Tthe most beautiful blonde in the movies celebrates her 55th birthday today.
I realise I haven’t worshipped at Catwoman’s heels or stood to attention while she made whoopee on the piano recently. But I have been in a Pfeifferian mood over the weekend, and I would like to honour her birthday, by revisiting the film siren who first lured me to my cinematic doom over two decades ago. Sultry chanteuse Susie Diamond.
Michelle Pfeiffer has played so many memorable characters, I 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.
Sadly 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.
Even 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 as she delivers some pithy one-liners to the brothers Bridges.
Despite 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.
The 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.
Susie’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.
I think they do. If you ask me why I’m so sure, I’ll give you a one word answer. Intuition!
Originally posted 5/12/2012