Saturday, May 10, 2008

Movie Moments, 6: Bacall Lights Up Bogey

I was looking for an entirely different moment from To Have and Have Not (1944), but I kept coming across all these sexy cigarette moments instead.

The movies lost a whole language of sexual attraction when they lost smoking. (Filthy habit. I'm just saying.)

In a reversal of the usual pattern, Lauren Bacall (Marie) lights a cigarette for Humphrey Bogart (Harry), reflecting director Howard Hawks' statement, "I think it's fun to have a woman dominant..."

She lights his.

And she lights her own.

If I had to choose, for sexy romance I'd take To Have and Have Not over Casablanca, because while Casablanca has the better, more sweeping story, To Have has the better male/female story, by a million miles.

Lauren Bacall's Marie--whom Harry calls "Slim"--would never tell "Steve"--as she calls Harry--to do the thinking for both of them, like Isla (Ingrid Bergman) tells Rick (Bogart).
Ha! The very idea. If she had, she'd still be on Martinique.

No, the relationship that develops with any interest in Casablanca is the one between Rick and Louis (Claude Rains), and fittingly they are the ones who go off together at the end.

Then there's Hoagy Carmichael's piano player Cricket (right), who is a much more intriguing character than Casablanca's Sam, meaning no disrespect to Dooley Wilson.
You wonder about the guy's backstory.

Carmichael, famous for hits such as "Stardust" and "Georgia on My Mind," also wrote "How Little We Know," which Bacall sings in the film.

Oh, so the moment I was looking for concerned Marie and Helene (Dolores Moran, left), the wife of Paul, a member of the French Resistance Harry is helping (for money).

Paul has been shot, and Harry, assisted by Marie, is removing the bullet. Helene, who has been making cute with Harry, faints when Harry starts cutting into her husband.
In doing so, she spills an open can of ether.
Pretty soon, Harry starts getting faint himself from the ether fumes, and he asks Marie to fan them away.

She does so, and also fans the fumes a couple times toward Helene lying passed out on the floor.

Harry doesn't see her do this, being taken up with surgery, so this throw-away moment is a little exchange between the director, the actress and us. It gives us the sweet feeling of being in on a secret.
Not that it's much of a secret: Bacall has already lit Bogey's cigarette by now.

Slim and Steve each give as good as they get. After all, he lights her cigarette too.


bink said...

And of course the attraction in To Have and Have Not is 100% real. This is Bacall's first film and the one she met Bogart on. By all accounts they fell in love on this film, followed by a happy marriage up until his death.

fresca said...

Howard Hawks said that Bogart and Bacall were a breeze to work with on this movie because two people falling in love are generally not that hard to be around.

I just watched the movie again last night, and maybe it's because I'm middle-aged, but the way he (Bogart) looks at Bacall moved me more than her childlike (though very real) gazes of love, because his look carries the weight of an aging person who has found some wonderous hopeful thing again.