When Susie met Sally Makin’ Whoopee in Katz’s Deli…

To quote Howard Hawks “A good movie is three good scenes and no bad scenes.” If people think of The Fabulous Baker Boys they’ll probably think of only one good scene. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Susie, vamping it up atop a piano, in arch-breaking heels and a beautiful red dress, singing “Makin’ Whoopee.”If you’d caught The Fabulous Baker Boys in 1989 you might have thought Michelle would be our Carole Lombard. A Hawksian Woman for the ’90s and beyond.It didn’t quite happen that way. But after a recent viewing of Pfeiffer’s Oscar nominated performance, I thought, “Why not?” In terms of blonde ambition, radiance and lethal line delivery, only Meg Ryan’s eponymous Sally approached Susie Diamond in the showstopping stakes as the 80’s drew to a close.Oh Meg, there you are above, all of 27 years of age, in THAT scene from When Harry Met Sally… Who else could have guided us through Rob Reiner’s sophisticated, dialogue driven comedy? One minute you were a hot mess of self-possessed vulnerability; the next a perky, independent alternative to Michelle.If they had given an Academy Award for most memorable scene of the year, Ryan would have received a nomination and gone neck and neck with Pfeiffer for the gold. From the The Fabulous Baker Boys to When Harry Met Sally… 1989  was amazing. A time of cinematic magic, given as gifts to those who worship films.

1989: Susie? Sally? Is either a favourite?



Filed under Retrospective

7 responses to “When Susie met Sally Makin’ Whoopee in Katz’s Deli…

  1. Ah, I was just out for a walk, taking in the crisp autumn air and the fall foliage, and couldn’t help think of When Harry Met Sally. I love how this time of year always reminds me of that lovely film. And you’re spot on, Paul: Michelle and Meg, circa ’89, were the pinnacle, for me, for you, for almost everyone. It was a glorious time to be witnessing them both take their careers to all-new heights. Beautiful piece, once again. Thanks for writing it.

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  3. RB

    In Baker Boys, the emotional connections (and detachments, and re-attachments) absolutely capture the spirit of the 1980s.
    I’ve just become resigned to the fact that we are not going to get another leading lady in films like Michelle. Actually that’s a good thing. She’s unique.

  4. Great post 🙂 You know when you talk about Michelle Pfeiffer and Howard Hawks here, I think the perfect film you can reference here directed by Hawks is 1941’s Ball of Fire with Barbara Stanwyck. I do not know If you have seen it, but Billy Wilder co-wrote the screenplay to it and I know you are a huge fan of him as well 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

  5. Ahhh… two wonderful and unforgettable scenes which I love very much! I actually heard that Meg Ryan has never seen When Harry Met Sally… and she was a little embarrassed her kids would catch her orgasming in a crowded place… And yet this is just a masterpiece.

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