The Pfeiffer Woman

“Yeah, I’m free everyday. It’s in the Constitution.” – Stephanie Zinone, Grease 2

“What scares me isn’t how short life is, no, it’s the pain, all the pain. I don’t understand why there has to be any pain.” – Sukie Ridgemont, The Witches of Eastwick

“What are you, the last civilized man?” – Laura Alden, Wolf

“It’s the so-called “normal” guys who always let you down. Sickos never scare me. Least they’re committed.” – Selina Kyle, Batman Returns

The Pfeiffer Woman – a term I just coined; you’re welcome – is typically independent, whip-smart, and rebellious, to name just a few qualities shared by many of Michelle Pfeiffer’s characters over the years. This time every year, I marvel at just how many of the uber-Pfeiffer Women were in films released during this stretch in June. It’s a veritable cornucopia of the what makes Pfeiffer such a charismatic and unforgettable screen presence.

Stephanie might be looking for a “C-O-O-L R-I-D-E-R” but we all know she’s the Coolest Rider there is – in many ways, coming so early in Pfeiffer’s career, she sets the template for the Pfeiffer Woman. Sukie is the heart and soul of Witches, plus somehow manages to raise six daughters (!) and write for her small town paper. Laura is tough, cynical, and yet still yearning for something real in her life, masterfully conveyed through both Pfeiffer’s beautifully nuanced performance and legendary Elaine May’s uncredited script work. And with Selina, Pfeiffer is able to trace one woman’s narrative arc from invisible, disrespected office lackey Selina to radical, ferocious feminist Catwoman.

These four June films, and Pfeiffer’s peak-level performances in each, were released within a twelve year period. If you were trying to initiate someone into the fabulous world of Pfeiffer fandom, you could do worse than to show them these four films, each of which offers a shining example of Pfeiffer at her absolute best.

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