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Monday, April 11, 2016
Howard Hawks | To Have and Have Not
by Douglas Messerli
Jules Furthman and William Faulkner (screenplay, based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway).
Howard Hawks (director) To Have and Have Not / 1944
It has always struck me as immensely funny that the great novelist William Faulkner—along with expert screenwriter Jules Furthman (writer of Morocco, Blonde Venus, Rio Bravo and, again with Faulkner and others, The Big Sleep)—was assigned the project of rewriting Ernest Hemingway’s rather mediocre novel, To Have or Have Not. Even director Howard Hawks, an admirer of Hemingway, reportedly thought the work was Hemingway’s worst.
You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t
have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not
a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle,
don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and…blow.
But just a few moments earlier after kissing him, then kissing him again to which he more fully responds, she quips “It’s better when you help”—an even better line for my money.
While Casablanca is filled with homoerotic moments, To Have or Have Not is utterly heterosexual. Not even Harry’s strange relationship with Eddie is even worth talking about. Eddie, to use the metaphor of the movie, simply has a “bee in his bonnet”—he expresses a constant fear of bee stings throughout—and it is only he who demands proof of the hero’s love. Slim is absolutely sure of her man. From the moment she meets him, Harry doesn’t have a chance.
Los Angeles, April 11, 2016