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DVD Reviews

HTF REVIEW: To Have And Have Not (HIGHLY RECOMMENDED).



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#1 of 9 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted November 01 2003 - 01:03 AM

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To Have And Have Not





Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 1944
Rated: Not Rated
Film Length: 100 Minutes
Aspect Ratio: Standard
Audio: DD Mono
Color/B&W: B&W
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
MSRP: $19.98
Package: Snap Case






The Feature:
On November 4th, Warner Brothers is set to release four old classics all of which feature the legendary film icon, Humphrey Bogart. Released will be, They Drive By Night, High Sierra, To Have And Have Not and Dark Passage. Also available will be The Bogart Collection featuring Casablanca – Two Disc SE, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre – Two Disc SE, The Big Sleep, The Maltese Falcon and To Have And Have Not. The MSRP for the gift set will be $99.98. In addition to the WB releases, the 1951 film noir, The Enforcer (Republic Pictures) is also due to release on December 16th.

To Have And Have Not is based on a novel of the same name written by Ernest Hemingway and from what I understand only slightly resembles the book. The film is directed by the legendary Howard Hawks, responsible for Bringing Up Baby, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday and the original 1932 version of Scarface among many others. The reunion of trio Hawks, Bogart and Bacall will result in the superior, The Big Sleep just two years later.

The convincing but rather simplistic story takes place on the island of Martinique where Captain Harry “Steve” Morgan (played by Humphrey Bogart) operates a charter fishing boat. His drunkard best friend Eddie (played by Walter Brennan) is usually with Harry during his charters, to give him a hand for a quick drink reward. The world is in the middle of war and as a result, business isn’t the greatest for Harry and his fishing vessel.

As a result, he decides to take a job for the French Resistance to transport a fugitive who is on the run from the Nazis. During the operation, they are confronted by an enemy boat patrolling the waters. After gunfire is exchanged, the fugitive is wounded and they now they must find their way back to the island without being located and captured.

Harry lives in an American style café with resident piano player named Cricket (Hoagy Carmichael who plays “Am I Blue?", "How Little We Know" and the "Hong Kong Blues”). Also staying at the café is Marie “Slim” Browning (played by Lauren Bacall who makes it pretty clear, she’s interested in “Steve” (which is how she refers to Harry).

When they finally arrive back, the Resistance with the help of Harry and the café owner Frenchy, aid the group in hiding the wounded fugitive who is being pursued by the corrupt police officials headed by Capt. Renard (played by Dan Seymour). After the Capt. learns the identity of the smuggled passengers, it becomes a cat and mouse chase to see if Harry can escape before the rotund official puts the squeeze on him and his new found love…

Wonderfully seductive and captivating, it's an immensely enjoyable performance particularly considering it was Bacall’s first appearance in a motion picture. Basically, she stole the show. With the effective use of her sexy, sultry, husky voice and her confident eyes, Howard Hawks creates one of the most scorching “suggestive” films of the period – remember, the year is 1944! She is also responsible for one of the most famous lines ever in film. While standing in Bogart’s doorway she states; “you know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together…. and blow”. Everybody seems relaxed including Bacall (especially for her first film). Perhaps the most memorable thing about this film is its snappy, quick witted dialogue – with most of it coming from Bacall.

It’s no secret that this film has many comparisons to Casablanca, which include a neutral American not wanting to get involved to thwart Nazi efforts --but does, a story taking place in an American style café, a likeable piano player and a character resembling Casablanca’s Sydney Greenstreet, this time in the form of Capt. Renard (not to be confused with Capt. Renault in Casablanca). Hmmm…. Regardless of the similarities and its rather simplistic storyline, the chemistry between Bogart and Bacall alone, make this movie an extraordinarily enjoyable two hours well spent.



Video:
Once again Warner Bros. has delivered a superb video presentation of a classic film. Like the other Bogart discs soon to be released next week, this is a top quality transfer which I was extremely impressed with. In fact, This is by far the best of the lot, thus far (though I haven’t yet watched Dark Passage – its up next).

There are a number of great examples of the dimensionality of the film and its transfer, none better than chapter #20. While Harry is waiting in the room for Paul to recover, there is a great sense of depth where you almost feel you can reach through the screen. Very impressive. While it doesn’t deliver with the same amount or sense of consistency as the recent Casablanca SE, there are many scenes that are equally as impressive.

