Friday, December 4, 2009

To Have and Have Not

Day 338 - 12/4/09 - Movie #338

BEFORE: It's December, and you'd think I'd be watching holiday movies or light comedy films - but instead I'm wrapping up my political films and starting a chain of films about World War II. Then I'll move on to films about spies and secret agents. Would you believe me if I said that I've got a way to (eventually) connect to some Christmas films? Just trust me, I'll get there...

Tonight I move from Cuba to Martinique, and from 1962 to 1940 for this Bogart/Bacall WWII film.

THE PLOT: Harry Morgan and his alcoholic sidekick, Eddie, are based on the island of Martinique and crew a boat available for hire. However, since the second world war is happening around them business is not what it could be.

AFTER: My dislike for Humphrey Bore-gart continues. Though he does manage to smile a few times in this film, and the romantic tension between him and Bacall is icy-hot, I still don't understand how a man with so little emotional expression became regarded as a fine actor.

Walter Brennan, most famous for playing old, drunk cowboys, goes outside his comfort zone in this film and plays an old, drunk sailor. Bit of a stretch. Lauren Bacall (last seen by me in "My Fellow Americans"), much like Bogart, maintains one facial expression for the entire film - but at least it's a smoldering one. She sings a couple numbers with the Hoagy Carmichael Band (nice get for a little Caribbean club!) and her voice seems to come from another dimension - it's beyond sultry and smoky, there's just something odd about it. Those of us who watch American Idol regularly would call it "affected", at best. She sort of reminds me of Kathleen Turner - it's a rare woman who can sing in the baritone range...

The similarities to "Casablanca" are quite noticeable - a nightclub during WWII, a smokin' dame, and Dan Seymour, playing sort of a combination of Sydney Greenstreet and Claude Rains's characters from that other Bogart film...

This film is probably most famous for Bacall's "You know how to whistle, don't you?" line - which was probably scandalous at the time. But I never really understood it. Without getting vulgar, what's so sexy about saying "You just put your lips together...and blow"? I mean, yeah, it's got the words "lips" and "blow" in it...heh heh...but on a practical level, it just doesn't make sense. These days, we hear things ten times more suggestive on sit-coms. Bacall's line is just begging to be followed by a "That's what SHE said!"

The film ends rather abruptly - we see Capt. Morgan (Bogart) aid the French resistance by picking up a couple of passengers, but there's a larger mission to rescue someone from Devil's Island, and that we never get to see. What happened, did the camera run out of film or something? Or did the studio run out of money? Actually the film doesn't really end, it just sort of...stops. "To have not" a plot resolution, I guess...

RATING: 4 out of 10 searchlights

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