The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)

R | 114 mins | Comedy-drama | 13 October 1989

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HISTORY

       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer-director Steve Kloves first sold The Fabulous Baker Boys screenplay to producer Paula Weinstein and her partner, Gareth Wigan, at WW Productions. In turn, Weinstein and Wigan negotiated a deal with Warner Bros. president of worldwide production, Mark Rosenberg. The project remained at Warner Bros. for several years, and Bill Murray briefly considered starring, as noted in an 8 Oct 1989 LAT article. In the meantime, WW Productions dissolved, Weinstein became an executive consultant to a division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) headed by Alan Ladd, Jr., and Rosenberg left Warner Bros. to form Mirage Productions with filmmaker Sydney Pollack. The Fabulous Baker Boys moved to MGM, and Weinstein partnered with Mirage. However, when Alan Ladd, Jr. left MGM, the project moved once again to Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, with Gladden Entertainment partnering with Mirage.
       As stated in the 8 Oct 1989 LAT, producers Rosenberg and Weinstein visited Jeff Bridges at his home in Montana in hopes of casting him as “Jack Baker.” Jeff then suggested his brother, Beau Bridges, for the role of “Frank Baker,” and although Kloves was initially wary of “the gimmick factor of using real brothers,” he decided Beau was right for the part upon their first meeting. Michelle Pfeiffer, who provided her own vocals as “Susie Diamond,” prepared for the role by training with Sally Stevens, a seasoned studio singer and friend of composer Dave Grusin, according to a 31 Oct 1989 WSJ article. Stevens visited Pfeiffer’s home in Santa Monica, CA, daily for two hours over the course of five to six weeks, provided ... More Less

       According to production notes in AMPAS library files, writer-director Steve Kloves first sold The Fabulous Baker Boys screenplay to producer Paula Weinstein and her partner, Gareth Wigan, at WW Productions. In turn, Weinstein and Wigan negotiated a deal with Warner Bros. president of worldwide production, Mark Rosenberg. The project remained at Warner Bros. for several years, and Bill Murray briefly considered starring, as noted in an 8 Oct 1989 LAT article. In the meantime, WW Productions dissolved, Weinstein became an executive consultant to a division of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) headed by Alan Ladd, Jr., and Rosenberg left Warner Bros. to form Mirage Productions with filmmaker Sydney Pollack. The Fabulous Baker Boys moved to MGM, and Weinstein partnered with Mirage. However, when Alan Ladd, Jr. left MGM, the project moved once again to Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation, with Gladden Entertainment partnering with Mirage.
       As stated in the 8 Oct 1989 LAT, producers Rosenberg and Weinstein visited Jeff Bridges at his home in Montana in hopes of casting him as “Jack Baker.” Jeff then suggested his brother, Beau Bridges, for the role of “Frank Baker,” and although Kloves was initially wary of “the gimmick factor of using real brothers,” he decided Beau was right for the part upon their first meeting. Michelle Pfeiffer, who provided her own vocals as “Susie Diamond,” prepared for the role by training with Sally Stevens, a seasoned studio singer and friend of composer Dave Grusin, according to a 31 Oct 1989 WSJ article. Stevens visited Pfeiffer’s home in Santa Monica, CA, daily for two hours over the course of five to six weeks, provided her with a “vocal/piano demo” of songs being considered for the film as well as a demo tape of piano accompaniments recorded by Grusin, and shared recordings by June Christy, Blossom Dearie, and Ella Fitzgerald, for inspiration.
       Principal photography began 5 Dec 1988 in Los Angeles, CA, which stood in for Seattle, WA. Locations included the Ambassador Hotel, where the famed Cocoanut Grove nightclub was used for several scenes; according to production notes, the Ambassador was shuttered soon after filming was completed there. The Biltmore Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, the Variety Arts Theatre, a piano showroom in Pasadena, CA, and a deli located in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles were also used. As stated in production notes, filming took place over two months.
