This film marks the only time real-life brothers Beau and Jeff Bridges appeared in a film together (as grown ups, they shared the screen as children with their father in ‘Seahunt’), playing brothers who find their whole outlook challenged when they let a sultry torch singer, Susie Diamond – Michelle Pfeiffer) join their cheesy nightclub act.
Beau Bridges plays Frank, highly strung, vain and thinking only of money for his family. He’s a fish out of water where the other two are concerned, and the butt of their jokes. He can’t see that the Baker Boys have a stale act which needs to move with the times, and can’t understand the different dynamics which drive his brother.
Jeff Bridges plays Jack, dissolute, arrogant, promiscuous, who juggles life with the Baker Boys with his real love, playing in the local sleazy jazz club. He befriends the little girl from upstairs who seems to be a mother figure to him, and develops an intense fixation on Pfeiffer.
Pfeiffer’s Susie is a man-magnet, draped over the piano singing ‘Making Whoopee’. She is a sexy breath of fresh air in the brothers’ act, one who isn’t afraid to make comments like ‘”Feelings” is parsley’, and, after Frank’s outburst against her use of the F-word during a performance, ‘I said it, I didn’t do it’.
My favourite line in the film though is from Jack to Frank after discovering that big brother sprays dye on to his bald spot to hide it in performance: ‘It’s paint, Frank’. So funny.
The Bridges boys are a joy to watch together. Such different actors and yet work together perfectly well, complementing each other’s differences. And the total exuberance of the final duet of ‘You’re Sixteen’ is a privilege to watch.
An excellent film.
2 thoughts on “The Fabulous Baker Boys, 1989 – ★★★★½”
I always smile when Jack tosses the “paint” to Frank with the line: ‘Don’t forget your hair.’
Excellent review of an excellent film.
Thanks for your comment Paul – yes, that’s a lovely bit. I think the icing on the cake for this film is that they are real-life brothers and obviously get on so well.
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