“If you want anything, just whistle.” Lauren Becall
“You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve?. You just put your lips together and blow.” And so began one of the greatest love stories of Hollywood. Bogie and Becall. The seasoned actor and the novice. The crusty tough guy and the sexy dame able to hold her own in a man’s world. Sexy, sharp and quick-witted Becall, or Betty to her friends, was a no nonsense kind of gal who spoke her mind and delivered razor sharp one liners both on and off screen. Yes when they met he was a married man and 25 years her senior, and yes once they married her fledgling career took a back step, and yes there has been a lot of speculation about their relationship especially in more recent years as various worms appeared from out of the woodwork to weaken, even topple, their iconic pairing. And let’s face I am sure that all was not always plain sailing, hell we know she hated boats and got seasick while Bogie loved nothing more sailing. Becall herself joked that her only, or at least closest, rival for his affections was Santana his 55 foot sailing yacht he bought in 1945. So yes I am sure theirs was a relationship that like the swells of the ocean had many ups and downs. Becall has credited Bogie with introducing her to alcohol, to his famous friends and a lifestyle very removed from her sheltered upbringing. It didn’t take Becall long to adjust to her new surroundings and she and Bogie were the founding members of the original ‘Rat Pack’. In fact it was Becall who coined the term when she awoke one morning to find Bogie and friends strewn about the house after a night’s drinking and called them a “pack of rats.” As glamourous a lifestyle as this may seem it takes its toll on relationships and I’m sure alcohol fuelled some of their infamous bust ups. But through it all I think they had something, to call it a deep bond seems too flippant,but whatever it was it is this that makes us happy to view them in all their mythic glory. We see snatches of it when she unexpectedly kisses the bemused and slightly hapless Harry “Steve” Morgan in To Have and Have Not. We see it in greater clarity when she next kisses him but this time he knows what’s coming so he responds causing her to wryly comment, “It’s even better when you help.” Ans then I suppose we see it in all its naked raw glory when she utters the now famous whistle line. And it is in that moment that we know that the fates of these two people is forever entwined ,so it comes as no surprise that when he died she made sure the gold whistle from a charm bracelet he had once again her was buried with him. Inscribed on the whistle were the words, “If you want anything, just whistle” which seems a most fitting request for two characters such as were Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Becall. Becall died just a few days ago and I’m sure she and Bogie have had some fun catching up, and that their ‘beautiful friendship’ will continue from where it left of.