an entertaining film with three great performances. the chemistry between bogart, bacall and brennan is the kind of thing that is half created and half born. bogart’s character in dark passage is different because in that film he plays the everyman who was wrongfully accused. in “to have and to have not” he’s an infinitely more capable hero. he plays both very well.
really, though the film is about more than just the stunning and brilliant lauren bacall. there’s also other stuff in this film. like lauren bacall’s dress at the end, or the little dance she does moments before the ending of the film, or the way she looks at bogart. all those things are also high points of the film. okay seriously….i’m going to buy this movie tomorrow so i can experience the illustrious and breathtaking pulchritude of bacall at a moment’s notice. whew. i’ve been reduced to school boy status by this film, it’s really amazing.
at any rate, the film does have strengths beyond the goddess lauren bacall. in this film bacall and bogart have a chemistry rarely matched in the history of cinema. generally i’m not a romance film kinda guy so i don’t look forward to the parts of the film where the two lovers look deep into each other’s eyes, say something corny and then kiss, but in this film it’s entirely different. i’d have to see casablanca again, but i think that the chemistry in this film is even more powerful than that created in casablanca. in casablanca there the entire film had that relationship as its focus – their past, sam (the piano player), etc. were all used to add another dimension to the relationship between bogart and bergman, so, in that respect, the relationship in casablanca was stronger. but in terms of onscreen chemistry, i think that “to have and have not” did an even better job.
bogart, not to be out shined by bacall, is also great in this film. he plays the straight-shooting, quick-talking, able-bodied, street-smart good guy so well that you almost forget the character can exist outside of him. in actual fact, it rarely did at this level. again, not to be outdone, you have walter brennan who i grew to love from watching rio bravo (also penned by jules furthman). i’ve only seen a small handful of his films, but this guy always stands out in a film – no matter the size of his role. in this film he has a supporting role as an alcoholic who tags along with bogart. between the three stars and the direction of the picture you have quite an amazing film. add to that the sharp and often funny script and you have a classic of forties cinema with three of the finer performances of the period. and all this goes without mentioning the plot which features international intrigue, political upheaval and a budding romance.