked the first time he tried gets to finish the job he was sent to that outpost to do (getting a chief resistance man off Devils’ Island no mean task). Like I say all that is window-dressing for the moves Marie and Steve put on each other from that first tossed matchbook to the ‘you know how to whistles scene” to her seductively singing with Cricket to that shimmy she puts on as they walk out the door of the bar (Eddie trailing behind) off to see what the future brings-together. Thanks Bogie-Thanks Lauren-RIP        

No comments:

Post a Comment