Friday, April 28, 2006
Susie Diamond is forever
It may have come to some readers' attention that blogmate Nathaniel Rogers, over at The Film Experience, has a soft spot for Michelle Pfeiffer. He's kind of shy about this, is Nat. I really had to press him into coming out of the Pfeiffer closet this week, and, after an exhausting campaign of arm-twisting, I've managed to coerce him into organising a kind of Pfeiffer-awareness blogathon across the web today, largely as penance for what paltry coverage he's given the poor woman over the years. It's her birthday tomorrow, and she's got three new movies in production this year, and I really thought it was high time he made amends and gave her a bit of a shout out, basically.
Anyway, I jest. Nat is a Pfeiffer fan in the way that people are fans of eating, sleeping, breathing. And I like her too, very much. But there's one performance for me that towers over the Pfilmography and which I want to try and capture, just briefly. I can't imagine her ever topping her wonderful Susie Diamond in Steve Kloves's The Fabulous Baker Boys, and I don't know why she would ever need to, if the truth be told. The performance has just about everything: grace, ease, charm, wit, comic timing, magnificent allure, smoky singing, slinky moves on the piano and a totally assertive, screw-you independence. She should have won an Oscar for it. (Sorry, Jessica Tandy.)
Her breathy audition number, "More Than You Know", may be my favourite scene of an actor just standing there and singing in any film, but the architecture of that whole sequence is a perfect and incredibly generous showcase for her talents: the way she comes in, chewing gum and kind of cringing at the décor, after the Bridges brothers have just had that run of ear-splitting wannabe divas trying to belt out the showtunes. Pfeiffer's voice just melts out of her and holds you rapt. I love the close-up on Beau steepling his fingers and almost in tears. And then it's over, and she sort of steps out of the moment with a little, "Yeah, well...", and you settle in for the rest of a gloriously enjoyable and sexy movie. Others might single out "Makin' Whoopee", or the montage of the trio clambering up the hierarchy of Seattle nightspots, or the great cat-and-mouse seduction games with Jeff in the hotel suite, but it's that audition piece which pins me to my seat, every time. Can we request an encore, is what I want to know. Where's Susie Diamond now, after all?
Is she happy?