Sunday, October 3, 2010

Movie Sunday: To Have and Have Not

I guess it's natural for us not to fully appreciate the places where we grow up. This was certainly true when I was growing up in Little Rock, a city probably best known as the location of a fairly ugly episode in the history of school desegregation and civil rights. In those days, Little Rock was a small, relatively pretty, capital city in one of the poorest states in the nation. One of the more surprising jewels of the city was the Arkansas Arts Center, featuring a theater, sculpture garden, a nice gallery, and all sorts of studios for classes and artists in residence. I took numerous classes there, confirming to all that I have no artistic talent in any medium.

When I was in high school, the Arts Center used to show classic movies on Sunday nights. We would watch a Buck Rogers serial and then be treated to one of the best films of the black and white years, featuring a lot of people that our parents would never shut up about. A group of us went almost every Sunday, and gained a real appreciation for some of these old screen gems.

I hear the Arts Center has fallen on hard times, but I still watch a lot of movies. Since my friends are tired of hearing me talk about them, I thought maybe I would write about one a week. Some will be oldies. Some will be late models that make it to the top of my queue. Some will be just plain strange, I guarantee.  We will see how long I can keep it up.

I will kick it off with one of the first shows I remember seeing at the Arts Center, and one of my favorites, To Have and Have Not.

If you're not familiar with it, this was Lauren Bacall's first film, and she and Humphrey Bogart fell in love on the set, eventually ending his marriage. The chemistry between them is more than apparent. The story is loosely based on Hemingway's novel, but the story was changed extensively, early on with the help of Hemingway himself, and later by William Faulkner, among others.

Plot-wise, it's not that much different from a number of wartime romance dramas that were typical in the mid-1940's. But you won't be watching it for the plot. Watch it for Bogie and Bacall. Few of the movie stars were really very good actors back then, at least by today's standards, but this really didn't require much acting from the two of them.

To Have and Have Not also produced one of my favorite movie lines, in one of the most memorable scenes in early film history. Bacall tells Bogart to whistle if he needs anything, and then follows with, "You know how to whistle, don't you Steve? You just put your lips together, and ... blow."


  1. Lauren Bacall could melt celluloid with just a look...

  2. One of my all-time favorite movies. Good times, too. Bacall was so nervous, the only way she could cope was to keep her chin down and her voice low, resulting in "the" sultry legend she became. They named their kids after these His wife was a royal bitch no one in Hollywood liked so HB's affair was no surprise...

  3. Good choice, really good movie.

    I mean, it's no Laura, but it's a really good movie....

  4. daisyfae: True that. She's always been on my list.

    Wye: I remember. African Queen was maybe more romantic, but I don't think I've ever seen more heat in B&W.

    Brahm: Welcome! Good call on Laura. But for me, this one wasn't about the movie. They could have filmed 90 minutes of the two of them having lunch, and it probably would have been almost as good.