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That look, and that voice: Bacall’s best roles

By
From page A12 | August 13, 2014 |

Lauren Bacall had the look — cool and mysterious — and she had the sound, courtesy of that irresistibly low and throaty voice.

“She was sexy, she was saucy, and she projected a sense of intelligence,” says film historian Leonard Maltin. “And amazingly, she was doing all that when she was barely 20 years old.”

Here are 10 key roles in long Bacall’s career, in film and onstage:

_

“TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT” (1944) — Bacall’s film debut, made when she was 19, and of course her first film with Humphrey Bogart. The two fell in love on set. And if that weren’t enough to immortalize the movie, there was this classic line, delivered by Bacall: “You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together and … blow.” Director Howard Hawks wisely mined the chemistry between these two actors.

“THE BIG SLEEP” (1946) — By the time this film noir was made, Bacall and Bogart were married. Hawks also directed this one, an adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s 1939 whodunit. Despite what was seen as a terribly confusing plot, the film capitalized on the public fascination with the screen couple.

“KEY LARGO” (1948) — Also a film noir, and also starring Bogart — along with Edward G. Robinson, Lionel Barrymore and Claire Trevor. The movie, directed by John Huston, was the last of four Bacall did with her husband (the third was “Dark Passage”). Inspired the 1981 song “Key Largo” by Bertie Higgins.

“HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE” (1953) — A lighthearted comedy that teamed Bacall with Marilyn Monroe and Betty Grable; the actresses played models aiming to land rich husbands. Also a great one for quotes. “You don’t think he’s a little old?” Bacall’s character, Schatze Page, is asked. “Wealthy men are never old,” she replies.

“DESIGNING WOMAN” (1957) — Another romantic comedy, this time with Bacall starring opposite Gregory Peck. Bacall played a fashion designer, Peck her sportswriter husband. The film did well, but Bacall was going through personal turmoil; Bogart died of cancer several months before the film’s release.

“APPLAUSE” (1970) — Appearing on Broadway, Bacall won a best-actress Tony for her performance as Margo Channing in this musical, based of course on the 1950 Bette Davis film “All About Eve.”

“MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS” (1974) — An older Bacall played a brash, widowed American socialite in this popular Agatha Christie adaptation in which everyone was a suspect.

“WOMAN OF THE YEAR” (1981) — Bacall won her second Tony in this John Kander and Fred Ebb musical, also based on a classic film: the 1942 movie of the same name starring Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

“THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES” (1996) — Bacall played Barbra Streisand’s vain, obnoxious mother — and scored an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress.

“DOGVILLE” (2003) — Bacall starred with Nicole Kidman in this Danish drama by Lars von Trier about a young woman (Kidman) hiding out in a small town in Depression-era Colorado.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

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