To Have and Have Not (Warner), having jettisoned a solid 90% of the Ernest Hemingway novel, for which Warner Bros, paid plenty, may make devotees of Hemingway the sourest boycotters since Carrie Nation.* But the sea change which Producer-Director Howard Hawks supervisedfor the benefit of Humphrey Bogart, Hoagy (Star Dust) Carmichael, and a sensational newcomer named Lauren Bacall (rhymes with McCall)results in the kind of tinny romantic melodrama which millions of cinemaddicts have been waiting forever since Casablanca (TIME, Nov. 30. 1942).
The screen story of To Have and Have Not is still about a couple of low characters named Harry Morgan and Marie, and Harry is still a rugged individualist who takes rich men out fishing and earns side money in whatever nefarious ways turn up. But Harry's beat is no longer the axis between bourgeois. Key West and revolutionary Havana; he now works out of wartime Martinique, and the villains are Vichyites. Marie is no longer an idealized image of happy marriage; she is a tall, hoarse, egregious, 22-year-old tramp, so worldly-wise that when a policeman all but slaps her jaw out of joint she hardly bats an eye.
Harry Morgan's adventures are also considerably altered. He smuggles Gaullists, slams pistols against Vichyites. Harry Morgan becomes, in fact, one of Humphrey Bogart's most edged portrayals of Nietzsche in dungarees, without whose hard resourcefulness one is forced to infer that the rest of the effete world would quickly fall apart.
But To Have and Have Not is neither an action picture nor a Bogart picture. Its story is, in fact, just a loosely painted background for a kind of romance which the movies have all but forgotten aboutthe kind in which the derelict sweethearts are superficially aloof but essentially hot as blazes, and seem to do even their kissing out of the corners of their mouths. This particular romance is decorated by some sinister yet friendly bits of low-life café atmosphere. Hoagy Carmichael's performance as a cokey-looking ivory-prowler is especially useful for some spidery Caribbean jazz, and for two wryly elegant Carmichael songs. But the most valuable fixture in the show is 20-year-old Lauren Bacall.
Talents and Tailoring. Lauren Bacall has cinema personality to burn, and she burns both ends against an unusually little middle. Her personality is compounded partly of percolated Davis, Garbo, West, Dietrich, Harlow and Glenda Farrell, but more than enough of it is completely new to the screen. She has a javelinlike vitality, a born dancer's eloquence in movement, a fierce female shrewdness and a special sweet-sourness. With these faculties, plus a stone-crushing self-confidence and a trombone voice, she manages to get across the toughest girl a piously regenerate Hollywood has dreamed of in a long, long while.