Lauren Bacall passed away today at the age of 89.
She was one the last of the greats of Old Hollywood.
In a time when female roles were either the vixen or the innocent damsel in distress, Ms. Bacall was the opposite. Smart and sexy, she defied the stereotypes of what it was to be not just a woman, but to be a woman in the golden age of Hollywood.
She was the only child of Romanian Jewish immigrants. Despite the whitewashing of ethnicity that was extremely common in those days, Bacall never forgot where she came from.
Her marriage to Humphrey Bogart was legendary. Despite the 25 years age difference, their 11 year marriage produced three films and two children.
My favorite Lauren Bacall movie is naturally her first, To Have And Have Not. She and Bogart have this magnetic, electric chemistry. Their chemistry is sexual without any clothing being shed.
Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, Humphrey Bogey And Lauren Bacall, Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.
Every era has it’s favorite pairings. Actors who work on several projects over the years and just work on screen together in their respective characters.
In the 90’s rom com’s were defined by one movie couple: Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan.
They made three movies together. The third, You’ve Got Mail , premiered in 1998.
At the dawn of the internet age, Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) and Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) are rivals in the book selling business. She owns a small, independent book shop. He works in the family business, owning Fox Books, a huge Barnes and Noble like chain bookstore. They are also falling in love over the internet. Joe finds out who his internet pen pal is in in real life. He tries to win her over, but Kathleen still does not know that her internet pen pal and her business rival are one and the same.
Written and directed by the late rom com queen, Nora Ephron, You’ve Got Mail is not as cliche or as sappy and rom com movies have become since then. It’s got a zing, a life, an twist that is fun while still retaining the standards of a romantic comedy. And of course, the subtle nod to Pride and Prejudice never hurts.
Some movies were meant to be forgettable and are a waste of the movie-goers time. But there are some that are classic movies and should be viewed over and over again.
I would like to share three of my favorite classic Hollywood movies and explain why these are worth watching time and again.
To Have and Have Not
This is one of my favorite movies from the 1940’s. It’s pretty typical World War II movie, where the Allies are the heroes and the Nazis are the villains. The two leads, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall have this magnetic, sexual chemistry. It’s no wonder they were married for twelve years. This movie is a perfect example of creating sexual chemistry between characters without resorting to removing of clothes.
His Girl Friday
Now this is how a rom-com and a office comedy should be. Cary Grant is the editor of a newspaper. Rosalind Russell is his ex wife and ex-employee. She is getting married again and Cary Grant’s character is looking to find a way to keep her on the paper and in his life. If nothing else, just watch the opening scene. An interesting aspect of this movie is that it was based upon a play, in which Rosalind Russell’s character was originally a man and changed to a female, which poses an interesting feminist twist, twenty years before the second wave of the feminist movement.
To Be or Not To Be
This movie is perfection. This movie should be required viewing for every filmmaker. Carole Lombard and Jack Benny are the lead performers in Polish theatrical troupe during World War II. They indirectly join the war when they work with a soldier to track down a German spy. Like His Girl Friday, I highly recommend to watch the opening scene if you don’t see the entire movie. The comedy timing is perfect, Lombard is one of the greatest actresses and comedienne’s of her era. The irony of this movie is that Jack Benny (born Benjamin Kubelsky) was Jewish. It takes balls to make a movie of this type during this period with a Jewish leading man. There is also a re-boot, made in the early 1980’s by Mel Brooks. As much as I love the re-boot, which is most certainly a Mel Brooks movie, the original just stands the test of time.