Classic Scene #14
To Have And Have Not, 1944, Howard Hawks
‘Ain’t these tears in my eyes telling you...’
By To Have And Have Not Howard Hawks was in open revolt against narrative, ignoring the original Hemingway story and finding any excuse to get Hoagy Carmichael and his piano into the film. Notice the casual way this song seems to evolve out of nothing, as if Bacall conjured it up as an excuse to escape the creep she’s with as well as a way of flirting with the mysterious stranger across the bar. Notice that knowing glance his way as she sings ‘the sad and lonely one’. This is a girl who’s had her heart broken, who knows all about the blues. Come and get me if you like, she’s saying, just don’t expect it to be easy. Later in the same film, and Bacall is at it again, communicating things in song she’s to wary to say in reality. ‘Love comes along, casting a spell' she croons seductively. 'Will it sing you a song, will it say a farewell? Who can tell?’ It’s a tease and a plea; I want you/I don’t care, I love you/I don’t care, you can have me/I don’t care. Flirtation is at the heart of it, that lovely balance between yes and no, that place where everything is possible and only the moment matters. In other words, to have and have not. You get the feeling Hawks only decided to make the film so he could use that title.