       According to an 8 Nov 1989 LAT item, Pfeiffer’s wardrobe consisted mainly of dresses purchased by costume designer Lisa Jensen for under $100 at discount stores in downtown Los Angeles, vintage shops in the Valley, a store called Addictions on Sunset Boulevard, and Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills. Jensen, who wanted the dresses to accurately represent the kind of clothing Susie Diamond would be able to afford, designed only one dress herself: the red velvet evening gown worn by the actress in the “Makin’ Whoopee” scene. The black cocktail dress purchased for Susie before her first performance with the Fabulous Baker Boys was designed by Ronaldus Shamask.
       The film received generally positive reviews, and the three central performances were uniformly lauded. Academy Award nominations included: Actress in a Leading Role (Michelle Pfeiffer); Cinematography; Film Editing; and Music (Original Score). In addition, the film was nominated for the following Golden Globe Awards: Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama (Michelle Pfeiffer), and Best Original Score – Motion Picture.
       The film marked Steve Kloves’s feature film directorial debut, as noted in several contemporary sources, including a 9 Mar 1989 HR news item.
       A 16 Jun 1995 DV brief stated that rights to The Fabulous Baker Boys had been sold, as part of a thirteen-film library, for $14.1 million to Credit Lyonnais Bank, by Bruce McNall of Gladden Entertainment. After the sale, McNall owed an additional $92 million to Credit Lyonnais, after having recently pled guilty to defrauding Credit Lyonnais and five other banks of more than $236 million.

      Seattle crew electrician Don McDonald, Jr.'s name is misspelled "Don McConald, Jr." in end credits. The following organizations and individuals receive “Special Thanks”: the people of Seattle; the Washington State Film and Video Office; Cellular One of Washington; Chris Owen & Owen Piano; Fantasy, Inc.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
9 Oct 1989
p. 2, 11.
Daily Variety
16 Jun 1995.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Mar 1989.
---
Hollywood Reporter
9 Oct 1989
p. 4, 15.
Los Angeles Times
8 Oct 1989
Calendar, p. 24.
Los Angeles Times
13 Oct 1989
p. 1.
Los Angeles Times
8 Nov 1989
Section E, p. 8.
New York Times
13 Oct 1989
p. 14.
Variety
18 Oct 1989
p. 25, 28.
WSJ
31 Oct 1989
p. 1.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Mirage Production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Co-prod
Exec prod
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Addl cam asst
Gaffer
Best boy elec
Pre-rig rigging gaffer
Pre-rig rigging gaffer
Key grip
Best boy grip
Dolly grip
Key rigging grip
Spec photog
Still photog
Elec, Seattle crew
Elec, Seattle crew
Grip, Seattle crew
Grip, Seattle crew
Panther dolly and crane arm supplied by
Cranes and dollys by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Art coord
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Apprentice ed
Negative cutting by
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Sr set des
Set dresser
Set dresser
On-set dresser
Scenic artist
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Swing gang
Const coord
Const foreman
Prop master
Asst props
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Propmaker
Painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Painter
Const laborer
Set dresser, Seattle crew
Propmaker, Seattle crew
Propmaker, Seattle crew
Laborer, Seattle crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Ward supv
