Susie, Jack, and the Christmas Eve Coffee That Never Was

This Christmas Eve my mind wanders to a Christmas Eve past. It was the late eighties, in Seattle. Musician Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges) had just asked singer Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer) out for coffee after the two of them played a Christmas Eve gig with Jack’s older brother Frank (Beau Bridges). Strictly business partners up to this point, it was still obvious Susie and Jack had some simmering attraction going on just under the surface. This was Jack’s first, tentative attempt at making this explicit. For an otherwise curmudgeonly soul, it was a bold move. Sure, it was just after hours coffee, but opening your heart to someone has to start somewhere, right? Susie, in standard self-protection mode, deflected the invite with her usual instinctive flair for sarcasm. Jack is already emotionally stunted and takes this as his cue to pull back and act like it’s no big deal, although it’s clear he’s hurt that she isn’t taking him up on the offer. Both of them are in self-protection mode, and eventually by New Year’s Eve they’ll open up and embrace the possibility that they could make this work, even if only briefly.

The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) is always central to my thoughts during the holidays, what with this pivotal section of the movie taking place over the Christmas and New Year holidays. So, in the spirit of the season I thought I’d share this beautiful scene with you, as it appears in Steve Kloves’ brilliant script. Merry Christmas!

52 EXT. STREET OUTSIDE MOONLIGHT – NIGHT

As Jack exits the hotel, he finds Susie standing on the sidewalk, shaking her purse. She sees the bag he’s carrying.

SUSIE

Ol’ Freckles in the kitchen slip you a stack of T-bones?

JACK

Not exactly.

Susie fishes a pack of cigarettes out of her purse. Empty.

SUSIE

Damnit!

Jack offers his pack.

SUSIE

No thanks. I never touch American cigarettes

(searching again)

Three fifty a pack and I go through ‘em like toothpicks.

JACK

Huh?

Susie hands Jack the empty cigarette box. It has an exotic design.

SUSIE

Paris Opals. Three fifty a pack. Know how much that is a piece?

JACK

Seventeen cents.

SUSIE

Seventeen and a half. But I figure, If you’re gonna be sticking something in your mouth, might as well make it the best.

JACK

As Jack ponders this, Frank steps outside in a lumpy Santa suit.

FRANK

What do you think?

Jack and Susie just stare.

FRANK

Thought I’d give the kids a thrill.

(moving off)

Don’t forget Monday. Bright and early. We’ve got a long drive.

As Frank leaves, Susie goes back to her purse.

SUSIE

I don’t know. It’s hard figuring you and egghead as brothers. Seems like the hospital might’ve scrambled the babies somewhere.

(finding an Opal)

Ah, here’s a lost soul.

Jack flicks out his lighter, snaps it. Susie inhales.

SUSIE

Mmm. Like kissing a rose. Well, au revoir.

JACK

(studying her)

You feel like a cup of coffee?

SUSIE

(looking up)

Now? On Christmas Eve?

Jack nods.

SUSIE

Nah. Gives me the shakes. Anyway, I’d better get home. Rest the pipes.

JACK

You want me to walk you?

Susie looks at Jack a little funny.

SUSIE

No. Thanks.

She starts to move away, then stops and looks back.

SUSIE

Hey, listen, you’re not going soft on me, are you? I mean, you’re not gonna start dreaming about me and waking up all sweaty and looking at me like I’m some kinda princess when I burp.

JACK

Forget it.

SUSIE

I mean, that’d be too creepy with us working together and all.

JACK

Forget it.

SUSIE

Nothing personal…

Jack holds up his hand. Susie just stands there.

JACK

Better hurry. You’re a nickel down on your cigarette.

7 thoughts on “Susie, Jack, and the Christmas Eve Coffee That Never Was

  1. Lovely post, pfabulous scene. Like you I often wonder about Jack and Susie. Are they spending Christmas together somewhere out there? I’d like to think they are. If you ask me why I think so, I’ll give you a one word answer. Intuition.
    Happy Christmas Michael!

    Liked by 1 person

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