Howard Hawks’s advice to the lovelorn

Tuesday 24 November 2009

This is a story from Hawks on Hawks, Joseph McBride’s book of his conversations with the man. Hawks talks of Lauren Bacall, and how before appearing in her first film, To Have and Have Not, she trained her voice for months to deepen it, under his direction.

As well as concerning himself with her training as an actress, Howard Hawks also gave advice on her love life:

We used to have a party out at the house on Saturday night. While she was waiting around, she came out, and when it was all over, she was standing there. I had to give her a ride home. And I said, ‘Can’t you get a ride yourself so that I can get tight and not have to drive you back? She said, ‘I don’t do too well with men.’ I said, ‘What do you do, are you nice to ’em?’ She said, ‘Nice as I can be.’ And I said, Maybe that’s wrong. Why don’t you try not being nice? Why don’t you try to insult them?’ So the next Saturday night she came over kind of like the cat who’s eaten the canary and said, ‘Well, I got a ride home.’ I said, ‘What happened?’ and she said, Oh, I insulted the man.’ ‘What’d you say to him?’ ‘I asked him where he got his tie. He said, “What do you want to know for?” And I said,“So I can tell people not to go there.”’ ‘Oh,’ I said, ‘who’s the man?’ She said, ‘Clark Gable.’

And now for your listening pleasure, here’s John Dog singing Lauren Bacall: