To Have and Have Not (1944)

Continuing my current Howard Hawks obsession, I’ve just re-watched one of his most famous films, the one where Bogart and Bacall met. The chemistry between them is just as sizzling as I’d remembered it from watching the film years ago – but what really struck me this time, after submerging myself in Hawks in recent weeks, is how much the movie has his stamp on it.

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Bogart and Bacall

The movie is loosely based on a famous Ernest Hemingway novel (I’ve read it many years ago but don’t remember much about it) and has a screenplay by Jules Furthman and William Faulkner, but the plot construction feels very Hawksian, all the same, and there are several lines which are similar or even identical to those in his previous films. “I don’t think I’ll ever shout at anyone  again,” a line spoken wearily by a wife who has just faced losing her husband, is one of these, almost identical to a line in Ceiling Zero in a slightly different context. 

 The central romance plot is similar to that in Only Angels Have Wings, as a woman turns up by chance in a turbulent setting, falls for a stranger, and stays around to see whether they have a chance together even when he tries to ensure that she leaves. Here, the setting is Martinique under the rule of Vichy France, where Harry Morgan (Bogart) sails a fishing boat for hire, but becomes fed up with his current client’s refusal to pay the money he owes. (In the book, Harry made his living ferrying contraband between Florida and Cuba.)

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Topper (1937)

I watched this movie more or less on the spur of the moment. To start with I didn’t know anything about it, and assumed it would be realistic, like most 1930s movies I’ve seen.  So I was surprised to discover that in fact it is a comic fantasy, based on a novel by Thorne Smith, who also wrote the book which inspired hit TV series Bewitched.

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The plot revolves around a rich, carefree  young couple, George (Cary Grant) and Marion (Constance Bennett), who die in a car crash. They find themselves marooned on earth as ghosts, until they can do a good deed to ensure their entrance into heaven. They decide to help a friend, strait-laced banker Cosmo Topper (Roland Young) to enjoy life and stop being so stuffy – but a lot of their ideas turn out to be the sort of help he could do without.

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