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#QueerQuote: “You Know How to Whistle, Don’t You, Steve? You Just Put Your Lips Together and Blow.” – To Have And Have Not (1944)

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From Warner Bros , via YouTube

The racy double entendre wasn’t penned by the credited screenwriters, Jules Furthman and William Faulkner, but by the director, Howard Hawks, who came up with the line at Lauren Bacall’s screen-test. She was so good delivering it, Hawks asked Faulkner to pencil it into the shooting script.

To Have And Have Not stars Humphrey Bogart, Walter Brennan and Bacall in her film debut.

Bacall was just a 19-year-old model at the time. She appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar, and was noticed by Hawks’ wife, Nancy “Slim” Keith, who showed the cover to her husband. Hawks brought Bacall in Hollywood, gave her that screen-test and signed her for the role. In the film, Harry (Bogart) calls her by the nickname “Slim”, and she calls him “Steve”, the nicknames used between Keith and Hawks.

After filming began, a romance developed between Bogart and Bacall, despite Hawks’ disapproval. Not only was Bogart married but, at 45-year-old, he was more than twice Bacall’s age. The romance eventually led to Bogart divorcing Mayo Methot, his third wife. He and Bacall got married and remained married until Bogart’s death in 1957.

Hawks expanded Bacall’s part to take advantage of the Bogart-Bacall chemistry. Hawks recognized the star-making potential of the film for Bacall. He emphasized her role and downplayed the character Hélène de Bursac, played by Dolores Moran, the film’s other female lead. Hawks and Moran had their own affair during production.

This quote is ranked at #34 on American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list. I had it as my outgoing message on my answering machine in the 1990s. I ended up changing it after I received too many complaints that it was salacious. Do you remember answering machines?


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