(Originally written May 28, 2005)
The plot of To Have and Have Not is similar to that of Casablanca, but Howard Hawks’ film is not nearly as impressive as the world-renowned 1942 classic. Although Lauren Bacall exudes a mysterious sense of sexuality in one of the most impressive screen debuts of all time, Humphrey Bogart is not at his best. He brought more of a sense of complexity to his character in Casablanca. The ability to find optimism in the midst of the heartache and the troubles is what made Rick such an engaging character. To Have and Have Not works out too neatly with the good characters rewarded and the villains punished. The happy ending was a bit too smug in the context of a film that is a bit more risqué and dark. The dialogue is sharp, and the direction is superb in this film. However, the content does not appear to rise up to the form, and the story is not as engagingly told as in the rest of director Howard Hawks’s films.