Susie Diamond is Forever

The Fabulous Baker Boys is my favourite Pfeiffer pfilm. For Jeff and Beau Bridges and a narrative running from Christmas through to New Year. But primarily for Michelle Pfeiffer and her sultry chanteuse Susie Diamond, a character that for me towers over all others in her pfilmography.Paris OpalsMichelle has played so many memorable characters, you tend to take them for granted, but from the moment I first watched Susie literally fall into the lives of the Baker boys, after breaking a heel entering their audition room, I never had any doubt  I was witnessing the creation of one of modern cinema’s iconic figures. Susie is the breath of life that the Baker boys and their moribund piano act have been crying out for, and it isn’t long before the trio are playing to packed houses on Seattle’s lounge circuit.Makin WhoopeeSadly their success is fleeting, as Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges) falls for Susie and drives a wedge between himself and older brother Frank (Beau Bridges). Susie Diamond’s intervention is the catalyst that ends the thirty year partnership of the Baker brothers, and ultimately leads to all three characters going their separate ways.Henry'sEven though it was released as recently as 1989, The Fabulous Baker Boys exudes a style and class that is reminiscent of the great Hollywood studio films of the 1940s and 50s, and Michelle Pfeiffer has an aura that would have been perfectly suited to that era.The fact that she performed all her own vocals in the musical scenes really adds to the cachet of her performance and Michelle also shows great comedic flair, delivering some pithy one-liners to the brothers Bridges.The Fabulous Baker Boys SusieDespite her boundless self-confidence, there is a sensitive side to streetwise Susie, superbly displayed by Michelle in the scene where she announces that she’s leaving the Baker Boys. When Jack makes no attempt to persuade her to stay, the hurt she displays is palpable.LeavingThe scene preceding Susie’s exit also features her moving rendition of ‘Feelings’, a vocal display from Michelle, which in its own way, I find just as memorable as her sizzling take on ‘Makin’ Whoopee’, sung draped over Jack Baker’s piano on New Year’s Eve. ‘Makin’ Whoopee’ is just one of the reasons why Susie Diamond has long been enshrined in my cinematic hall of fame, and it’s a measure of her allure that I still find myself wondering what became of her after the credits rolled on The Fabulous Baker Boys.Peas Peas Try Our PeasSusie’s a survivor and an optimist, and with that sexy, smoky voice she’ll never be short of singing work. I imagine she still drinks neat double Vodkas on her visits to Henry’s bar,  and continues to shun American cigarettes in favour of Paris Opals. Do Jack Baker and Susie Diamond see each other again? I think they do. If you ask me why I’m so sure, I’ll give you a one word answer. Intuition!


Filed under Retrospective

13 responses to “Susie Diamond is Forever

  1. Haven’t seen this one, maybe that’s why I don’t get all the Pfeiffer pfixation. (I do quite like her and yeah, she’s talented, but really, so are a lot of people, right?)
    For now I have Flesh and Bone on download, hopefully I’ll start with that and then watch a few more movies you have mentioned 🙂

  2. Great review!
    I haven’t seen this one either. I hope I’ll get round to it during the Christmas break. It sounds pfantastic!

    • The Fabulous Baker Boys is a great film to watch over the Christmas break as the second act is set over the Christmas holiday period.
      You’ll even get to see Michelle countdown the last ten seconds of the old year, as her encore to singing Makin’ Whoopee.

      • Evi

        Happy Birthday to Michelle! 55, yet so breathtakingly beautiful!
        I think she would be glad to read your post.

        Have a great month!

  3. Paul:
    As usual your writing is impeccable. Thank you for “throwing me a bone” with the “Fabulous Baker Boys” article. Susie had me at “More Than You Know” and later in Michelle’s career at “Meow.” Isn’t it ironic that Susie brought in the New Year sensually with Jeff Bridges and then more recently brought it in with Zac Efron in Michelle’s role as Ingrid in the comparatively flaccid “New Years Eve ?” A girl does what she has got to do.
    Since I am a stickler, I must mention that the cigarettes are “Ovals” and not “Opals.” Michelle’s quote is a killer. Jack offers Susie a cigarette, but she only smokes Paris Ovals at $3.50 a pack: “I never touch American cigarettes. If you are putting something in your mouth, it might as well be the best.” Once again she out Bacalls Bacall. It reminds me how Bacall instructed Bogart in whistling. Bacall is a classic, however Pfeiffer’s instructions made the mercury explode from the thermometer.
    My best,
    P.S. Incidentally, the English also produce cigarettes called “English Ovals.”

    • Alan:

      Thank you for your insightful comment and your kind words, they meant a lot to me.
      “More Than You Know”, is probably my favourite scene of an actor just standing there and singing in any film. I just melt when I hear Michelle’s voice and I especially like the close-up of Beau in that sequence. Michelle provides so many wonderful moments in ‘Baker Boys and she out Bacalls Bacall without a doubt.
      I could definitely imagine Michelle in “To Have and Have Not”, catching Bogart’s eye in the Hotel Marquis whilst accompanying Hoagie Carmichael and his piano on “Am I Blue”.
      Sometimes I’m sure she was born too late”

      • Paul:
        An especially strong allusion to the classic film star era is the made for TV movie “Tales from the Hollywood Hills: Natica Jackson” (1987) where Michelle plays a starlet who is ultimately ensnared in romantic tragedy. The collection of beautiful 1930’s automobiles in the film is worth the price of admission. If you can find a copy with some clarity that is not wierdly overlaid with another movie in the series, “A Table at Ciro’s,” you get a clear view of Michelle’s emotional range and her classic star quality; all of which, as you mention, she fully displays two years later in “The Fabulous Baker Boys” . And a concidence, based upon our current correspondence: “Natica Jackson” is directed by Paul Bogart, a relative of Humphrey’s. The three films in the series are based on short stories by John O’Hara. A “New York Times” review of November 6, 1987 by John J. O’Connor heaps appropriate praise on Michelle’s classic hollywood star performance. She is compared to Jean Harlow and Jean Arthur.
        My best,

  4. Paul:
    Now I stand corrected: English Ovals were made by the Americans. We will do anything for marketing.
    My best,

  5. So, now you’re trying to sway me back to Michelle’s side, eh? 😉

  6. Excellent to see a new post here! It’s been quite a while since I saw this movie, next time it airs, I will give it another chance!

  7. Hi! Nice write up about Michele. What’s your favorite film that she’s been in? Is it FBB? She was the perfect femme fatale in the green dress from Scarface. I liked her a lot in I am Sam.

  8. Like you, I am captivated by Michelle Pfeiffer, and have been ever since I saw Ladyhawke. I will never forget her writhing around in that red dress on that grand piano, singing “Makin’ Whoopee.” And when I found out she was really singing? The captivation was complete! 😀

  9. Not seen this one but definitely been on the to watch pile for way too long. Lovely captivating post.

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