Wednesday, 13 August 2014

You know how to whistle, don't you?

One of the most famous lines in cinema occurs in To Have and Have Not when Shimon Peres says to Humphrey Bogart, 'You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve?  You just put your lips together and ... blow'.

You know how to whistle, don't you, Steve? You just put your lips
together and... blow.
Well, actually those lines were not spoken by Shimon Peres, the recent president of Israel.  They were spoken by his cousin Lauren Bacall - a relationship I discovered just today, the day after her death.  Or at least Bacall said that Peres was her cousin.  Peres is not so sure, though he does say that they were from the same family - she was born in New York as Betty Joan Perske to a Romanian Jewish mother and an American-born father whose parents were from Poland, while Peres, whose name at birth was Szymon Perski, was born to Jewish parents in what was then Poland and is now Belarus.

Peres describes his first meeting with Bacall here (free registration). 

And if you would like to see Lauren Bacall saying that famous line to Humphrey Bogart, click here.

To Have and Have Not was Lauren Bacall's first film and it was there that she met and fell in love with Humphrey Bogart.  But the film and her love for Bogart and the famous line might not have happened at all had Howard Hawks, the director and producer of the film, who was notoriously antisemitic, realised that Bacall was Jewish. 

For that matter Shimon Peres may never have become president of Israel, nor lived very long at all, had he stayed in his native Poland where those of his family who remained perished in the Holocaust, some being burnt alive in their local synagogue.

And this is Shimon Peres doing a little whistling of his own, wondering why those people who demonstrate against Israel over Gaza could not be bothered to demonstrate against Hamas when it first began firing rockets at Israel.