I love CASABLANCA. What film fan doesn't? It's a classic! But the film I gravitate more to is the 'other' CASABLANCA, which is TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT. Both movie are similar. Strikingly similar. Both films are set during WWII, each one has a cool night club, and Bogart plays a cynical expatriate in each. The list of similarities goes on and on.
Yes, CASABLANCA is probably the better film. Director Michael Curtiz could light a B&W movie like nobody. I just happen to think that TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT is cooler. It's a Howard Hawks film, so you know the dialogue is going to be witty and fast paced, which I like a lot. Plus Bogart is way cooler in this one.
Bogart plays Harry Morgan, an American expatriate hiding out in Martinique during WWII. Harry and his first mate Eddie (played by Howard Hawks regular Walter Brennan) make their money by taking customers out deep sea fishing. One night at a club they run into a client who has yet to pay up. The gentleman's date for the evening, Marie, wants to get payed as well. Harry catches Marie (Lauren Bacall) pickpocketing her date. Shy about $500 dollars Harry stops her hoping to collect.
The chemistry between Harry and Marie begins almost immediately but the night is cut short when Vichy authorities/the Gestapo shoot up the place due to some French opposition. Both Harry and Marie are interrogated but released. The Vichy authorities intend to disrupt any activity that might prove detrimental to German interests. It is about this time that Harry decides it is probably a good time to leave, and decides to help the Free French resistance find a base to continue their opposition.
So it's probably because TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT is more of a adventure film than CASABLANCA is the reason I like it more. That, and the fact that I love the chemistry of Bogart and Bacall. From the moment of Marie's opening line “Anybody got a match?”, it was love at first sight after that. A Hollywood match made in Heaven!
Happy Valentines Day!