Black levels were exceptional as can be easily discerned by the jacket Harry wears on a frequent basis. Also easily evident is the exceptional grayscale. There were many close-ups which looked sharp demonstrating a great level of detail except the many female close-ups which were obviously softer. There is a good amount of grain structure which renders a very pleasing film like image.

Like anything that is almost 60 years old, there are going to be blemishes. The few I’m about to mention are more from an observation standpoint, than a critical one.

There is some shimmer and light instability during the few opening scenes as well as sporadically throughout the film, but it’s rather minimal. Occasionally light speckle is apparent (most notably visible during chapter #16). Film dirt and scratches are also present but negligible.

Also on the plus side, there doesn’t appear to be any compression of enhancement issues.

This is a great transfer. While it’s not quite on par with the recent releases of say Casablanca or The Bad And The Beautiful, I’m confident fans will be pleased…!!



Audio:
The DD Mono soundtrack provided is again, as good as we can expect, and then some. I found this track to be exceptionally crisp (while actors were shuffling their feet on a gritty floor, the striking of matches etc). Other than the entertaining appearances by Hoagy Carmichael, the movie is basically dialogue driven with exceptional clarity. Hoagy’s music was also convincing and had an airiness to it that was overall, satisfying.

There was a bit of punch to the track as well. While I won’t give the scene away, there was a quick gunshot (which I was expecting, having seen the film many times before) after Harry pulled a gun out of his desk and it literally scared the tar out of me (OK, it was late – maybe I was tired, but it was effective)…

Unlike a few of the recent WB offerings, this one came with a slight hiss and was really only noticeable (but not bothersome) when the volume was rather loud. No big deal. I did notice what seemed to be an entire sequence of a scene where Harry was out of sync (at the 59:54 mark). It lasted for about 10 seconds – tops. Again, not a big deal.

Like the video presentation, the DD Mono track on this disc delivers. It does exactly what we would expect and more…!!



Special Features:
[*] A Love Story: The Story Of To Have And Have Not. This is newly made documentary featuring Bogart biographer Eric Lax and Leonard Maltin who discuss the collaboration of Hawks and Hemingway to make the film and the running joke of how Hawks said he could make a great movie from Hemingway’s worst novel, which he referred to as “that bunch of junk, To Have And Have Not”. Also discussed is the Roosevelt Administration’s consternation relating to the impending release. They also go into great detail as to the illustrious relationship that was soon to follow. So far, all of these newly created documentaries for the Bogart releases have been superb… just why can’t they be longer…? Duration: 11:16 Minutes.
[*] The next feature is one of my favorite recent WB inclusions – to add the animated short to which it is parodying. In this case its Bacall To Arms, which is a 1946 Merrie Melody short directed by Robert Clampett. A wolf ventures out to the movies where the feature attraction is “To Have, To Have, To Have” starring Bogie Gocart and Laurie Becool. The goofy wolf who is obviously smitten with Laurie Becool winds up getting shot over a discarded butt. I’m not sure what or if any restoration has been done to this short, but it looks pretty good. “Next Week – Ann Sheridan With Selected Shorts”. GREAT stuff… Duration: 6:13 Minutes.
[*] Airing on October 10th, 1946 this features the 12th Anniversary of the Lux Radio Broadcast which stars Bogart and Bacall. I listened to a few minutes of this which sounded clear but had a “scratchiness” to it.
[*] The last special feature is the Theatrical Trailer which is in reasonably good shape. Duration: 2:50 Minutes.

A very nice assortment of special features to compliment the film…!



Final Thoughts:
Without sounding corny, while I was watching this film, I couldn’t help but feel we were watching two colossal legends, falling in love – in real life. It’s unmistakably evident, there was a chemistry between Bogart and Bacall that was, well, entertaining to watch even beyond the film itself. While many place this movie among the top Bogarts, I can’t help think that the introduction of Bacall is absolutely responsible. Though I enjoy the movie immensely, its not one of my favorite Bogarts… However, Bacall helps to convey an atmosphere measured in spades.

I have a sneaky suspicion that regardless of what I have to say about this disc, fans are going to buy it either way. And so they should…! The presentation is top shelf, the extras are appealing and, oh yeah, the movie… it’s great too!

Highly Recommended…!!




Release Date: November 4th, 2003
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#2 of 9 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted November 01 2003 - 01:51 AM

Herb, It's ironic that I just got through watching my dvd and unlike you, I always thought of "To Have and Have Not" as one of my Bogart favorites. I love the dialogue and the interplay between not only Bogart and Bacall, but also their scenes with Walter Brennen. The transfer of this dvd is just beautiful and those that are fans of this film will be very happy with the quality of the dvd presentation. I also wished the featurette was longer and while it was playing, I couldn't put my finger on the narrator's voice, but I knew it was somebody that I've seen and heard before. Well, he was an actor that I've seen before and some of you might remember Monte Markham, who portrayed Perry Mason back on television in the early 1970s. Also, the cartoon was great and the closing line might not be very PC, however, it was pretty funny to me. Herb, If you haven't seen "Dark Passage" you're in for a real treat, particularly Agnes Moorehead from "Bewitched" and Charles Foster Kane's mother fame. Crawdaddy

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#3 of 9 OFFLINE   Bill Burns

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Posted November 01 2003 - 01:55 AM

Another fine piece of review work, Herb. I'm looking forward to reading image quality reactions to Dark Passage, which is the title that most intrigues me in this uniformly exciting group of releases. The infamy (well, that sounds nefarious -- er, the undying reputation) of To Have and Have Not makes it a clear must-buy. I caught it on television years ago, but don't remember much of it (aside from the "it's even better when you help" sequence, which those who haven't seen it may still know for the "you just put your lips together and blow" line that soon follows -- I laugh at the "it's even better" line, though, which is why that continues to stick with me). Posted Image
“That line was screwy.”

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Warner Bros.' Breakdowns of 1938

#4 of 9 OFFLINE   george kaplan

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Posted November 01 2003 - 02:06 AM

Great news about the transfer! I'll be retiring yet another of my laser discs. I actually consider this film better than The Big Sleep. To Have & Have Not is a truly great classic, and my third favorite Bogie film (after Casablanca and African Queen), with Big Sleep coming in fourth.
"Movies should be like amusement parks. People should go to them to have fun." - Billy Wilder

"Subtitles good. Hollywood bad." - Tarzan, Sight & Sound 2012 voter.

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#5 of 9 OFFLINE   Piers C

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Posted November 01 2003 - 04:43 AM

Herb, thanks for the review. Your video & audio comments are really helpful. Its good to have a video context vs. other recent DVD transfers (Casablanca, etc.)

#6 of 9 ONLINE   Robert Crawford

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Posted November 01 2003 - 07:40 AM

By the way, the "Dark Passage" dvd is excellent and it has one of my favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons.

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#7 of 9 OFFLINE   Scott Leopold

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Posted November 01 2003 - 11:23 AM

I have been dying to own this since a couple summers ago when we saw it on the big screen during a local theater's classic film series. Their print was an interesting almagamation of 3 or 4 separate prints, the worst of which appeard to be a 16mm blowup. Luckily, the majority of the movie was from an original nitrate print, and looked stunning. It was great because we were up in the balcony, and the whole theater was really into it (with the exception of my wife, who always gets in a bad mood when I'm watching something with Lauren Bacall). The dialogue in this is fantastic, with some of the most memorable lines ever muttered on film.

#8 of 9 OFFLINE   Herb Kane

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Posted November 02 2003 - 04:58 AM

[quote] If you haven't seen "Dark Passage" you're in for a real treat [quote]
Crawdaddy... remember you said the new Casablanca brought a tear to your eye...? Well, I'm toweling off this time... Posted Image

WOW.
My Top 25 Noirs:

25. 711 Ocean Drive (1950), 24. Odds Against Tomorrow (1959), 23. Desperate (1947), 22. Pushover (1954), 21. The Blue Dahlia (1946), 20. The File on Thelma Jordon (1949), 19. He Ran All the Way (1951), 18. The Asphalt Jungle (1950), 17. The Killing (1956), 16. I Walk Alone (1948),...

#9 of 9 OFFLINE   Vincent Matis

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Posted November 02 2003 - 10:14 AM

I'm 31 years old, and even if I may sound like my father,I'd say we don't see movies like this anymore...
I consider this movie to be one of the best-written ones (for dialogue, not the screenplay, rather unremarkable) Posted Image Posted Image

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