Sunday, July 10, 2011
TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT (1944)
I really enjoyed posting two straight weeks of blogs on Hollywood films from the 1930's, and so for the 1940's I'm going to up the ante and try for three weeks worth. Looking at titles I have left from the 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die book, this shouldn't be a problem. As before, I’ll list my expectations for each film going in and state whether these expectations are reached or not. And I’ll once again give each film my Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award because there was such a bounty of great supporting performers from this period and I just like doing it.
To Have and Have Not (1944)
Expectations: I know I've had several viewings of the scene where Lauren Bacall says “You know how to whistle don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.”
After Viewing: I honestly thought I had seen this one before, but it quickly became evident that I had not. I guess I had just seen clips of the “you know how to whistle” scene enough times to make me think I had. The movie has a lot going for it including Lauren Bacall’s screen debut, William Faulkner's screenplay, Ernest Hemingway's original story and ace director Howard Hawks. Overall, the movie feels a little like warmed over Casablanca to me: exotic locations, Bacall taking Ingrid’s Bergman’s romantic love interest role, quirky supporting characters, the neutral Humphrey Bogart eventually falling down on the right side of the fight, there’s even a piano player,-Hoagy Carmichael, who performs the memorable song “Hong Kong Blues,” Not that those similarities are necessarily a bad thing.
But the main draw here is Humphrey Bogart. Woody Allen could have easily gotten his inspiration for Play It Again, Sam from this movie. Who wouldn’t want to emulate someone that cool and unflappable? I just wish I could call a woman that gets out of line a “screwy dame” without sounding silly.
And the Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award goes to…Walter Brennan. The Elisha Cook Jr. award probably should be called the Walter Brennan award, as he was probably the definitive supporting actor of this period. He was also one of those fortunate character actors who looked sixty when he was in his thirties and was able to thrive in supporting roles for decades.
“Was you ever bit by a dead bee?”
And no, I will not discuss the “naked pictures of Walter Brennan” scene from Good Morning, Vietnam.