Classic Scene: The you know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? moment in To Have and Have Not


One of the most referenced movie moments of all time from two the key stars of the forties.

Set in Martinique during World War II (indeed the movie was made in 1944 when the war was still in full effect) where Humphrey Bogart is Harry Morgan, a boatman who has been drawn into working for the resistance much against his principles – he’d much rather be neutral and do what is best for him but events have somewhat conspired against him. He quickly becomes involved with Marie Browning who is also part of the resistance.

The key moment in the film comes when Browning starts to flirt with Morgan saying “You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and blow.” The famous Bacall look, tense and with her chin dropped was all down to the fact that she was so nervous in her film debut (after having been spotted on a magazine cover by director Howard Hawk’s wife Slim.)

Despite the script being co-credited to famed novelist William Faulkner it was actually Jules Furthman who penned the lines. It’s also been said that the Morgan-Browning relationship was heavily based on that of director Hawks and his younger wife – backing this up Browning’s nickname in the film is Slim.

The movie also sparked the beginnings of a legendary relationship, not just off screen but also on, between Bogie and Bacall. After falling in love on set the pair married the next year and appeared, in quick succession, in three other films together – The Big Sleep (1946), Dark Passage (1947) and Key Largo (1948).