Main      Site Guide    

Site Journal

By Samuel Stoddard


This page works best when you participate. Send email.


August 14, 2014

Think of any other actress who had a greater first scene on the silver screen than Lauren Bacall's in To Have and Have Not. The very first time any moviegoing audience ever saw her was opposite Humphrey Bogart, an established superstar and one of the all-time greatest actors ever, and there she was, not just holding her own against him but pretty much dominating him. That great "You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?" exchange is unforgettable. She delivers it like she'd been in movies for years, but she hadn't. Audiences, as I say, were just meeting her for the very first time.

I really can't think of any other actor or actress whose inaugural scene is so great. Some came in on amazing movies: think Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, another case of a fresh face going up against an established great actor and star and coming off like a veteran. But in that case it's the movie as a whole that is the heralding announcement. I don't even remember her first scene in it.

I loved Bacall like almost nobody else -- in her 1940s films in particular, but the cool thing about her is she was still around and still working. That always blew my mind, because the start of her career was three or four generations ago, and so many of her contemporaries were dead a generation before I was even born (like Bogart himself). Having a living connection to the past like that was trippy and cool.

But we lost another one of those last links, and the past slips ever further away.

Back to the current Site Journal page.
Back to the RinkWorks home page.