To Have and Have Not: First Film (and Love) of Bogart and Bacall

Tribute to Lauren Bacall, who died last week at the age of 89

Bogart and Bacall

Bogart and Bacall

As a follow-up to “Casablanca” (1943), which garnered him his first Oscar nomination, Howard Hawks’ “To Have and Have Not” represents another crucial phase in the evolution of Humphrey Bogart’s screen image–especially his romantic persona.

Though vastly entertaining and popular with audiences, then and now, largely due to its star power, “To Have and Have Not” is not one of Bogart’ or Hawks’ best films.

The film is set in the exotic location of Fort-de-France, Martinique, under the Vichy regime in the summer of 1940, after the fall of France.

Though nominally based on the novel of the same name by Ernest Hemingway, the story was substantially altered for the screen in accordance with the stars” screen images and special attributes.

The dialogue, by Jules Furthman and novelist William Faulkner (based on Ernst Hemingway’s novel) is occasionally sharp, and some one-liners became famous after the film was released. It’s worth noting that Hemingway’s novel (one of his weakest) is set in Cuba and Florida circa 1930s.

to_have_and_have_not_5_bacall_bogartThe picture is best known for the first on screen teaming of Bogart and 19-year-old Lauren Bacall and off screen romance, which lead to their marriage a year later. Significantly, in the picture, Bogart and Bacall refer to each other as Steve and Slim, which are the nicknames of Hawks and his then wife.

Bacall makes a grand, sexy entrance, uttering the line, “Anybody got a match” And later, just before granting him the first kiss, she says: “You know, Steve, you’re not very hard to figure. Only at times. Sometimes I know exactly what you’re going to saymost of the time. The other times, the other times you’re just a stinker.” And before kissing him for the second time, she says, “It’s even better when you help,” a line similar to the one Angie Dickinson says after kissing John Wayne in “Rio Bravo.”

to_have_and_have_not_4_bacall_bogartBogart stars as Harry Morgan, a skipper-adventurer of a small fishing boat in a French territory of Martinique, attempting to remain neutral after the fall of France. He’s hired to smuggle a French underground leader and his wife into Martinique, and agrees reluctantly, because he needs the money (or so he says).

In “Casablanca,” Bogart’s Rick Blaine the caf owner parried Conrad Viedts question about his nationality by calling himself a drunkard, whereas here he calls himself an Eskimo. He declines to become involved in what he considers “local politics,” just as he managed to ignore the underground in Casablanca. When asked what are his sympathies, he just said, “Minding my own business.

More has been written about the picture as a typical Bogart vehicle, but in many significant ways, it’s a quintessential Hawksian work, with thematic links to his other films (the best of which starring John Wayne, such as “red River” and Rio Bravo”), centering on the tensions between broad political or personal-moral issues and their impact on identities and relationships.

to_have_and_have_not_3_bacall_bogartWarner tried to repeat the commercial success of “Casablanca,” and the movie did well at the box-office. In hindsight, the film reconfirmed Bogart’s image: He initially has a flippant attitude toward Bacall whom he casts away but is obviously attracted to, showing greater loyalty and affection to Walter Brennan, who plays Eddie.

Bogart’s displays his own brand of justice, meted out to transgressors who do not play the game according to his set of rules and code of ethics, which always favor the underdog, here in the shape of the underground leader and his wife.

Detailed  Plot

to_have_and_have_not_2_bacall_bogartWorld-weary fishing-boat captain Harry Morgan is urged to help the French Resistance smuggle people onto the island. He refuses, until the client, Johnson (Walter Sande), who has been hiring out his fishing boat (and owes him $825), is shot before paying him. The French police take him for intterogation, and they take his passport and money including what his Johnson had.

Gerard, the hotel owner known as Frenchy (Marcel Dalio), asks Harry to rent him his boat for one night to transport members of the resistance.  Harry, broke, smuggles Helene (Dolores Moran) and Paul de Bursac (Walter Surovy).

A romance develops between Harry and Marie (“Slim”) Browning, an American wanderer who has come to the island. She suspects that Harry changed his mind on smuggling the resistance to help her. Harry is surprised when Marie stays in Martinique to be with him.

During the mission, Harry is spotted by a patrol boat, and Paul is wounded. At Frenchy’s request, Harry removes the bullet from Bursac’s shoulder and learns that the Bursacs have been assigned to help a man escape from Devil’s Island. Bursac asks for Harry’s assistance, but Harry turns him down.

to_have_and_have_not_1_bacall_bogartThe police reveal that they have Harry’s alcoholic buddy, Eddie (Walter Brennan) and will coerce him to inform about the boat’s cargo. With Slim’s help, at gunpoint, Harry forces Police Captain Renard (Dan Seymour) to arrange for Eddie’s release and sign harbor passes, so that he can take the Bursacs to Devil’s Island. Eddie, Harry and Marie leave Martinique.

Lines to Remember

Bogart to Bacall, after she gets slapped by a Vichy henchman: “That slap in the face you took. Well, you hardly blinked an eye. It takes a lot of practice to be able to do that.”


Harry Morgan (Humphrey Bogart)
Eddie (Walter Brennan)
Marie Browning (Lauren Bacall)
Helene De Bursac (Dolores Moran)
Paul De Borsac (Walter Molnar)
Cricket (Hoagy Carmichael)
Lt. Coyo (Sheldon Leonard)
Gerard (Marcel Dalio)
Johnson (Walter Sandle)
Capt. M. Renard (Dan Seymour)


Produced by Howard Hawks
Directed by Howard Hawks
Screenplay: Jules Furthman and William Faulkner, based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway.
Camera: Sid Hickock.
Editor: Christian Nyby.
Music: Franz Waxman.
Art direction: Charles Novi
F/X: Roy Davidson
Costume: Milo Anderson