How flirting went from being a sultry, skilled and seductive art to ‘u up?’ texts at 3 a.m.

Marie Browning falls into “Steve” Morgan’s lap. She plants a supple, yet surprising kiss on his mouth before pulling away. Morgan, equal parts confused and amused, asks, “What did you do that for?” She answers, “Been wondering whether I’d like it.”

Browning, as portrayed by Lauren Bacall, makes the slowest exit from a scene in movie history, sashaying out of Morgan’s office with more turnarounds than a back and forth basketball game. Finally, she looks at Morgan, played by Humphrey Bogart, and purrs, “You know, you don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything, and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you, Steve? You just put your lips together and … blow.”

“You just put your lips together and … blow.”

The scene is from 1944’s To Have and Have Not. Anyone with a pulse – then or now – would be aroused by it. It has become the most quintessential flirt ever recorded – on film or otherwise. And it’s evidence that flirting used to be sultry, skilled and seductive.

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