To Have And Have Not review

To commemorate the centenary of Humphrey Bogart's birth, the BFI is re-releasing a new print of this 1944 Howard Hawks classic. Legend has it that the film arose because the director bet novelist Ernest Hemingway that he could make a movie out of his worst book.

Bogart plays Harry `Steve' Morgan, a cynical fishing-boat owner, who's holed up in Martinique during World War Two with trusty sidekick Eddie `The Rummy' (Walter Brennan). Reluctant to throw in his lot with either the Vichy government of the free French forces (there are obvious parallels here with Casablanca's Rick) Steve's life is transformed when a gorgeous woman (teen model Lauren Bacall in her screen debut) pitches up at his hotel, needing help to get off of the island.

Unfussily directed, To Have And Have Not is packed with memorable exchanges in shadowy interiors, and showcases the husky-voiced Bacall at her most insolent and alluring. The chemistry between the two leads, who became off-screen partners, is palpable, ensuring that this remains one of Hollywood's most enduring love stories. Pure romantic fantasy, and a fine film from one of cinema's greatest ever directors, it paved the way for the even better The Big Sleep.

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