Third time still lucky!
The Gun Runners, It puzzles me why producer Clarence Greene and Seven Arts thought the public would go for yet another re-telling of Hemingway’s “To Have and Have Not” when both the Bogart-Bacall and Garfield-Neal versions are so widely regarded as definitive. But here it is, and I must admit that Mainwaring and Monash have added a few more suspenseful wrinkles to the screenplay and that Audie Murphy does surprisingly well by the Bogart-Garfield role. The other players are equally adept, particularly Eddie Albert as the chillingly convincing heavy and the lovely Gita Hall (in the first of only two movies, alas). And it’s always good to see players like Richard Jaeckel, Herb Vigran and Jack Elam in roles that allow them to display their talents.
Beautifully photographed by Hal Mohr on actual Key West locations, the movie also gives director Don Siegel some splendid action opportunities which he handles in his usual dramatic style, although the climax itself seems somewhat truncated by comparison with the preceding versions.
Deserves More Recognition
A remake of “To Have and Have Not” based on the Hemingway short story. The plot is reset to the early days of the Cuban revolution. A charter boat skipper (Audie Murphy) gets entangled in gunrunning scheme to get money to pay off debts.
Director Don Siegel may be the third person to tackle this tale, but he is not working fro ma dry well. By updating the story to involve the Cuban Revolution (before its success), the film takes on new life and now works as not only a great story but something of a historical document. Assisting Cuban rebels in 1958 may have had a very different sense at the time than it does today after fifty-plus years of Castro.
This was the first feature from the fledgling Seven Arts Productions, before they went on to make “The Misfits” (1961), “Lolita” (1962), and several others, including a large number of co-productions with Hammer films.