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Classically Speaking:
Promoting Classic Movies in a Jaded World!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Lauren Bacall
LAUREN BACALL (1924-2014), born Betty Joan Perske

"Lauren Bacall, She's Got The Look"

Known for her sultry look, distinctive husky voice, and cat-like green eyes, Lauren Bacall was one of the most dazzling luminaries ever to grace the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Watching Lauren Bacall in films, I can't help but think of Helen of Troy, of whom thousands died for.  She is simply breathtaking to watch.

Lauren Bacall once said, "We live in an age of mediocrity. Stars today are not the same stature as Bogie, James Cagney, Spencer Tracy, Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart."  I have to agree.  People don't flock to the cinema every week like they did when these greats were on the silver screen.  Lauren Bacall was one of the greats.

My first exposure to this fine actress was attending a Bogie/Bacall marathon at a extremely small cinema in Berkeley, California in 1980.  I stayed up all night to watch Key Largo, Dark Passage, The Big Sleep, and To Have and Have Not, only to find no buses running when the theater closed.  Stumbling like a drunk, laughing hysterically, and begging my friend to carry me, who refused, I trudged up and down hills for miles.  Yet, if the opportunity arose to revisit that point in time, when I was twenty, I'd not change a thing.  That marathon was worth walking those seven miles.

I'll never forget seeing Lauren Bacall for the first time in Key Largo.  There I was, on the edge of my seat, terrified, as she tried to fight off Edward G. Robinson.  Then that sleazy man kissed her, Ew!, smiling afterward, calling her a wild cat.  How that scene still gives me the creeps!

Dark Passage, Wow!  The kisses between Bogart and Bacall alone were worth seeing.  When Bacall took the bandages off Bogie's face, she was so gentle.  I can't help but think now of how she described her husband Humphrey Bogart, as this gentle soul.  I think they were both gentle with one another.  How sad it was that he had died of cancer, while only in his fifties, after just eleven years of marriage.

It watching Bogie and Bacall in The Big Sleep that got me reading Raymond Chandler novels to get more story, because I wanted that movie to last forever. When Bogie kissed Bacall, she said, "I like that.  I'd like more."  I wanted more too.  I just couldn't get enough of those two.

To Have and Have Not has one of the most beloved scenes in the history of the classic movies, which I call the "Whistle Scene."  Bacall says, "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."  It's Bogie's reaction to these lines that I love.  Who wouldn't be affected by what she said.  Lauren Bacall had The Look that made one's mind follow her out of a room.

I went on, from that marathon at that tiny theater, to watch every Lauren Bacall film that aired on television, not all of them in the Film Noir genre.  I found that I also loved her romantic comedies.  In How to Marry a Millionaire, Betty Grable said to Marilyn Monroe, "Really Pola, I think she's the most intelligent person I guess I ever met."  That's what I thought of Lauren Bacall.  She was exactly the type of woman I wanted to be, beautiful, confident, sexy, and intelligent.

Lauren Bacall may have been nicknamed The Look, but truth be told, it was the rest of us doing all the looking.  Why not take a look at the films recommended here for a starter.  No one should not know who the lovely Lauren Bacall is. ~ClassicLiz

Dark Passage (1947)

Haven't you seen Dark Passage (1947)?

Watch this and then see these other four films.

Key Largo (1948)
Murder on the Orient Express (1974)
How to Marry a Millionaire (1953)
To Have and Have Not (1944)

*Recommendations contributed by: "Josette W." Date: Tues, Nov 20 2001 / 23:02:21 PST
"Lauren Bacall, She's Got the Look" contributed by: ClassicLiz / "Elizabeth Van Cleve Randolph" Date: Wed, Aug 13 2014 / 4:53:21 PDT

Academy Awards®
© A.M.P.A.S.®
1996 Nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role: THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES