Lauren Bacall: To Have And Have Not (1944)
‘You know how to whistle don’t you? You just put you’re lips together, and blow’
Famous for her sultry looks and husky voice, its none other than screen starlet Lauren Bacall. To Have or Have Not (1944) is Bacall at her most stylish. In her first big film role and at a mere nineteen years of age, To Have and Have Not seemed a pretty daunting task. Especially when starring opposite the already established screen legend Humphrey Bogart. Bacall has the confidence and sexual presence of a woman well beyond her years and went on to become a top choice for a Hollywood leading lady. Their chemistry is dynamite, both on screen and off. Bogart and Bacall actually ended up getting married, having children and were together until the day he died. They were one of the most famous couples in Hollywood, dubbed ‘Betty and Bogie’.
Directed by Howard Hawkes, the film is set in Fort de France, Martinique where Boghart plays a fishing boat Captain named Harry (Bacall nicknames him Steve). He is asked to smuggle some people onto the island where he begins a romance with a sexy lounge singer he calls ‘Slim‘, played by Bacall. Basically, its romance-war-adventure film, a popular genre at this time, with lots of cigarette smoke, intense conversations and long, lingering looks. Hawks was obviously trying to capitalize and regenerate the success that was had with Bogie in Casablanca (Michael Curtiz 1942).
This film does not have an extravagant wardrobe, yet it showcases some seriously stylish suits and fitted dresses. The costume design really shows off Bacall’s slender frame and petite waist. We first see her in this amazing tailored houndstooth suit (below & cover photo), with her hair set in soft and tidy waves.
In this film, Bacall’s famous ‘look’ was invented. She kept her chin down and stared straight straight up at you. So seductive, yet apparently accidental. She only did so because she was intimidated by Bogart and did not know how to look at him. In another scene, she wears a long pin-stripe dress that features a soft lapel and contrasting belt (below). As with her suit, the shoulders are lightly padded and pointed, to portray a more angular frame. In terms or these dresses,there are some great pieces for sale on Etsy if you are looking for a real vintage piece.
Next great outfit: the dress adjoined by a hoop, baring her midriff (below). You would be forgiven for thinking that it was Julia Roberts who was responsible for this style of dress in Pretty Woman (1990). Well, Bacall got there first, just in a gown version and minus the thigh-high hooker boots. This dress is the biggest style statement of the entire film, with the long sleeves and of course angular shoulder pads. This is the type of dress that stays etched in the viewer’s mind for years to come, a truly beautiful design.
Her hair in the film was how Bacall insisted she wear it, which was with “The wave … on the right side—starting to curve at the corner of my eyebrow and ending, sloping downward, at my cheekbone.” This became her trademark look, and was how she always wore her hair. Below is a fantastic tutorial by Daily Mix from their YouTube channel. It’s one of the best 1940’s hair tutorials and really seems to capture the way in which Lauren Bacall had her hair in this film. Be sure to check out their You Tube channel!
If you are a huge Lauren Bacall fan, there is a really interesting interview with her by Vanity Fair from 2011 which you can read here. It explains all about her marriage to Bogie and the choices she made in her career.