Siren Song – Ladies of Film Noir, Part 3: Lauren Bacall in The Big Sleep (1946)

Unlike most of the other women I’ll be posting about in this blog series, Lauren Bacall’s character in The Big Sleep (1946, dir. Howard Hawks) is not a singer by profession. Her performance of “And Her Tears Flowed Like Wine” is part of a get-together with friends, an impromptu show that gives her character, Vivian Rutledge, a chance to interact with private detective Philip Marlowe (Humphrey Bogart). They don’t talk in this scene, but the exchange of gazes, smiles and physical gestures between them communicates their attraction to one another and the superiority of Bacall to the other woman (Lorraine Miller) who tries to grab Bogart’s attention. The clip is a great example of the chemistry between Bogart and Bacall, which was as electric on the screen as it was off of it. And like most film noir narratives, the story being told in the song is one of a violent, troubled relationship, complete with lyrical lingo describing a woman as a “tomato.”

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