To Have and Have Not (1944)

 

 

Director:     Howard Hawks. 

Starring:     Humphrey Bogart (Harry 'Steve' Morgan),  Walter Brennan (Eddie),  Lauren Bacall (Marie 'Slim' Browning),  Dolores Moran (Mme. Hellene de Bursac),  Hoagy Carmichael (Cricket),  Sheldon Leonard (Lt. Coyo),  Walter Szurovy (Paul de Bursac),  Marcel Dalio (Gerard (Frenchy)),  Walter Sande (Johnson, fishing customer),  Dan Seymour (Capt. M. Renard),  Aldo Nadi (Renard's bodyguard).

skipper becomes reluctantly involved with the French Resistance in Martinique

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

"Martinique in the summer of 1940 shortly after the fall of France." Fort de France.

Captain Harry "Steve" Morgan wants a permit to exit temporarily from the port.  His boat is named the Queen  Conch out of Key West, Florida.  Morgan says he has been going out fishing every day for over two weeks.  The official tells Morgan there is a new rule about not going anywhere near territorial waters, Sainte-Lucie or Dominique.  The order was issued yesterday by Admiral Robert, Governor General of the French West Indies. 

Morgan goes over to see his employee and buddy Eddie who is in a deep sleep on the dock.  The skipper gets some water and pours it over the man.  Horatio has brought some supplies and they need to store them away.  Their customer for fifteen days, Mr. Johnson, arrives and off they go.  They go fishing for sword fishing.  It becomes obvious that Eddie is a rummie.  Johnson is still not a very good fisherman and this time he loses the fish and the rod and reel.  Johnson takes it out on Eddie and Morgan has to intervene.  The skipper tells his client that he owes him for fifteen days of fishing.  Altogether Johnson owes him $275 dollars for the rod and reel, $500 dollars for the fifteen days and another $100 for today making $825 dollars.  Johnson says he doesn't have the money on him.  They will meet tomorrow around 11 a.m. to settle up. 

When the fellows get back to port, Morgan and Johnson head for their hotel.  Along the way they pass by signs of the German occupation of most of France.  In the south, the Germans under Hitler run that part of France, known as Vichy France, through French stooges who do the bidding of the Germans.  Johnson makes a slightly disparaging comment about the Vichy government.  He is overheard and the official stops the two men and takes their names down for the remark. 

In the hotel, the manager Frenchy approaches Morgan saying he has friends that want to rent his boat.  Morgan is not interested in his friends and their desires.  He goes up to his room.  He passes by a pretty, young woman.  He leaves the door open and the lady asks him:  "Anybody got a match?"  Morgan does.  She lights her cigarette with the matches Morgan throws to her.  She leaves.  Later Morgan goes downstairs and sees the young woman that Morgan refers to as Slim, drinking with Mr. Johnson.  She later sings a song with the piano player Cricket. 

Frenchy approaches Morgan again about his friends and Morgan makes it crystal clear that he doesn't want to get involved in local politics.  The skipper sees Slim leaving and chases after her.  He stops her and tells Slim that he wants Johnson's wallet.  Slim says that she needs boat fare to get out of Martinique.  Looking through the wallet, Morgan realizes that the man has enough in traveler's checks to pay him his $825 dollars.  He also finds out that Johnson is leaving early the next morning before his scheduled meeting with Morgan. 

Morgan returns the wallet to Johnson mentioning that he was going to skip out on his debt.  Frenchy's friends are in the hotel bar.  All of a sudden, someone shoots one of the four friends.  The other three pull out their guns and quite a gunfight breaks out.  Another of Frenchy's friends is hit and goes down, but two others are able to get away.  One of the men is Bauclere.  Mr. Johnson is killed.  A little later armed sailors come in accompanying the local Gestapo.  Mr. Renard is in charge of the investigation.  He is a heavy fellow wearing a French beret on his head.  Renard grabs Frenchy, another fellow and Morgan and Slim.  He takes them down to headquarters.  Frenchy tells Renard that he never saw the men in question before.  The other fellow who got away is named Emil.  Renard takes Mr. Johnson's wallet from Morgan who grabbed it in order to get his $825 dollars.  Renard confiscates the wallet and then takes all the money that Morgan has on him.  He doesn't care if Morgan never gets his money back. 

Now they start questioning Slim, whose real name is Marie Browning.  She answers questions in a rather sarcastic manner and she gets slapped for it.  This really makes Morgan angry.  The four friends of French are/were supporters of a Free France. 

