In the schedules of right-thinking Cantabridgians this week, few things will rate so high as a trip to the Brattle. Among the excellent reasons for this are Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Walter Brennan, and enough fine supporting actors to fill out the principal casts for two more high-powered films.
The rest of the film's pedigree matches its cast. With script by Faulkner from Hemingway's novel and Hawkes as director, there are so many clever lines that even bit players have good roles. This is the "if-you-want-me-just-whistle" and the "Hong Kong Blues" film. It has Bacall at the height of her slinky period and she sings "How Little We Know." It comes to grips with the cosmos and sums it up in the single question "was you ever bit by a dead bee?" There are wise cracks and tough talks with sizzling looks that promise kisses or threaten bloodied noses. Sudden death and marlin fishing are the he-man business of Captain Harry Morgan: and both are Bogart's field of concentration.
With Hoagy Carmichael at the piano, Miss Bacall at the bar and Bogart at his favorite attitude of tight-lipped heroism, To Have And Have Not is at a near-peak of movie making. Its sometimes loose construction and frequent mawkish patriotism make it the more enjoyable as tiny imperfections in beloved people and objects only add to their charm. Hemingway's mediocre novel has been screened several times, but this is the best.