To Have and Have Not
1 hr. 40 mins Adventure, Film Noir, Romance 1944 7.8 stars
Director: Howard Hawks
Cast: Humphrey Bogart - Harry Morgan
Lauren Bacall - Marie “Slim” Browning
Walter Brennan - Eddie
Delores Moran - Mme. Hellene de Bursac
Hoagy Carmichael - Cricket
Sheldon Leonard - Lt. Coyo
Walter Szurovy - Paul de Bursac (as Walter Molar)
Marcel Dalio - Gerard aka Frenchy
Walter Sande - Johnson
Dan Seymour - Capt. M. Renard
Note: Spoiler alert. This review reveals the outcome of the movie
From the beginning the movie shows us the subtle growth of the control of the Vichy government. On the island of Martinique Harry Morgan (played by Humphrey Bogart) was running a deep sea fishing operation. On this day when he went to register his plans for the day’s fishing trip he was told about several new restrictions that were being placed upon him and others like him as the government was tightening control. The Vichy government were not the good guys, but they were in control of this French outpost.
Harry obtains a permit for his day excursion and takes his customer, known only as Johnson (played by Walter Sande) along. Harry is joined by his friend, Eddie (played by Walter Brennan) who is a drunk which they call a ‘rummy’ in the movie.
The fishing trip went badly; Johnson wasn’t able to catch any significant fish and he lost a rod and reel in the process. Harry confronted him about his need to charge for his equipment on top of the charge for the boat. Johnson agreed to get his money to him after the banks open midmorning the next day.
The owner of the hotel where Harry lived – above a night club, Gerard aka Frenchy (played by Marcel Dalio) approached Harry to ask a favor of him. Frenchy was involved in the French resistance movement and several of his compatriots wanted to hire Harry and his boat for a mission. Harry refused them outright, saying that he was a respectable businessman and didn’t want to get mixed up in any illegal activity. Soon after Frenchy left, Harry’s neighbor from across the hall, Marie ‘Slim’ Browning (played by Lauren Bacall), showed up looking for a light. There was instant chemistry. Evidently Slim was a good pickpocket and she obtained Johnson’s wallet to give to Harry. Harry looked into the wallet and saw that he had more than enough travelers’ checks to pay what was owed him and he also noticed that Johnson had an airline ticket for early in the morning, long before the banks opened. Obviously, he was planning to skip out on Harry. Harry returned the wallet to Johnson and confronted him about the debt and the ticket. Caught, Johnson agreed to sign a check for what he owed, but just at that very moment gunfire erupted and Johnson was hit and killed.
The gunfire was due to a raid; Frenchy’s freedom fighter friends had been discovered and they were attacked. Some of them got away; Johnson who was an innocent bystander did not. When the police, led by Captain Renard (played by Dan Seymour), came to question the people about what happened they chose to question only a few people, Harry and Slim being in that number. Although neither told the police anything – there was little to tell – Harry was upset by the way they treated Slim, namely that they had slapped her.
After this interrogation he agreed to help Frenchy’s friends and went to their hideout. His mission would simply be to ferry two of their agents over from another island. He would go at night so as not to be caught.
Harry then got paid up front and used some of that money to buy an airplane ticket for Slim so that she could return home to America.
That night Harry set out on the mission, but found a stowaway, Eddie who thought they were going out for a good time. Despite the danger everything went smoothly on the outbound trip; they picked up Monsieur de Bursac (played by Walter Szurovy aka Walter Molnar) and his wife, Madame de Bursac (played by Dolores Moran). Harry was taken aback to learn that the agent was bringing his wife along the mission. Trouble met them on their return trip when they ran into a patrol boat. Rather than yield to them Harry shot out their search lights, but they shot back and wounded Monsieur de Bursac. Harry sped away and delivered his passengers to the resistance fighters.
When Harry returned from the mission he discovered that Slim had not departed for home, but stayed and took a job at the club as a singer working for the piano player, Cricket (played by Hoagy Carmichael).
Frenchy approached Harry again to inform him that Monsieur de Bursac, who had been wounded back on the boat, was now in the basement of the club, sick with a fever. Frenchy wanted Harry to remove the bullet. It was too dangerous to involve a doctor; they were all being watched.
But Madame de Bursac strongly objected to Harry playing the surgeon at one point even slapping him. He tried to assuage her fears by explaining that he had done this sort of thing many times before. It took a lot of convincing, but she finally acquiesced. She was given the job of administering chloroform, but she fainted. Harry carried her to another room until she awakened. Harry was successful at removing the bullet; de Brusac would make a full recovery. When she awoke Madame de Brusac apologized for overreacting and slapping Harry. He forgave her, but Slim was jealous. In the meantime Renard found Eddie and began pumping him for information by plying him with alcohol, but Eddie didn’t talk. Harry arrived and Renard offered him a lot money for information about the whereabouts of de Bursac, but Harry didn’t say a word either.