After they are let go, Slim and Morgan go into a club.  Slim is going to use her looks to make some money.  She goes to flirt with some of the men.  Morgan says he doesn't mind and starts to leave.  He sees Slim dancing with one of the men in the club.  Later Slim returns to Morgan's room with some wine.  She says:  "You're sore, aren't you?"  Steve replies:  "Why should I be?"  Slim says:  "I didn't behave very well, did I?"  Steve responds:  "Hey, you did all right.  You got the bottle didn't you?"  Slim repeats:  "You're sore, aren't you?"   Getting exasperated Morgan says:  "Get this straight.  I don't give . . ."   She cuts him off with:  "I know.  I know.  You don't give a whoop what I do.  But when I do it, you get sore.  After all, you told me to, you know."   Steve asks:  "I told you?"  She answers back:  "You said go ahead, didn't you?"  Steve responds:  "Oh, yeah, that's right.  I guess I did.  You were pretty good at it, too."  She says sarcastically:  "Thanks! . . . Would you rather I wouldn't?"   He asks:  "Wouldn't what?"  She says:  "Do things like that."  He comes back with:  "Why ask me?"  She responds:  "I'd like to know."  Getting exasperated again, he says:  "Well, of all the screwy . . ."  She cuts him off again with:  "All right.  All right.  I won't do it anymore."  Still frustrated he starts to say:  "Look, I didn't ask you . . ."  She cuts him off:  "I know you didn't.  Don't worry.  I'm not giving up anything I care about."   Steve pours the drinks, but as the conversation keeps going, Slim gets miffed at the coldness of his responses, and leaves. 

Morgan now knocks on her door and goes in.  Slim tells "Steve" that she has been angry every since she met him.  She also says she brought that bottle to him to make him feel cheap, but instead she's the one who feels cheap.  Steve changes the conversation by asking her how long she has been away from home?  Six months.  And she desperately wants to get back home, but the war stands in her way.  Steve tells her:  "Quit worrying, kid, you'll get back alright."  He leaves.

Later Slim visits Steve again and brings the bottle with her.  She wants to know in what way can he help her get back home.  Slim guesses that he is going to take that job of taking Frenchy's pals to Devil's Island.  She asks him not to do it, but he says he needs the money.  So, she takes out the money she got from the men last night, and tries to give it to him.  He refuses to take it.  They banter back and forth until Slim sits on his lap and kisses him.  Steve asks:  "What'd you do that for?"  She replies:  "I've been wondering whether I'd like it."    "What's the decision?" asks Steve.  She says:  "I don't know yet."  She kisses him again and this time he joins in.  She then tells the skipper:  "It's even better when you help."

Steve still won't take Slim's money.  As she leaves, Slim tells him:  "You know, you don't have to act with me, Steve. You don't have to say anything and you don't have to do anything.  Not a thing.  Oh, maybe just whistle.  You know how to whistle, don't you Steve?  You just put your lips together and blow." 

The skipper is with Frenchy and some friends of his in the home of a Free French sympathizer. He listens to a wounded man tell him the signals to use when carrying out the mission.  He is to bring back two people:  Paul de Bursac and another man.  A boat will meet Morgan off the coast.  The wounded man asks Morgan why did he change his mind?  He says yesterday he didn't need the money, but today he does.  The man thanks him for being on their side, but Morgan says that he's not.  He is just doing it for the money.  They pay him and he leaves.  

In the morning Steve tells Slim that he got her an airplane ticket.  The plane leaves at 4 p.m.  Slim tells him that he actually wants her to leave.  He says yes.  Steve acts pretty cold toward her and then leaves. 

Morgan prepares for his mission.  Eddie jumps on the boat ready to go with him.  Morgan tells him he's not going.  Eddie doesn't believe him, so Morgan slaps him.  Eddie starts to leave, but asks why Steve slapped him?  "So you'd believe me" is the response.  He then gives Eddie some money for booze and now Eddie leaves happy. 

On his way Morgan discovers that Eddie is on the boat again.  He snuck back on board when Morgan was working on the engine.  Morgan reaches his destination.  He has Eddie take a rifle to start shooting if anyone shoots at them.  At the dock he picks up Mr. and Mrs. Bursac.  Steve is amazed that the other man is actually Bursac's wife.  Bursac asks Morgan just who is he?  Morgan shoots back:  "I own this boat.  Beauclere's paying me to get you people back to Martinique."   Morgan stops his boat and turns off all the lights.  He hears a naval vessel approaching.  The vessel comes out of the fog and shines a light on Morgan's boat.  Steve starts firing his weapon even though Bursac urged him not to because they might all get killed.  The sailors open fire with a machine gone and Paul Bursac is wounded.  Morgan manages to knock out the French spotlight and then heads into the fog. 

