"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Million Dollar Movie

On a fishing trip in 1939, film director Howard Hawks told Ernest Hemingway:

“Ernest, you’re a damn fool. You need money, you know. You can’t do all the things you’d like to do. If I make three dollars in a picture, you get one of them. I can make a picture out of your worst story.”

“What’s my worst story?”

“That god damned bunch of junk called To Have and To Have Not [sic.].”

“You can’t make anything out of that.”

“Yes I can. You’ve got the character of Harry Morgan; I think I can give you the wife. All you have to do is make a story about how they met.”

It’s not a great movie but it is good entertainment (and the screenplay was co-written by William Faulkner of all people). Walter Brennan and Hoagy Carmichael are winning in supporting roles and Lauren Bacall practically burns a hole in the screen. Man, what poise, what a kitten:


1 Alex Belth   ~  Sep 20, 2010 11:11 am

Man, what a sexy voice she had...figure wasn't too bad neither.

2 Matt Blankman   ~  Sep 20, 2010 11:16 am

Why isn't it a great movie? It's not my favorite Hawks by any stretch (that would probably be Only Angels Have Wings or Rio Bravo), but it's an unforgettable flick.

3 Alex Belth   ~  Sep 20, 2010 11:22 am

Because it's just really good and I just don't see what about it is great, the above scene notwithstanding. Pain in my ass.


4 Matt Blankman   ~  Sep 20, 2010 11:25 am

The characters are indelible. I think that's what elevates it from being merely good. We're splitting hairs as usual, man.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Sep 20, 2010 11:42 am

4) We should have our own show. LOL. But to me, a movie like LA CONFIDENTIAL was good, very good, but not great like THE GODFATHER. TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, very good, but not THE MALTESE FALCON.

But hey, any movie with Hoagy Carmichael can't be bad, right? (Now, you say something awesome about Walter Brennan...)

6 Cliff Corcoran   ~  Sep 20, 2010 12:43 pm

Got this on DVD at a steep discount. I'm with Alex on solid but not great. It wasn't a best picture nom, and shouldn't have been. Bacall is incredible, however. Her mouth seems to curve and snake around like the Amazon. Stunning. That said, that signature scene is more of a showcase than an organic part of the film, not that I mind.

7 Matt Blankman   ~  Sep 20, 2010 1:23 pm

[6] Best Picture nominations are not a good arbiter of anything beyond knowing what people were thinking at the time. Come to think of it, neither are Oscar wins. I mean, was "Wilson" more worthy of the Best Picture nom than "To Have and Have Not?" Don't be silly. There have been some egregious decisions by the Academy over the years.

I would say from what I've seen, the best film of 1944 was Wilder's "Double Indemnity."

feed Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share via email
"This ain't football. We do this every day."
--Earl Weaver