“Don’t ever change, Tiger. I don’t think I’d like you with a heart.”
-Danny, in Too Late for Tears
In an interview in 1996 Lizabeth Scott said that the film noir roles that she played, often the good girls gone bad, were not written for her, that it was serendipity, due to the popularity of noir at the time. She said, “I fell in love with the lens, and the lens fell in love with me.”
Her career started on the stage, a comedy with a touring company in her teens. She then landed a small part in The Skin of Our Teeth, and also was the understudy to Tallulah Bankhead, the star of the play. But later, when she was still understudy-ing for Miriam Hopkins, she left the play, seeing that she was not going to get the role, and headed for Hollywood.
After a screen test for Warner Bros., Jack Warner said, “This girl is nothing but a second lead, and we have plenty of those.” Before she went back to New York, she was called in to see Hal Wallis, who was at WB at the time. She entered his office and promptly tripped on his rug and fell. He gallantly lifted her up and helped her to sit down. Later he would be her producer at Paramount.
In that meeting, he said, “If I had the power, I would sign you immediately.” To that, Lizabeth thought to herself, ‘this man is just a prevaricator’, and still left to go back to New York, as being a star on the stage was her big ambition. But eventually she found her way back to Hollywood, Paramount, and her beloved lens.
She caught my attention when I started to watch noir and crime film, with that sweet face and those beautiful eyes, but then she could pull off a woman with a ruthless will. Focused and intent on her goal, each character would knock down anything in her way, and anybody. It seemed like despite her efforts to get to the stage, the film scripts were there, made just to fit her, and she fit them like a set of kid gloves.
I just love this scene from Dead Reckoning with Humphrey Bogart. Rip tries to put Dusty in her place after she interrupts him while he is talking, but she flips the script.
quotes from Lizabeth Scott’s interview with Carol Langer in 1996.
photos are public domain