Eddie gets the first-aide kit and Morgan starts patching Paul up.  They reach their destination and Paul and his wife are transferred to a rowboat.  Gerard is one of the men in the row boat. 

Steve and Eddie return to their hotel.  They are both surprised to see Slim over by the piano player.  They both thought she had pulled out.  Slim and Steve squabble about her not going until Frenchy breaks it up by telling Steve that Bursac is very badly wounded.  The Bursacs are downstairs in the cellar.  They want Steve to take the bullet out of him. 

Steve goes below with Frenchy.  Mrs. Bursac wants to know if Steve is qualified to remove the bullet.  Steve tries to tell her to be reasonable.  Slim comes down with the hot water.  Steve goes to work.  Mrs. Bursac is to apply the chloroform, but she faints.  Slim has to do it.  Steve gets the bullet out quickly.  He then carries the wife out and puts her down on a couch.  Slim watches him closely. 

In the morning Steve and Mrs. Bursac awaken.  He asks her why she came on this trip?  She says because she loves her husband and because everyone told her it's no good for the husband if he leaves a loved one behind in France to be taken and held by the Germans.  She thanks Steve for saving Paul and apologizes for acting the way she did.  Slim comes in with some breakfast, but all Steve wants to do is go to his room and get some sleep.  Slim follows him and with a little work they are kissing again. 

Frenchy arrives.  Renard the inspector has got Eddie downstairs, filling him with drinks and grilling him with questions.  Steve goes down to find Eddie telling Renard about the great swordfish they were trying to reel in last night.  Steve says they lost the giant fish because they ran into a German submarine that turned its light on and fired at them.  Renard says it was a French patrol boat, not a German submarine.  He then wants to know about Steve's two passengers that he brought from Anguilla.  Steve plays dumb.  Renard offers to give Steve the $825 dollars owed him and $500 dollars extra for finding the fugitives. 

Steve comes into the bar where Cricket is playing the piano.  Morgan is searching for Eddie.  Slim comes down in a nice dress.  She is going to sing.  Steve goes down to the cellar and speaks to Paul.  Paul is recovering nicely, so Steve tells Frenchy he is pulling out as soon as he finds Eddie.  He now asks Paul why he came here?  Paul says they sent him to get Pierre Villemars out from Devil's Island and bring him to Martinique.  Steve is not interested in participating.  He is leaving.  He goes to Slim and tells her that the three of them are going, probably to Port-au-Prince, Haiti, starting at midnight tonight. 

Slim starts singing.  Mrs. Bursac wants to talk to Steve.  She is up in his room.  She gives him the jewels she has.  Slim comes up to say that Renard is on his way up.  Steve tells the women to go into another room.  Renard comes in along with Frenchy and two bodyguards.  He tells Steve that they have Eddie.  And he also wants to know where the two fugitives are.  Steve says he doesn't know.  Renard smells the perfume used by Slim, so Steve tells her to come on out.  She does so.  Renard says they will make Eddie talk by withholding liquor from him and forcing him into a painful withdrawal.  Steve asks Slim for a cigarette.  She opens the drawer to his desk where she spots a pistol.  She leaves the drawer open.  Steve works his way over to the desk saying he needs a match.  He grabs the gun and shoots one of the bodyguards through the desk drawer.  He then tells the other men to go ahead and pull their guns for he would love to shoot them.  Frenchy gets their guns.  He then puts handcuffs on the two men.  Mrs. Bursac now comes out.  Steve tells Slim to get Paul and take the Bursacs to the boat.  They're all leaving together.  Meanwhile, Steve tells Renard and his man that he's going to beat them with the butt of his pistol until they agree to make a phone call and get Eddie released.  Soon Renard is on the phone giving the order to release Eddie.  The next assignment for Renard is to sign harbor passes for Steve's passengers. 

Eddie arrives.  He takes Slim's bags and they head downstairs.  She stops long enough to say goodbye to Cricket. 

 

Of course the movie is a classic.  I liked the sarcastic dialogue between Slim and Steve where they would finish each other's sentences with answers.  And there are quite a few famous lines in the film.  This is the movie where the actors Bogart and Bacall fell in love with each other.  There's a lot of sexual tension in the dialogue which adds to the quality of the dialogue. There's not much history here, but it sure is a good movie. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

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