Monday, September 11, 2006

Seeing Bacall in Manhattan

by Mildred Goldfarb
ALAP correspondent

NEW YORK CITY -- There was an entire row of seats taped off at the Academy Theatre at Lighthouse International. One said Lauren Bacall, one said Robert Osborne, a few said Bacall guests a few said Osborne guests -- it was the royal row of the screening and when she came in, the audience erupted into applause.

She has a natural grace and charisma about her that you just cannot deny. Even at 82 years old, her eyes -- when they land on you, it's something special.
Even though Marilyn Monroe is on the poster for the movie on IMDb, How to Marry a Millionaire belongs to Bacall. She hatches the plan and leads her two dimwitted co-stars in the right direction and has almost every funny line. But for every inch of humor, she also has the most heartfelt moments in the movie -- where even she can't deny that there's something more out there. She's truly a joy to watch on screen.
After a brief restroom break, she joined robert osborne on stage to discuss the film, her career and take questions from the audience. Osborne mentioned that betty grable was getting older by the time this film was made -- she was a whopping 36, which in that day meant you had one foot in the cinematic grave. Bacall talked about Marilyn and how she was always late to set -- not because she was a diva, but because she was frightened. They spoke briefly of how this was the first movie shot in Cinemascope. (It was not the first released on Cinemascope though, which she was quick to mention. Apparently Fox execs pushed The Robe ahead because it was a passion project of the studio, but Millionaire was the true pioneer.) Cinemascope did nothing for your figure, she said. "Have you ever been compressed?" she asked the audience.
She mentioned once or twice that she is currently unemployed. She talked about how people back then and even now do not take her seriously as an actress. Millionaire was her first color film and her first comedy and she spoke about how she was angry she had to screen test for it, when she was the one who pitched the movie to Fox in the first place (after a little urging from George Cukor).
She spoke fondly of her friends and her late husband Humphrey Bogart, how much she enjoyed working with Grable and Monroe as well as later with Gregory Peck. Designing Woman was a favorite of hers, as well as the musical version of Woman of the Year, which brought her to talking about the world of Broadway. She was especially proud of Cactus Flower; she mentioned that the applause helped give her the "highest" moment in her career.
When asked what advice she would pass on to aspiring actors, she replied: "Work on the stage in the theatre and learn your craft. Take every bit part you get and just keep doing it. If you're in it for a parking spot, or your name in lights, you might as well just go home now."

Related post: Linda & Lauren and the dearth of dangerous women

1 comment:

is that so wrong? said...

Last October I spotted Lauren Bacall in the produce section of Whole Foods at Columbus Circle. It appeared that she had roped a Whole Foods employee into helping her select roma tomatoes.