Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Am I Blue?

"You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips together and... blow." Marie (Slim) Browning (Lauren Bacall), To Have and Have Not, (1944).

Noting the passing of film great Lauren Bacall.

For those of us whose birthdays sprinkle the 50s, Ms. Bacall's sultry voice, lithe outline and suggestive dialogue began an awakening that transcended pop culture. She was hot.

She burst onto the big screen as Humphrey Bogart's love interest in To Have and Have Not. At nineteen she played opposite Bogey, Hogie Carmichael and Walter Brennan and stole the show - the ingenue whose sexuality overshadowed the older, established (by twenty-five years) Bogart. She began an affair with him during the shooting of that film, and married him shortly thereafter. He gave her a gold whistle that she wore around her neck, until he died holding her hand in 1957.

Years later she played Ron Howard's mother opposite John Wayne in his last movie, The Shootist. In the 1990's she invigorated the role of Margaret Kramer, wife of former president Russell Kramer (Jack Lemmon). Kramer commented that something was a "kick in the balls." Apologizing to her, she replied tartly "Please, I'm a politician's wife. I have a set of my own."

No one.... No one.... Could have delivered that line authentically, except for Betty Joan Perske, born in the Bronx in 1924 and who set a standard for women who didn't take any shit from anyone.

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