The husky voiced Lizabeth Scott was another great film noir star known for her innocent but deadly countenance on screen. She actually stripped the ‘E’ from her real name of ‘Elisabeth’ and added a ‘Z’ to make her name stand out and it worked. She was discovered by Hal Wallis who fell madly in love with her and believed in her when others didn’t. Those who didn’t included other producers and casting directors who had already fallen in love with ‘Lauren Bacall’ who was also a husky voiced siren who slithered across the screen and purred her lines with the ease of a perching jaguar but if Bacall was a jaguar Scott was a lurking panther hiding in the shadows ready to pounce when least expected. The comparisons between them were a little unfair as they really were quite different. In the roles she played Bacall was tall and elegant with a tough edge but a heart as soft as melted marshmallow. Scott, on the other hand always had an element of darkness. A little tortured and a little lost often misunderstood and sometimes guilty as charged. Her characters were electric and sizzled with calculated intent while those played by Bacall smouldered in a slow burning flame. Lizabeth Scott managed to trail the careers of many great actresses and had virtually begun as an understudy for the great Tallula Bankhead in her first stage roll in Thornton Wilder’s ‘The Skin Of Our Teeth’. Tallula was forty at the time and Scott while only nineteen had grabbed all the publicity. This of course did not bode well for Bankhead and she barked orders at Scott who finally got very angry and told her to say please which Tallula, surprisingly, did. So when Scott finally did manage to play the role on stage, when Bankhead fell ill, her ego was well and truly in tact. Later Miriam Hopkins rival only to the great Bette Davis who had, strangely enough been a mentor for Lauren Bacall, took over the role from Tallula and also fell ill. The understudy was again… You guessed it … Lizabeth Scott.
Hal Wallace ensured that Scott bacame a major Hollywood contender, however, and she would go on to star in twenty two film noirs making cementing her fame in Hollywood land for all time. Funnily though her first film ‘You Came Along’, was a comedy and came out the year after Bacall made ‘To Have and To have Not’ with Bogart which came out in 1945. In 1946 Scott made ‘The Strange Love Of Martha Ivers’ with another great star, Barbara Stanwyck, and was given top billing due to Hal Wallace’s insistence. This made an enemy out of Stanwyck who complained bitterly and finally got her way. Scott would have the last laugh, however, co starring with Bacall’s beau Humphrey Bogart in the classic ‘Dead Reckoning’. What a drama! In the film ‘No Time For Tears’ my favourite Lizabeth Scott Film she trumps them all and plays a real sugar coated deviate diva. In the film she leaves a string of bodies, male, in her attempts to conceal the fact that she’s found a stolen stash of bills which she intends to keep. A real sweetheart who lies, cheats and schemes her way through the movie in a range of glamorous outfits without a hair ever being out of place. Slick, sleek and totally chic. Scott had a very long affair with Hal wallace and was also involved with Burt Lanchaster with whom she made ‘I Walk Alone’ yet another film bent on betrayal and vengeance. In this film she is Lanchaster’s ally against crooked mob boss and night club owner ‘Noll’ played by ‘Kirk Douglas’. She only changes sides when ‘Noll’ refuses to marry her opting instead for a wealthy socialite who can prop up his new night club. Lanchaster’s character ” Frankie’ has spent more than a decade in jail as a result being double crossed by ‘Noll’ and has vowed revenge. This film was made in 1948 and Scott would make three more films with him. They made a good team with his strong jaw and athletic build and her intense searching gaze coupled by a determined stance and practiced poise. Lizabeth Scott was apparently incredibly ambitious and it showed. For her determination to succeed amongst the competition she was often derided by the press. But Hollywood was and still is one tough town so I say “If you got it flaunt it”… Lizabeth Scott had it in spades and fully deserves the accolades.
© Renee Dallow ( Hybiscus Bloom ) 25/9/2014