To Have and Have Not was made just two years after Bogart's greatest movie, Casablanca, and there are strong resemblances between the two films.
As in Casablanca, we find Bogart playing a character named Steve (his real name's Harry, but that's another story) who is just trying to run his business - he's a charter fisherman pandering to wealthy businessmen - and attempting to stay out of the war which has divided the world.
Although the original Hemingway novel was set in Cuba, the film is set in Martinique. And the French Resistance is active there. Slowly but inexorably, Harry is inveigled and cajoled into taking his part in the war against tyranny.
The drama is pretty threadbare. What the film is most notable for is that it marked the screen debut of teenager Lauren Bacall. She became Bogie's love-interest on and off the screen, in a tempestuous affair which just about melted the celluloid. There are scenes when you know that what they're hinting at is exactly what they'll be doing a little bit later, when the camera stops rolling. It's heavy stuff.
Bacall couldn't act. But she could sure smoulder well. Hers was a sultry, seductive smoulder which still sizzles today. And she could certainly deliver a double-meaning with sexy allure - as witness this immortal pick-up line:
|"You know how to whsitle, don't you Steve?
YOU JUST PUT YOUR LIPS TOGETHER AND BLOW."|
The film has its drawbacks, most notably Walter Brennan's character Ernie, a DT-ridden drunk who is Bogie's best pal. He does his best to destroy the movie, but Bogart and Bacall keep pulling it back from the brink.
However, besides the screen chemistry of Bogie and Bacall, there's another special ingredient which makes this movie memorable. There's a cafe in which must of the action takes place. Where Sam played at Rick's in Casablanca, this cafe features America's songwriting legend Hoagy Carmichael, creator of Stardust. While Sam only pretended to play the piano, this is the real thing - and we get plenty of opportunity to enjoy his laconic, laid-back style.
One thing however isn't real. At one stage Lauren's character Slim duets with Hoagy. And later, she takes centre-stage for a solo. But in real life, Bacall couldn't sing.
Her sultry couldn't hold a tune. Warner searched around for a voice-double - and found the very young Andy Williams, whose prepubescent voice had just the husky timbre Bacall needed. But this is irrelevant. On screen she looks and sounds great. It's a pity she couldn't act, but the role doesn't really call for acting - just for outright seductiveness. The same was true in her later more famous movie The Big Sleep; Bacall was truly great as long as she didn't really have to do anything.
To Have and Have Not isn't anywhere near the greatest Bogie movie. But the pairing of him with Bacall, and the appearance of Hoagy Carmichael, makes it an indispensable part of the Bogart legend.
This is not the most brilliant transfer, but it's quite acceptable for a 60-year-old movie. It's on a par with The Maltese Falcon in terms of overall quality, but below the overall transfer quality of the two earlier movies in this collection.
Tonal values are fair, with good but not outstanding clarity, and with the print just falling short of the absolute best shadow and contrast subtleties. There's a fair bit of grain, but not enough to really disturb.
There are enough artefacts to suggest that more extensive restoration of the source material might have to be undertaken eventually. But it is, overall, a pretty decent viewing experience.