Professor Firstdraft’s GOODTIME SCRIPTORIUM

Dispatches from the far reaches of the WGF.

Line Readings: Lauren Bacall


The partnership between writer and actor is like no other relationship in the arts. Writers craft words on the page, and actors bring those words forth into the real world, embedding them in our memory. Writers give actors the raw material for performance, and actors bring their interpretations and experience to those words in ways their writers may never have expected. From time to time on this blog, we’ll honor those actors, our partners in artistic endeavor, with collections of the words and pages that they helped make famous.

There’s no question that Lauren Bacall had a way with words herself, but many of the coolest things we remember her saying come from her films. Those films ranged from the noir classics she shared with Humphrey Bogart (TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT, DARK PASSAGE, THE BIG SLEEP and KEY LARGO) to lighter dramas and comedic roles in HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE, WOMAN’S WORLD and DESIGNING WOMAN. Later in life she took roles in pop classics like MISERY and the more experimental DOGVILLE, and even lent her voice to the American cut of Hayao Miyazaki’s HAURU NO UGOKU SHIRO – known in the English-speaking world as HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE.

Here’s a small selection of just a few of the lines Lauren Bacall helped make famous, as embodied in drafts and published scripts from our library and archive.

(And before you mention it: Sadly – and, frankly, surprisingly – we don’t have a copy of TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT in our library. So her most famous line – “Put your lips together and blow” –  isn’t represented here. But read on! There’s good stuff ahead!)

Putting voice to a brilliant description of private detectives in THE BIG SLEEP (Screenplay By William Faulkner and Leigh Brackett and Jules Furthman, based on the Raymond Chandler novel, published shooting script):


Giving us the motivation for the movie’s title in HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE (Screenplay By Nunnally Johnson, based on the plays THE GREEKS HAD A WORD FOR IT by Zoe Akins and LOCO by Dale Eunson and Katherine Albert, revised final draft, 1953):

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Telling Humphrey Bogart’s Frank McCloud about her history in our beautiful 1948 KEY LARGO manuscript (Screenplay by Richard Brooks and John Huston, based on the play by Maxwell Anderson, 1948 revised draft from the Richard Brooks collection):

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And did I mention that our copy of KEY LARGO is absolutely beautiful?


And finally, this introductory scene between Bacall and Paul Newman’s title character in HARPER (Screenplay By William Goldman, based on the novel THE MOVING TARGET by Ross MacDonald – 1965 final draft, though Newman’s character is called “Archer,” in keeping with the P.I.’s name in the novel):

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Rest in peace, Lauren. Those words wouldn’t have been the same without you.