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Howard Hawks: The Measure of Man

Tuesday, March 6, 2012
7:00 p.m. To Have and Have Not
Howard Hawks (U.S., 1944)

In this casual adaptation of a Hemingway novel, Humphrey Bogart plays a fishing boat captain in Vichy-controlled Martinique whose resolute refusal of political commitment—asked what his sympathies are, he says “minding my own business”—is challenged when he’s called upon to help a friend. Hawks sought an actress who could match Bogart’s insolence and found her in Lauren Bacall, whom he plucked from the pages of Harper’s Bazaar and refashioned into a husky-voiced, sideways-smiling star. The crackling energy between the two leads, and the byplay with supporting characters like Walter Brennan’s grizzled rummy and Hoagy Carmichael’s gentle jazzman, makes the wartime plot feel both exciting and almost irrelevant. Europe may be burning, but what really matters is how Bacall asks for a light.

—Juliet Clark

• Written by Jules Furthman, William Faulkner, from the novel by Ernest Hemingway. Photographed by Sidney Hickox. With Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan, Lauren Bacall, Hoagy Carmichael. (100 mins, B&W, 35mm, Permission Warner Bros.)