From his father, who loved the natural world, Hemingway learned in childhood to fish and shoot, and a love of these things shaped his life along with a third thing, writing. Almost from the first there is his distinct voice. In his journal of a camping trip he took with a friend when he was sixteen years old, he wrote of trout fishing, “Great fun fighting them in the dark in the deep swift river.” His style was later said to have been influenced by Sherwood Anderson, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound, journalism, and the forced economy of transatlantic cables, but he had his own poetic gift and also the intense desire to give to the reader the full and true feeling of what happened, to make the reader feel it had happened to him. He pared things down. He left out all that could be readily understood or taken for granted and the rest he delivered with savage exactness. There is a nervy tension in his writing. The words seem to stand almost in defiance of one another. The powerful early stories that were made of simple declaratives seemed somehow to break through into a new language, a genuine American language that had so far been undiscovered, and with it was a distinct view of the world.
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: