As so often, no one put it better than Papa. Here is Ernest Hemingway talking of all the movies made from his novels and short stories:
‘The only two I could sit through were The Killers and To Have and Have Not — I guess Ava Gardner and Lauren Bacall had a lot to do with it.’
Mr S can’t say fairer than that of Lauren Bacall, who has died at the age of 89.
Bacall was, however, rather more than a husky voice and a sultry look. In 1981 she starred in The Fan, in which she played a middle-aged film star idolised by a demented fan (played by Douglas Breem) who mutilates or kills those close to the object of his desire. But the ageing star’s beauty has faded, and bears only passing resemblance to the youthful image that captivates the fan. Peter Ackroyd reviewed the film for The Spectator. Here is what he wrote of Bacall:
‘When we first see her she is tired and lined, like a goddess who, back in the relative safety of Olympus, takes off her fillets of gold and her bracelets of ivory. It does not take courage to be old but, for an actress, it takes a great deal of courage to look old; and Miss Bacall has, as it were, thrown caution to the winds.’
Mr S remembers seeing Lauren Bacall in New York a few years ago. Boy did she look old; but, boy was she magnificent. She still exuded the strength of character for which she was famous as a young woman. A true great.
More Spectator for less. Subscribe and receive 12 issues delivered for just £12, with full web and app access. Join us.