This unique moment in time, a panel titled “In Love, in the Movies," with Lauren Bacall, James Harvey, Paul Rudnick, and Jennifer Westfeldt, moderated by Nora Ephron was captured in Tribeca Talks, a collection of transcripts from the first Tribeca Film Festival. Here are some of our favorite Bacall moments from the transcripts of this remarkable and one-of-a-kind event.
It’s as though that was the only life you had, when people are always talking about Bogie and Bacall, you know...
Lauren Bacall opens the discussion with her most famous line
Lauren Bacall: Are you ready? [Laughter] You know you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything. You don’t have to do anything. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? [Laughter] You just put your lips together, and blow.
Nora Ephron: And everything from here on will be down hill. [Laughter]
Lauren Bacall On Her Own Early Obsession With Romantic Films
Lauren Bacall: Before I ever went out to California, I used to cut school to see everything that Bette Davis was in. I’d sit in the movie house. And over, and over, I would watch Dark Victory (1939). And I would watch Jezebel (1938). And she [Bette Davis] was so brave. And she just did everything right, and Hank Fonda of course was in Jezebel. And when she wore the red dress, and she wasn’t supposed to wear the red dress, and he left her after that. I tell you, she was broken hearted, and I was broken hearted. I always had her as kind of a vision. And I never thought I'd be in movies anyway. But then of course, when I met my hero [Humphrey Bogart], that was not a disappointment. But it was downhill after that. You know, when you’re that lucky at nineteen, it’s pretty hard to stay up there, and find another love of your life.
"I think there’s so little emotion now in the world we live in."
Lauren Bacall, Nora Ephron, and James Harvey on the Expectations of Romantic Movies
Nora Ephron: Do you think people bring more baggage to movies about love than they do to other movies? I think one of the interesting things about movies is that-- and you certainly know this when you make them-- you have a shot at becoming an autobiography for people in a way that you… Find something out. It’s one of the things that makes it fun to make them. But it’s also one of the things that made this place almost full today-- people really do have some expectations that they don’t have with other movies. Would anyone like to…
James Harvey: Well I think romantic movies in a way are the most magical, whether you bring baggage to the movies or not. It’s the whole experience of movies. You know, the light and the dark and the magnificent, extraordinary people, and the whole… I mean we all grew up watching them and living in them to some degree. And I think that is what makes the romantic movie. Whether it’s personal or not, we think of movies as being associated with our romantic lives, our romantic dreams. And they are of course, a kind of dream experience. And then of course the effect of those great people on the screen, especially from Lauren’s era, is just extraordinary.
Lauren Bacall: Oh. [Laughter]
James Harvey: And those times in the movies, we never get over that.
Lauren Bacall: Well it’s emotional I think.
James Harvey: Yeah
Lauren Bacall: It’s emotional. And I think there’s so little emotion now in the world we live in.
I mean, the shadow of Bogie will follow me to my grave.
Lauren Bacall on Being Half of One of Hollywood's Most Beloved Couples
Nora Ephron: I assume that at many points in your life, people have loaded the baggage of romantic icon onto you…
Lauren Bacall: Oh, yeah…
Nora Ephron: Is it a terrible burden?
Lauren Bacall: I wouldn’t have traded it for anything. But it is a burden in that it negates the rest of your life. It’s as though that was the only life you had, when people are always talking about Bogie and Bacall, you know…. It’s flattering if you’re in somebody’s head as a certain kind of person that connected with another one. I mean the shadow of Bogie will follow me to my grave. It just is one of those things. And there’s no way to get away from it. And I don’t really want to get away from it, except that I was married to another man, who also was not bad [Laughter] So it makes it very tough. And then also, you have that thing where you want to have your own identity. I got that in the theater, really, more than anywhere else.
Lauren Bacall on Cinematic Opposites Attracting
Lauren Bacall: In Designing Woman for example, when Gregory Peck was a sports writer, and the character I played was a fashion designer, [our characters came from] two completely opposing worlds and to finally have them come together was what the story was all about. And it was funny. I think that makes you, as an audience, kind of long for something like that. You sit in the darkened theater, and you think, “Oh wouldn’t it be great if that happened, if I met somebody who was completely in another walk of life, another profession, and we met…” and you act everything out in your head. I think that’s a natural obstacle of the two different worlds, which I think is always interesting.
Lauren Bacall on what contemporary movies can learn from old Hollywood
Lauren Bacall: I’d just like to add that I think that the importance of the earlier movies that people still seem to miss, is when they were about relationships, human relationships. As opposed to, I’m not going to knock Star Wars, but as opposed to mechanical things, and shoot-em-ups, and everything. I think the relationships are what we have to get back to.