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August 01, 2006

Say, was you ever bit by a dead bee?

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"You know Steve, you’re not very hard to figure. Only at times. Sometimes I know exactly what you’re going to say. Most of the time. And the other times, the other times, you’re just a stinker."

Possibly the best lines from any film I have ever seen. These delivered by Lauren Bacall in her first film rôle as Marie Browning, or rather "Slim", alongside husband to be Humphrey Bogart in To Have and Have Not (1944). Vichy French baddies, shoot-outs and Hoagy Carmichael on the piano. This one has everything. If To Have and Have Not was not already the perfect movie the wiggle at the end would have made it so. Seriously, the wiggle.

This is the first of four Bogart/Bacall films; the others including Dark Passage and Key Largo. I liked Key Largo just fine. It had the virtue of not being set in San Francisco and thereby avoiding noirish atmospheric clichés. But for all that Dark Passage is accused of gimmickry - and boy is it gimmicky - Key Largo has a staginess that I find harder to forgive in a film. At least noir gimmicks represent an attempt to figure out the new medium rather than restaging old conventions; something like the fun, adventurous mistakes bloggers make when they stop trying to pretend they are writing for a newspaper.

To Have and Have Not does not face these problems. The worst that can be said about it is that it attempts to recapture the spirit of Casablanca or that it is tangentially based on Hemingway's least successful novel. Though the worst of Hemingway stills seems to me to be something to aspire to. "I needed the money," was Hemingway's explanation of the book. A reason that is more than good enough in the book of any professional writer.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at August 1, 2006 10:07 AM

Comments

Bacall was all of nineteen years old when she and Bogey made that movie. Godfrey Daniel, was she a fox or what? She makes Jessica Simpson look about as sexy as a waitress on the graveyard shift at Hooters.

Posted by: utron [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2006 12:46 PM

Amen to that. A cinematic debut I can only compare to Jane Seymour's Solitaire in To Live and Let Die; aged 18 unless I am mistaken.

Posted by: Ghost of a flea [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2006 05:13 PM

We don't really write for newsrags?

Dang.

Posted by: agent bedhead [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 1, 2006 09:59 PM