To Have and Have Not (1944)

To Have and Have Not
Directed by Howard Hawks
Written by Jules Furthman and William Faulkner based on the novel by Ernest Hemingway
(number 425)

Starring Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart as a very sardonic and unflappable lounge singer and the captain of a small skiff on Martinique during the second world war. Marie is quickly nicknamed Slim for the rest of the film. The two of them ooze attitude all over the place in this gorgeous black and white classic.

According to wikipedia this is actually Lauren Bacall’s first film, so I can easily see why it’s included on the 500 list, although I didn’t find it terribly gripping.

Eddie is Steve’s drunkard first mate and supplies most of the comic relief in the movie, although the drunkenness is played for laughs he has some very good lines and you are concerned when he’s in danger. I know I made some indignant sounds at the tv when bad things were happening to him.

The story is pretty simple, I was sort of expecting something a bit more Casablanca-level epic, but it was straightforward, for money Steve agrees to help a French couple from the Resistance who are on the run getting them to Martinique and then hiding them, then transporting them safely off the island. Steve is a bit of a Han Solo character, doing the right thing ‘for the money’ and then stepping up to actually do the right thing for it’s own sake. He even shoots first in the big shoot out scene.

In fact the whole ‘smuggling of people’ is very Casablanca-esque, but it all felt a lot more contained. Scenes happened in a few smallish rooms rather than in the roomy, airy ones of Sam’s Americano cafe.

The real attraction to this movie, aside from the stunning way it’s filmed, is the interplay between Slim and Steve. The arch way they look at each other, the sardonic drawling euphemisms, the way she just calls him out on shit and inserts herself into his life apparently effortlessly. He certainly seems surprised that she does it, which makes me like her spunkiness.

Wikipedia also informs me that the William Faulkner on the script team is the ‘the’ Faulkner of The Sound and the Fury. He worked with Hawks and Hemmingway to adapt the novel to the screenplay, although apparently it is drastically changed.

Does it make me love the people? I adore Slim, so so much. Eddie is adorable, and I liked Steve a fair bit too. It’s hard to compare a character to Han Solo and then claim you didn’t like him, but he was pretty generic. It’s Slim who stays with you from this movie.

Bechdel test: Why yes, Slim and Madame Hellene de Bursac talk about who Slim is, before the surgery and about eggs after it. Amazing 🙂

Best line:
Marie: Who was that girl?
Steve: What girl?
Marie: The one who left you with such a high opinion of women. She must’ve been quite a gal….

State of Mind: Sort of ehhhhh. I mean it had a lot going for it but it just didn’t grip me as a whole. I’m sure if I’d watched it in a cinema with an ice cream in my hand I would have enjoyed it more. Maybe I should give it another go…

Watched movie count

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Howl’s Moving Castle (2004)

Howl’s Moving Castle
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Written by Hayao Miyazaki based off the book by Diana Wynne Jones
(number 239)

I watched this with Anna although I have seen it many times before. I saw this first at the International Film Festival in the Embassy, although this time I watched it in English. It’s a lovely, atmospheric movie about accepting oneself, improving the lives of others and believing in love. The English version is very good, Christian Bale provides the voice of Howl and Lauren Bacall is the voice of the Witch of the Waste.

I dunno why but I find sequences of people cleaning up make me really happy. I love seeing all the stuff get cleaned up and organised and the room going from mucky to sparkling. It’s one of my favourite bits from Fruits Basket as well, anime seems to have it as a bit of a trope, giving time to showing a character cleaning house. Actually I’ve loved bits in books like this too, like that one Enid Blyton book where they find a run down house in the middle of a forest. What’s the appeal? Cleansing as a character restart maybe?

The movie is an adaptation of the book by the fantastic Diana Wynne Jones and when I first saw the movie I was quite sad that they had taken away some of Sophie’s power and given it to Howl instead. I don’t mind so much watching it now, perhaps because I haven’t read the book in so long. I like that they retained Sophie’s ageing/de-ageing as part of the story – a reflection of how she is feeling at the time. The more down on herself she is the more she reverts back to the cursed age the witch gave her.

Does it make me love the people? Always. I adore Calcifer from the first moment he speaks but I also love the wizard Howl, with all his emotional outbursts and charm, and of course Sophie with her temper, her way of taking other people in. There’s an incredible amount of forgiveness and acceptance that Sophie displays and the nice thing is that it’s not something that is made a fuss of in the story, it’s just a part of who she is as a character.

It’s, like pretty much all the other Ghibli movies, visually stunning. Lush landscapes and watercolour flowers. Lots of mountains and open blue sky. It made me miss the landscapes we saw zooming through Japan on the Shinkansen.

Bechdel test: Yes and very early on. Sophie talks to her sister Lettie about the weird way she got home, and about being safe, and she talks to the Witch of the Waste about lots of things over the course of the movie. Anna pointed out that when talking to her sister Sophie also expresses the opinion that she doesn’t need any man (their absent father in this case) worrying about her, because she can take care of herself.

Best line:
Howl: I feel terrible, like there’s a weight on my chest.
Sophie: A heart’s a heavy burden

State of Mind: Dreamy. Although possibly because I started to nap a little during the movie, but it is a very dreamlike film visually. The music is soothing and generally pastoral which probably helped as well.