“Frank, to you ‘Feelings’ may be goddamn filet mignon, but to me, it’s parsley. It’s less than parsley.”
When Susie Diamond, as portrayed with incomparable excellence by Michelle Pfeiffer, spits out her contempt for singing the standard “Feelings” she’s also speaking to a larger theme running through Steve Kloves’s 1989 masterpiece The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) concerning the main characters – Susie, Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges), and Frank Baker (Beau Bridges). Namely, how they struggle to confront their feelings head on. Jack is a frustrated jazz musician who should be playing for higher stakes than being a big fish in the small pond of the Seattle lounge act circuit alongside his less talented and micromanaging brother Frank. But he’s stuffing his feelings and doing a disservice to his talent. Frank transfers any feelings of inadequacy he has into the Baker Boys brand and management. Of the three, former escort Susie is most open with her feelings, even though she too disguises her emotions at times with thinly veiled sarcasm. Over the course of the film, Susie and the Baker Boys tentatively face their emotions in ways none of them had in a long time, if ever.
I’ve been thinking a lot about The Fabulous Baker Boys lately, which is not unusual. I’ve been thinking a lot about this movie since first seeing it as a teenager. It’s one of my very favorite Pfeiffer films, and Susie resides right at or near the top of my personal favorite Pfeiffer performances, alongside Frankie from Frankie and the Johnny (1991). So it’s no surprise that, as I’ve struggled lately with what to write and where to write it, I would turn to Susie Diamond and the Baker Boys for inspiration. What you see before you is the culmination of those long days and nights of thinking and processing my feelings about what path my writing might take next. And the path I’ve chosen has led me here, to the Starfire Lounge, where Susie and the boys used to play all the old standards, including “Feelings,” of course.
For those of you have followed me over at my other online home these last five years, Words Seem Out of Place, I hope you’ll travel with me along this new path. I’ll explore a lot of the same things that have always interested and inspired me – Michelle Pfeiffer, movies, and of course feelings – but hopefully in new and exciting ways. At the very least, it’s a refresh and a rebirth of sorts. I’d grown tired of the old site. I selected the name on a whim five years ago and really wanted something different, something more tied to what I spend so much of my time writing about at various websites and publications. The Starfire Lounge is a beautiful reminder of a film I’ve always cherished. It feels like home around here already.
These are strange times we’re living in. I hope you are all safe and healthy, and that you’ll check back here often, or at least as often as your busy lives allow. Drop me a line in the comments any time. And if you’re interested in reading more of my thoughts, check out my articles, essays, and reviews at sites like Diabolique Magazine, The After Movie Diner, HiLoBrow, and Horror Geek Life, to name just a few. I’m also working on some essays that will be published in three different books of popular culture analysis, and as those become available, I’ll be sure to post about them here.
As always, thanks for reading. For now, I’ll leave you with these words, as Susie Diamond profoundly summarizes why expressing, rather than avoiding, our feelings is the healthier choice.
I know one thing. While Frank Baker was home putting his kids to sleep last night, little brother Jack was out dusting off his dreams for a few minutes. I was there. I saw it in your face. You’re full of shit. You’re a fake. Every time you walk into some shitty daiquiri hut, you’re selling yourself on the cheap. Hey, I know all about that. I’d find myself at the end of the night with some creep and tell myself it didn’t matter. And you kid yourself that you’ve got this empty place inside where you can put it all. But you do it long enough and all you are is empty.