Fabulous Baker Boys, The (1989)

The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), written and directed by Steve Kloves.

Two brothers (Beau and Jeff Bridges) have had a nightclub piano act all their adult lives. Scraping by, making a living, one is pretty happy with the life. The introverted younger brother hates it. He is a skilled, perhaps inspired jazz pianist, but lacks the courage to strike out on his own.

The catalyst for their split is new singer Michelle Pfeiffer, a former professional escort with no lack of courage.

Want to make a film without much money? First time director? With a good script, good casting and an experienced cinematographer you can still make a great movie. Both funny and a little sad, but without bleakness. An invocation of club life, both elegant and shabby, and the contrast of talent and mediocrity. Do they make them like this anymore?

Score by Dave Grusin who also dubs Jeff Bridges' piano. (Both brothers could really play, which helps their performances).

Set in Seattle and partly filmed there.

Available on Blu-ray from Twilight Time.

The first commentary track has Nick Redman and Julie Kirgo interviewing the director:

The second commentary track is by cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, made for DVD ten years after the film. It is sometimes intermittent ("I get caught up watching the film", he says) but has often interesting details on lighting and lenses, and the creative interchange while making a good movie like this one.

He says the brothers really fought during the fight scene. Jeff drank a little to get into the mood and Beau got a broken finger.

"People sometimes comment on my style. I try not to have one. Every film is different".