Howard Hawks and Humphrey Bogart made beautiful music together, but with To Have and Have Not, the director had to make room for a third wheel. Lauren Bacall, the love of Bogart’s life, appeared with him for the first of four onscreen pairings, and the result was electric. Bacall’s line, “you know how to whistle, don’t you?” is the stuff of movie immortality, and yes, while Bogie was married at the time, it was clear that these two were made for each other. To Have and Have Not opened today in 1944.
Louis Malle’s My Dinner with Andre sounds like an (ahem) inconceivable bore. Two characters sitting at a table and talking for 111 minutes? You’re kidding, right? That’s all it is and yet it remains more compulsively fascinating than most would-be blockbusters: a verbal debate for the ages covering life, the universe and everything. Wallace Shawn and Andre Gregory hold the screen seemingly without effort, and in their own way, their onscreen chemistry is as fascinating (if less sexually potent) that Bogart and Bacall’s. My Dinner with Andre opened today in 1981
Adam Sandler tends to be more down than up, but even his most ardent critics (and I count myself among them) have to concede that Punch-Drunk Love is a work of genius. Paul Thomas Anderson taps into the angry vein that always lurked below the surface of Sandler’s screen persona, then turns it into a ferocious love story about a put-upon man who finally finds something worth fighting for. It opened today in 2002, and frankly, I’d sit through a thousand of his crappy films just to have this one on the shelf.
We’ll close with a spooky little number called Below that basically reset the classic haunted-house formula on a WWII submarine. As a genre exercise, it’s a minor gem, thanks to stalwart direction from David Twohy and a script co-written by a post-Requiem Darren Aronofsky. With the likes of Olivia Williams, Bruce Greenwood and a pre-star Zack Galifianakis turning in great performances, it’s a terrific treat this Halloween season. It also opened today in 2002.