Costumer
MUSIC
Exec mus prod
Mus ed consultant
Mus ed
Mus rec eng
Jeff Bridges' piano performances by
Beau Bridges' piano performances by
Sideline piano supv
Piano coach
Piano coach
Vocal coach to Ms. Pfeiffer
Mus clearance
Mus preparation
Musicians contractor
Saxophones, Score performed by
Trumpet, Score performed by
Guitar, Score performed by
Bass, Score performed by
Drums, Score performed by
Keyboards, Score performed by
Mus rec at
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom man
Cable
Supv sd ed
Dial ed
Sd eff ed
ADR ed
ADR mixer
Foley ed
Foley ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Sd asst
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Titles and opticals by
DANCE
"Makin' Whoopee" choreog by
MAKEUP
Hairdresser
Makeup artist
Asst makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Prod exec
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Prod coord
Scr supv
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
Prod accountant
Accounting asst
Casting assoc
Casting coord
Extras casting
Grey Images
Voice casting
Post prod coord
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Driver
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Asst to Jeff Bridges
Dog trainer
Craft service
Caterer
Studio teacher
Studio teacher
Asst to the prods
Asst to the prods
Asst to the prods
Prod coord, Seattle crew
Office prod asst, Seattle crew
Prod asst, Seattle crew
Loc asst, Seattle crew
Transportation capt, Seattle crew
Craft service, Seattle crew
Tutor, Seattle crew
Driver, Seattle crew
Driver, Seattle crew
Driver, Seattle crew
Driver, Seattle crew
Driver, Seattle crew
Driver, Seattle crew
Driver, Seattle crew
Prod services provided by
Public relations representative (U.S. & Canada)
Public relations representative (International)
Insurance provided by
Completion bond by
Financial consultant
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stand In/Michelle Pfeiffer
Stand In/Beau Bridges
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
SOURCES
MUSIC
"People," performed by Dave Grusin & John Hammond, written by Jule Styne & Bob Merrill
"Jingle Bells," performed by Ellie Raab
"The Girl From Ipanema," performed by Dave Grusin & John Hammond, written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Norman Gimbel & Vinicius De Moraes
+
MUSIC
"People," performed by Dave Grusin & John Hammond, written by Jule Styne & Bob Merrill
"Jingle Bells," performed by Ellie Raab
"The Girl From Ipanema," performed by Dave Grusin & John Hammond, written by Antonio Carlos Jobim, Norman Gimbel & Vinicius De Moraes
"Bluebird," written by A. Hawkshaw
"Jingle Bells," arranged and adapted by Jon Charles
"Perdido," performed by The Duke Ellington Orchestra, courtesy of GRP Records, Inc., produced by Michael Abene & Mercer Ellington, written by Juan Tizol
"Lullaby Of Birdland," performed by Louis Spears, Kenny Dennis & Joel Scott, written by George Shearing
"Prelude To A Kiss," performed by The Duke Ellington Orchestra, courtesy of GRP Records, Inc., produced by Michael Abene & Mercer Ellington, written by Edward Kennedy Ellington, Irving Gordon and Irving Mills
"Moonglow," performed by Benny Goodman Quartet, courtesy of RCA Records, written by Will Hudson, Eddie De Lange & Irving Mills
"Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me," performed by The Duke Ellington Orchestra, courtesy of GRP Records, Inc., produced by Michael Abene & Mercer Ellington, written by Edward Kennedy Ellington & Bob Russell
"Sweet Georgia Brown," whistler - Rick Riccio, written by Ben Bernie, Maceo Pinkard & Kenneth Casey.
