First off, I find it absolutely hilarious how obscenely large Bogey’s name is on that poster up there. It is so because To Have and Have Not was one of the first films to capitalize on Humphrey Bogart’s now-immortal role in Casablanca, and director Howard Hawks was definitely one to capitalize on the public’s interests. Cast opposite Bogart is newcomer Lauren Bacall, an ingénue to the movie industry, and if there was ever a poster child for the definition of star-making performance, Lauren Bacall’s turn in this film would certainly be in the running.
The film is especially interesting for the pair of romantic leads, Bogart and Bacall, who thanks to working together on this film would go on to couple in real life as well, and become one of Hollywood’s most popular star romances. Their chemistry is the prime vehicle for this film, and indeed parts of the film were reworked around the two once their on-screen sizzle became readily apparent. The film actually juggles two plots, the romantic plot and the main plot dealing with Bogey’s character shoehorned into smuggling some resistance members past border patrol on the island of Martinique. The two plots are mostly independent of each other, aside from taking place in the same film, and it is oddly amusing (though not to the film’s benefit) to watch for when the film switches between the two.
This film tries so hard to be the next Casablanca that it glares like a neon sign. The tough and rugged leading man played by Bogey, a dame for him to knowingly get in trouble for, a plot of international espionage, a piano playing shoulder to lean on, even the lead inspector name is similar (Renard here, Renault in the former). Obviously, the film doesn’t measure up to the standards of Casablanca, or it would be a lot more well known, but it is well known enough in many film circles, and indeed it is a good flick in its own right. Give it a shot and I think you’ll like it.
Arbitrary Rating: 7/10