Later, Renard picked up Eddie again. This time in order to make him talk he deprived him of alcohol. Renard then went up to Harry’s room to inform him that he had Eddie. While they were negotiating Harry shot one of Renard’s henchmen with a revolver that had been stashed in his desk drawer. He then had Slim disarm the others and tie them up - Renard included. Harry had Renard call to his guards and ordered them to release Eddie which happened.
Once Eddie was safely returned, Harry and Slim took Eddie and departed for good on Harry’s boat presumably never to return.
Madame de Bursac apologizing to Harry Morgan
To review this movie as I am doing just after reviewing Casablanca I must start off by mentioning the many similarities between the two stories. They share the same leading actor, Humphrey Bogart and he again starts the story as an expat American who maintains a stance of neutrality though he is implored by French resistance fighters to join their cause at great personal risk and expense. And once again he lives above a bar, which has a piano player belting out tunes throughout the movie. As to other actors from Casablanca, there’s Marcel Dalio who plays Frenchy; he was Emil the croupier in Casablanca and there’s Dan Seymour who plays Captain Renard; he was Abdul the bouncer in Casablanca. Police chief ‘Renard’, by the way is a name reminiscent of Casablanca’s Prefect of Police, ‘Renault’. In many other aspects, however, it is a different story.
Bogart’s character of Harry Morgan is a businessman piloting a fishing vessel in Martinique. It ought to be more lucrative than it seems to be for him.
Harry has a friend named Eddie who is a drunk, but Eddie sticks by Harry through thick and then all because Harry keeps him supplied with liquor. Although Harry has a fondness for Eddie he would often rather that he wouldn’t be around. Eddie ends up being more of an anchor to Harry than a ship mate. In several instances Eddie is Harry’s Achilles heel. The authorities use the capture of Eddie to try to force Harry to divulge information about the presence of resistance fighters.
Harry’s love interest is “Slim” a nickname he gives Marie when they first meet. She says she doesn’t like that name, but she accepts it without further comment throughout the rest of the movie. No reason is given in the movie, but from the moment Slim meets Harry she calls him “Steve”. He never objects to that name, but it does have the potential to confuse the audience. The reason for this play of nicknames comes from the director, Howard Hawks and his wife who used those nicknames for each other in real life.
Slim finds herself growing jealous over the attention Harry pays to Madame de Bursac as he is trying to help her cope with the fact that her husband has been wounded. Harry performs simple impromptu surgery to remove a bullet from Monsieur de Bursac much to the protest of Madame because Harry seems inexperienced to her and she doesn’t trust him. She fails to take into account that Harry has a surgical bag in his possession including chloroform. We are not told why, but it indicates that he has done this sort of thing before, probably many times. Madame de Brusac passes out just at the beginning of the surgery and is unable to stop it. The surgery is successful; the bullet removed. When Madame de Brusac awakens she is grateful that Harry has saved her husband and ashamed of herself that she ever doubted him in the first place. We sense a little romantic chemistry between them, but it’s impractical as she is a happily married woman. Slim, however, notices this chemistry and she becomes jealous. Nothing ever comes of the chemistry we see. In previous versions of the story there is much more chemistry between Madame de Bursac and Harry, but it had been cut out, so what we do see are merely the vestiges of the previous scripts. I see this as a weakness in the story and it seems like sloppy editing on the writers’ part.
Monsieur de Brusac appears to be a weak man. He is not the hero type and it seems baffling that he is considered to be the key man of this French resistance operation. It is also odd that his wife has come along to be a part of this mission, because as we have seen she doesn’t possess the constitution to be involved in such a thing. This again is a weakness in the story.
Harry stays a while after the bullet is removed, but apart from that he does not become any further involved in the resistance fighters’ cause. His cause is to depart from that island to return to America and he wants to take Slim with him. Eddie, of course will join them as they sail away; after all Eddie is Harry’s shadow. Eddie walks with a noticeable limp, something Walter Brennan perfected. He is an odd character who comes across as a sympathetic simpleton who likes alcohol and shuns water. He approaches other people with his own sort of litmus test, namely he asks everyone about being stung by a dead bee. The answers he gets help him to determine if they are trustworthy or not. Slim for instance gives all the right responses so she’s OK in his book.
Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart met while working on this movie, it was Bacall’s first. Herein is a difference between this movie and Casablanca. In the previous movie a romance had been written into the script, but Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman did not develop any sort of friendship off the set. In this movie a romance was written into the script, but off the set a real romance was in their destiny. Shortly after this movie was shot Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall married and remained so until Bogart’s death in 1957.