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Archive for the ‘Marcel Dalio’ Category

To Have and Have Not

20 Dec

To Have And Have Not — Directed by Howard Hawks. Drama. A man shifts loyalties from none to two. 100 minutes Black and White 1944.

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Like a gold panther she moves slowly and deliberately through every scene, as though to move quickly would tip her hand. The humor that lies behind her calculation keeps her from being witchy, and Hawks presents her with the Walk-Around-Me scene which makes her sure she will not be possessive. But she will be loyal, and her becoming that is her arc here. Hawks or his wife Slim or the studio brought Bacall from modeling in New York and made of this girl with the unusually suggestive  good looks a star. When Hawks met her he told her to go off into a room for two weeks and practice lowering her voice, which she did. She came back a contralto. She was completely come-hither throughout and always keyed up. She  has a knowing eye and moves slowly at all times toward or away from her prey, much the same thing either way. She was something new in sexual effrontery. She was a teenager. It’s difficult to judge her skills as an actress here because she is so effective in everything she is confined to do. Like a very dangerous cat she is handled carefully. In just the same way it is difficult to judge Bogart, because here he is in a part well within his intense but narrow range, sardonic but truly humorous, taciturn, slow to anger, but terrifying when he does, and eyes gleaming with fear. When in danger he evinces perfect groundedness, a quick draw with a wisecrack,  and a superhuman aplomb. He’s perfect for the part. He performed many parts in film for which he was not particularly suited, especially after The War, but this is not one of them. The picture is a redaction of a Hemingway novel, via one of Hawks’ favorite screenwriters, William Faulkner. Bogart plays the owner of a for-rent fishing boat in Martinique, which is Vichy French during The War, and his character is established long before Bacall appears on the screen, in his relations with his drunken crewmember played by Walter Brennan, whom Hawks had used years before in Barbary Coast and would use often again. Brennan is brilliant in the execution of an imaginative parcel of tics and gimps, and is so screwy that we see that Bogart’s snideness does not exclude loyalty and courage in defense of Brennan and in defense of … loyalty and courage. It is not hard to follow the small story that ensues, although at times it is quite swallowed up by fascinating side-scenes between B & B. It is not about nostalgia as Casablanca is, but it resembles Casablanca in that it all takes place in a café; it involves the rescue of important anti-Nazi patriots, boasts, in Hoagy Carmichael, a seductive singer pianist, and even has the fine expatriate French actor Marcel Dalio, plus Bogey. A masterpiece of editing, beautifully lit and filmed by Sydney Hickox, for some reason it is impossible to not watch it. For, after all, what is this thing? Does one really care about any of these people and their ambitions? No. So why is it so engrossing? It is unanswerable. Its hold is a mystery. But what that means is that it hasn’t dated. Enjoy it once again.

 

 
 
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