+
SONGS
"The Candy Man," performed by Jennifer Tilly, written by Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley
"Up, Up And Away," performed by D. D. Howard, written by Jimmy Webb
"My Way," performed by Lisa Raggio, written by Paul Anka, Gillis Thibault, Claude Francois & Jacques Revaux
+
SONGS
"The Candy Man," performed by Jennifer Tilly, written by Leslie Bricusse & Anthony Newley
"Up, Up And Away," performed by D. D. Howard, written by Jimmy Webb
"My Way," performed by Lisa Raggio, written by Paul Anka, Gillis Thibault, Claude Francois & Jacques Revaux
"I Go To Rio," performed by Wendy Goldman, written by Peter Allen & Adrienne Anderson
"Tiny Bubbles," performed by Carole Ita White, written by Leon Pober
"I'm So Excited," performed by Krisie Spear and Martina Finch and Vickilyn Reynolds and Karen Hartman, written by Anita Pointer, June Pointer, Ruth Pointer & Trevor Lawrence
"Feelings," performed by Winifred Freedman and Michelle Pfeiffer, music and words by Louis Gaste & Morris Albert
"More Than You Know," performed by Michelle Pfeiffer, written by Edward Eliscu, Billy Rose & Vincent Youmans
"Can't Take My Eyes Off You," performed by Michelle Pfeiffer, written by Bob Crewe & Bob Gaudio
"Ten Cents A Dance," performed by Michelle Pfeiffer, Jeff Bridges & Beau Bridges, written by Richard Rodgers & Lorenz Hart
"The Look Of Love," performed by Michelle Pfeiffer, written by Burt Bacharach & Hal David
"Makin' Whoopee," performed by Michelle Pfeiffer, written by Walter Donaldson & Gus Kahn
"Solitude," performed by Tony Bennett, courtesy of CBS Records, Music Licensing Department, written by Edward Kennedy Ellington, Eddie De Lange & Irving Mills
"The Pea Song," performed by Michelle Pfeiffer, words by Steve Kloves, music by Michelle Pfeiffer
"You're Sixteen (You're Beautiful And You're Mine)," performed by Jeff Bridges & Beau Bridges, written by Robert Sherman & Richard Sherman
"My Funny Valentine," performed by Michelle Pfeiffer, written by Lorenz Hart & Richard Rodgers.
+
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 October 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 13 October 1989
Production Date:
5 December 1988--early February 1989 in Los Angeles, CA
Copyright Claimant:
Gladden Entertainment Corporation
Copyright Date:
16 November 1989
Copyright Number:
PA431541
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses/Prints
Cameras by Arri Munich
Duration(in mins):
114
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29953
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Seattle, Washington, brothers Frank and Jack Baker perform as the piano-playing duo, “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” at various hotel lounges and bars. One night, after a poorly received show at a tiki lounge, Frank and Jack are paid off by Charlie, the manager, who cancels their second performance and suggests they are out of fashion. On the drive home, Jack comments that they have not been paid off in fifteen years of working together, and Frank suggests it is time to take on a singer. The men audition thirty-seven women to no avail. However, a beautiful woman named Susie Diamond arrives an hour and a half late, and although Frank wants to disqualify her based on her tardiness, she has a hunch about the audition and insists on being heard. When Frank asks about her singing experience, Susie admits she is an escort and has none. Nevertheless, she impresses them with a passionate rendition of “More Than You Know.” Later, Frank paces nervously before a show at the Ambassador Lounge, angry that Susie is late for her first performance. She arrives in a sparkly dress, and Frank disapproves, so the brothers take her to buy something more understated. The performance starts off awkwardly, but Susie recovers and charms the audience, especially the men. After the show, Frank reprimands her for using a curse word onstage and takes a personal tip she was given, saying he will apply it toward the cost of the dress. Incensed, Susie demands that her name and face be added to the Fabulous Baker Boys poster. By Christmas, Susie’s presence has significantly boosted the Baker Boys’ popularity. She tells Frank and Jack that a ... +


In Seattle, Washington, brothers Frank and Jack Baker perform as the piano-playing duo, “The Fabulous Baker Boys,” at various hotel lounges and bars. One night, after a poorly received show at a tiki lounge, Frank and Jack are paid off by Charlie, the manager, who cancels their second performance and suggests they are out of fashion. On the drive home, Jack comments that they have not been paid off in fifteen years of working together, and Frank suggests it is time to take on a singer. The men audition thirty-seven women to no avail. However, a beautiful woman named Susie Diamond arrives an hour and a half late, and although Frank wants to disqualify her based on her tardiness, she has a hunch about the audition and insists on being heard. When Frank asks about her singing experience, Susie admits she is an escort and has