By Michael Grei
Lauren Bacall (1924-2014),Here is a list of what I consider her best work in Film.
1. To Have and Have Not
2. Key Largo
3. Young Man With A Horn
4. How To Marry A millionaire
5. Written on the Wind
6. Murder on the Orient Express
7. The Big Sleep
8. The Shootist
Simultaneously feminine and tomboyish, Lauren Bacall embodied an intense female ambiguity – an ambiguity about what it meant to be a woman — that bubbled under the surface of 1940s Hollywood, and 1940s America. No doubt it seems like a stretch, in contemporary terms, to describe Bacall as a feminist icon. She first rose to fame as a teenage glamour girl attached to a famous actor 25 years her senior. So far as I know, she took no role in the women’s movement and made no public statements attaching herself to feminist causes. During her 12-year marriage to Humphrey Bogart, Bacall put their relationship ahead of her career (as women were uniformly expected to do), which no doubt cost her many starring roles and millions of dollars.
Nonetheless, by delivering a message in the coded language of movie stardom, Lauren Bacall unmistakably played a role in the feminist revolution. She was a star so long ago that her real significance – the combination of explosive ingredients she carried with her on screen – is in danger of being totally invisible to contemporary viewers. I mean her classic period of stardom, of course; after long periods of relative inactivity, Bacall enjoyed an entire second career in her 60s, 70s and 80s, which may well be how most people know her today. Her only Oscar-nominated role, bizarrely enough, came as Barbra Streisand’s horrific mother in the 1996 rom-com “The Mirror Has Two Faces.” She got punched out in a 2006 episode of “The Sopranos,” acted in two Lars von Trier films (“Dogville” and “Manderlay”) and voiced an evil witch in the English-language version of Hayao Miyazaki’s “Howl’s Moving Castle.” But all those roles came in the peculiar capacity of living legend, a charismatic personage whose true meaning is lost to us. In the case of Lauren Bacall, who was born in Brooklyn in 1924 as Betty Joan Perske, the daughter of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Romania, that meaning lies half-buried in the cultural past.