1944 - Dir: Howard Hawks
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 26th February, 2011
Hemmingway wasn’t too proud of his book "To Have and Have Not". Warner Brothers didn’t think much of it either but they’d bought the rights and wanted to make some money on the investment. The solution was to get William Faulkner and Jules Furthman to completely rewrite it (it remains in the same setting and the theme of rum running survives). They then threw their hottest property (Humphrey Bogart) at it and got Howard Hawks, one of the steadiest hands in the business, to direct it. All seemed set for a solid but rather unexciting film that would have done modest business even during wartime... but then there was Lauren Bacall.
Hawks had spotted Bacall in New York where she was a model and bit part stage actress. He persuaded her mother to let her travel to Los Angeles, signed her to a Warner Bros contract, and spent many months grooming her for a major role in the movies. There’s little doubt that Mr Hawks regarded the nineteen year old Bacall as his protege and expected a "reward" for his attentions. But then Bacall met Bogart on the set... Mr Hawks was not best pleased. Bogart was married to actress Mayo Methot but the marriage was on the rocks - largely due to Mrs Bogart’s overindulgence in whisky on the rocks.
Bacall claims to have been so nervous during the shoot that she trembled almost uncontrollably before takes. If that’s the case there’s not a sign of it in the finished movie where she can be said to smoulder rather than shiver. When the film was released she was the sensation of the moment. Despite the studio’s misgivings the story of their whirlwind romance was lapped up by the public and they became one of Hollywood’s most established and stable pairings. Howard Hawks never spoke to Bogart again.