Tag Archives: Hoagy Carmichael

1929–2014 ➤ Bacall slouched, she simmered and she gave as good as she got

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Bacall raised the temperature in Hollywood: Bogie used to tell her, “Keep it quiet. If in doubt, don’t answer”

❚ THE ONLY TIME I MET LAUREN BACALL was at London’s Hayward Gallery in autumn 1985 at the show Hockney Paints the Stage. I was minding my own business admiring one huge and brashly colourful stage setting, when that unmistakably smoky voice boomed into my ear: “Aw, that is a perfect match for the curtains in the ocean room back home!” I just about suppressed laughing out loud and we became instant pals for the duration. She did actually like the Hockney, without revealing which colour would match her curtains, and certainly gave the impression of knowing her way round the art world.

My diary notes that she was with her incredibly young-looking daughter Leslie Bogart while mum, aged only 61, sadly looked “much the worse for wear though youthfully kitted in black one-piece romper suit”. Did I even ask one personal question? In the orbit of so dazzling a supernova? You’re kidding. And everyone in that gallery was silently begging me to.

➢ Lauren Bacall, the tough-talking femme fatale who taught Humphrey Bogart how to whistle, has died at the age of 89 – Guardian obituary:

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Betty’s star today on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame

She was so nervous in her first film role, at all of 19 years old, that her head shook; so she tilted her chin down to steady herself, and had to look up from under at the camera. She stood at the bedroom door of ‘a hotel in Martinique in the French West Indies’ – the Warner Bros lot in Hollywood – looked up, and asked Humphrey Bogart for a match. And defined her life… / Continued at Guardian online

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The inimitable Lauren Bacall with Sophie, her papillon, in her apartment at the Dakota, in New York City. Photograph by Annie Leibovitz

➢ At 86 Lauren Bacall looked back on a lucky, if often difficult, life as she gave it straight to Vanity Fair:
You are going to cut me to ribbons, I can tell. What’s the argument for this story? That I am still breathing? I don’t talk about the past,” she proclaims, taking a piece of Bissinger’s and pushing the rest in my direction. Nevertheless, the past is present everywhere in this room and all over the apartment. It is, in fact, never far from her thoughts. She has lived in great comfort in this place since 1961, when she bought it for $48,000. “I called my business manager in California and said, ‘Sell all of my stock’ — what little of it I had — and it’s the only smart financial move I ever made,” she says… / Continued at Vanity Fair online

“Go to work, Slim”

❏ Above, we see 19-year-old Betty at her sexiest in To Have and Have Not, her first movie with Bogie when they fell for each other and married for life, making it rather superior to Casablanca for romance. Watch her minx up this quirky number, How Little We Know, with Hoagy Carmichael tickling the ivories.

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1945: Bogie and Bacall married within a year of meeting. She said the 25-year age gap was was the most fantastic thing in her life

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1944 ➤ “Go to work, Slim” — Lauren Bacall offers a musical treat for Valentine’s Day

❚LAUREN BACALL WAS 19 AND GORGEOUS when she was introduced to tough guy Humphrey Bogart on the set of the war movie Passage to Marseille in 1944. Within the year she was making her Hollywood debut opposite the star in the much under-rated gem, To Have and Have Not. This too was a war movie and it made an overnight star of Bacall. It also brought her love, even though Bogie was 45. Within another year he was divorced and remarried to Bacall. They were separated only by Bogie’s early death in 1957.

Fashion editor Diana Vreeland had discovered Bacall’s photogenic qualities and turned her into one of the hot models in Harper’s Bazaar. Today Bacall still exudes the sensuality we see in her first screen role of Marie “Slim” Browning, the sassy adventuress who sings in the bar where Bogart as Harry “Steve” Morgan hangs out. Her opening line in that silky voice “Does anyone here have a match?” set the screen ablaze. But it was the song in the video clip above, How Little We Know, that announced a star is born. As a Hollywood epithet, Bacall became simply “The Look”.

Bogart, Bacall, To have and Have NotMade during the second world war and wonderfully crafted by director Howard Hawks, this loose adaptation of Ernest Hemingway’s novel is a sensitive morality tale. It centres on Morgan as a hard-boiled American with a past he seeks to forget by captaining a sports-fishing boat on the Caribbean island of Martinique. For the duration of the war this overseas region of France, and an integral part of the Republic, is under Vichy control.

The couple’s real-life romance is electric, and caught on-screen for all to see. It is beautifully nuanced in the playful pet names the pair adopt for each other, when “Slim” as a resistance sympathiser persuades “Steve” to compromise his neutrality and help transport a fugitive on the run from the Nazis.

♫ Maybe you’re meant to be mine.
Maybe I’m only meant to stay in your arms a while
(As others have done) ♫

The clip above has the fine pianist Hoagy Carmichael as Cricket accompanying “Slim” as she sizzles her way through How Little We Know. The film’s music contributes toward a piece of pure entertainment which grows with every viewing. It contains some of the best lines of its day — almost in the Casablanca league — including these:

➢ You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve?

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