none. Nevertheless, she impresses them with a passionate rendition of “More Than You Know.” Later, Frank paces nervously before a show at the Ambassador Lounge, angry that Susie is late for her first performance. She arrives in a sparkly dress, and Frank disapproves, so the brothers take her to buy something more understated. The performance starts off awkwardly, but Susie recovers and charms the audience, especially the men. After the show, Frank reprimands her for using a curse word onstage and takes a personal tip she was given, saying he will apply it toward the cost of the dress. Incensed, Susie demands that her name and face be added to the Fabulous Baker Boys poster. By Christmas, Susie’s presence has significantly boosted the Baker Boys’ popularity. She tells Frank and Jack that a waitress friend is making three times more at the Hilton lounge when they play there and suggests they request a percentage of the bar’s profits. Frank dismisses the idea, but Jack agrees and asks if she wants to get coffee after Frank has gone home. Susie declines, remarking that it would be creepy if she and Jack became romantically involved. Lonely, Jack goes to retrieve his dog at a veterinary hospital and returns home to find Nina, a young neighbor neglected by her single mother, watching television in his living room. The next week, Frank, Jack, and Susie leave town to play several nights of shows at an opulent hotel where they share a suite. Celebrating a successful show, Frank boasts to Susie about Jack’s intelligence. He also credits his brother for his marriage and two children because Jack taught him the box step before a high school dance he attended with his future wife. When Frank retires for the evening, Susie and Jack dance, but he retreats to bed after she claims she has had too much to drink. The next day, she finds Jack playing piano alone and Frank observes from afar as Susie admires his brother’s playing. Later, Frank admonishes Jack for his excessive cigarette smoking, then warns him to leave Susie alone. Learning that his son was injured, Frank returns to Seattle, leaving Jack and Susie to perform without him on New Year’s Eve. At the show, Susie sings “Makin’ Whoopee” while sprawled across the top of Jack’s piano, then leads the New Year’s countdown and kisses Jack at midnight. After the ballroom has emptied out, Susie drinks champagne and confides to Jack about her work as an escort, then complains that her neck is aching. Jack gives her a massage and makes love to her onstage. In the morning, Susie is offended when she finds him getting dressed by her bed. Back in Seattle, tensions arise between Susie and Frank, and Jack urges his brother to ease up on her. Susie goes to Jack’s apartment and finds Nina, who directs her to the jazz club where he is playing that night. There, Susie spies Jack passionately playing piano in a jazz trio. Sneaking back to his apartment, she greets him there when he returns and they make love. In the morning, Susie tells Jack she is thinking about leaving the act to sing commercial jingles. To her surprise, he supports the decision and comments that she will not be hard to replace. After their next gig, Susie tells Jack she will not return for another show and accuses him of being cold. Jack tells her she doesn’t know him, but she reveals that she saw him play at the jazz club and accuses him of living a lie by remaining in the Fabulous Baker Boys. Later, Jack and Frank play an ill-received show at the Starfire Lounge, and Jack berates Frank for booking an unpaid performance on an obscure telethon benefitting a high school gymnasium. On the broadcast, the brothers’ performance is interrupted by the emcee, prompting Jack to attack him. Outside, Frank accuses his brother of being unprofessional, while Jack counters that Frank has no dignity. Insisting he must maintain a professional demeanor for his family, Frank says Jack drinks too much, and the brothers tussle. Later that night, Jack passes out at a diner. He briefly considers seducing the waitress, one of the singers who auditioned for his act, but thinks twice after spotting Susie’s headshot on the wall. Arriving home, he finds Nina in his apartment yet again and reprimands her for treating him like a de facto babysitter. Shortly after, however, he apologizes and promises the girl another piano lesson. When Jack is offered a regular gig at the jazz club, he goes to Frank’s house in the suburbs and announces that he must quit the Fabulous Baker Boys. Seeming unsurprised, Frank says he will become a piano teacher. The brothers share a drink and cheer up as they play a song together. Later, Jack approaches Susie outside her apartment to apologize. Assuming he has come to ask her back, she expresses satisfaction with her commercial singing gig. She starts to go, and Jack asks if he will see her again. When she asks what he thinks, Jack says his intuition tells him they will reunite. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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