The Front Row View: The Fabulous Baker Boys

The Front Row View is a regular column by Great Stories contributor Jim Cannizzaro.  He is a veteran community theater leading man, seasoned blogger, movie enthusiast, and family man. 

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Time to get to one of my favorite movies of all time. Steve Kloves’ 1989 The Fabulous Baker Boys is a stylish, witty and melancholic look at siblings Jack and Frank Baker (played by real-life brothers Jeff and Beau Bridges), two small time pianists still scrounging for a living playing third rate dives after many years. They finally consent to hire a vocalist, Suzie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer), who immediately improves both the number and the quality of their bookings with her warm and skilled interpretations of the standards that they play. The beautiful Pfeiffer is at her best here, both in the musical sequences (crawling over a piano while singing Makin’ Whoopee, eeeooowwwwww!) and in her banter with the boys. Jeff Bridges does an amazing job of revealing Jack’s self-loathing while showing his passion for music that attracts Suzie to him. Beau Bridges is also skillful as the fussy leader of the group, constantly moaning over Jack’s hair or Suzie’s tardiness. Rifts in the group occur when Suzie starts to challenge Jack. The images of cinematographer Michael Ballhaus hold the movie in a nostalgic glow, and the script by Kloves is rife with sharp lines (many of which I’ve used over the years). It doesn’t get much better than this.

-Jim

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