Of Wolf Whistles and Boatswain’s Calls

Here’s another one we all know. Here’s a clip from Howard Hawks’ amazing To Have and Have Not (1944), starring Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart. The film’s most famous line happens at 0:35. Bogey’s reaction is at 0:50.

I’m pretty sure that everyone in the Western world who is of breeding age knows the Wolf Whistle. Usually, this two-tone, sliding “wheet-wheeoo” is directed from randy men toward pretty ladies, though the occasional gender swap occurs. Generally, in terms of the art of foley, it signifies hotness.

But where did it come from?

Sadly, I’ve thus far found very little that links the wolf whistle directly to an origin, but a few ideas are floating around.

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