The death of Lauren Bacall today, 13 August, the last of the strong, black and white women of Hollywood, before the infantilism of Doris Day and Marilyn Mobnroe in the fifties, marks the end of era of strong women in Hollywood.
Where are the Lauren Bacalls, the Marlene Dietrichs, the Betty Grables, or the Katherine Hepburns of today’s silver screen?
I’m not saying there have been no great actresses since The Big Sleep, it’s just that the role models are now celebrated for their looks and their youth, not for their maturity and strength.
Lauren Bacall was only 21 when she played opposite Bogart in “The Big Sleep”, but she sounds like a mature woman of 35. She fences on equal terms with Bogie, and is the last of a line of strong women like Dietrich and Katherine Hepburn. After the war, women had served their purpose in the munition factories and on the farms, and needed to be put back in their place, which was the kitchen or the bedroom, so we were given Monroe, Bardot and Doris Day.