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5 Great (Mostly) Forgotten Movies with Michelle Pfeiffer

Michelle Pfeiffer has been making films since the early 1980s, renowned for her classic beauty and elegance, she defied typecasting as a romantic lead and instead sought diverse and challenging roles that made her almost like a chameleon. She bounced around from comedy to drama to action and thriller, but always left critics impressed. Here are 5 great (mostly) forgotten films with Michelle Pfeiffer you need to see.

Into the Night (1985)

Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer (Into the Night, 1986)

Pfeiffer plays Diana, a jewel smuggler who, being chased by Iranians, lands on depressed insomniac Ed Okin’s (Jeff Goldblum) car and pleads with him to drive away. Taken by her beauty, he does and soon he’s acting like a taxi driver as she asks him to make some stops. He finds out she’s stolen many priceless emeralds from the Shah of Iran and is now being pursued by hitmen, one of which is a British expatriate (David Bowie). Soon Ed is caught up in the mess and it’s a mad dash about the city as the two try to keep the fortune but more importantly, stay alive.

Directed by John Landis, Into the Night is a bit of a screwball comedy mixed with some not-so-dangerous thrills, but is a lot of fun. Tons of cameo insider movie people that some felt was distracting, but not many would even know, the film succeeds solely on Goldblum, who pretty much set the standard for a Goldblum performance with this, and of course, the luminous Pfeiffer, who is radiant throughout, making it easy to miss just how good she is as an actress with great comedic timing and an eye for drama. Watch this movie.

One Fine Day (1996)

Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer (One Fine Day, 1996)

Pfeiffer plays Melanie Parker opposite George Clooney as Jack Taylor. Both young professionals, divorced and with small children, circumstances have them spending the day with their kids when they both miss their school field trip. It’s complicated when, despite their hectic schedules, they accidentally swap cellphones, leaving them answering calls for the other all day. As deadlines approach and the kids cause mischief, the two eventually work out their differences and start to share some feelings.

Directed by Michael Hoffman, One Fine Day is a straight-forward romantic comedy that does nothing more than follow the rules of the genre, but,Clooney is fun and Pfeiffer is exceptional. She carries this film from the first moment on and never misses a beat, even when the screenplay lets her down. Beautiful, charming, funny and most of all intelligent, this is a great character that should have have a better story in which to shine, but she still manages to make this one work.

The Russia House (1990)

Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer, Sean Connery (The Russia House, 1990)

Pfeiffer plays Katya, a young beautiful woman trying to pass Soviet secrets to the West via manuscript papers. She is meant to put the latest in the hands of Bartholomew “Barley” Scott-Blair (Sean Connery), the head of a British publishing firm, but loses him at an event. By connections that fail, the two are implicated by British and CIA agents plus Soviet interrogators, causing Blair to trust Katya, who he instantly falls in love with, warming his cold and cynical heart. It’s a game of cat and mouse involving technology and secrets that never become entirely clear but aren’t meant to. This is a love story in a place where there is no place for love.

Directed by Fred SchepisiThe Russia House is a based on the John le Carré’s novel of the same name and is a solid if flawed thriller that is grounded by a lot of talk. That said, it is still a fun film made great by Connery and especially Pfeiffer, who is simply perfect as the enigmatic and sensuous Katya. While the story suffers from a steadfast grip on the spy-genre formula, Pfeiffer elevates her every scene and makes this one of her best roles.

Married to the Mob (1988)

Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer (Married to the Mob, 1988)

Pfeiffer plays Angela de Marco, the beautiful wife of mobster up-start Frank “The Cucumber” de Marco (Alec Baldwin). Problem is, The Cucumber is having an affair with Karen (Nancy Travis), Mob boss Tony “The Tiger” Russo’s (Dean Stockwell) mistress. And this, gets his a date with the fishes. Now Angela wants out but gets hit on by The Tiger at The Cucumber’s funerals, which has FBI agents Mike Downey (Matthew Modine) and Ed Benitez (Oliver Platt), who are watching everything, thinking Angela is mixed in more than they think.

Directed by Jonathan DemmeMarried to the Mob, is a very funny screwball comedy that also found great balance with some romance. The ensemble cast works really well together and Pfeiffer especially is at the top of her comedic game, using her sex appeal and nice-girl charms to give what is essentially her star-making performance, and what some might consider the best she’s ever done. Lost in the bigger titles of her later career, this gem is an absolute must see for fans of the genre, but mostly for Pfeiffer.

 The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)

Michelle Pfeiffer
Michelle Pfeiffer (The Fabulous Baker Boys, 1989)

Okay, so maybe not forgotten, this movie is criminally under-seen and while it is famous mostly for what Pfeiffer does on top of a piano, there is a lot more here than just a stunning woman singing sultry (though that helps a lot). Pfeiffer plays Susie Diamond, the last to audition for a brother’s piano lounge act looking to rejuvenate their slagging careers by adding a singer. She does just that and then comes between them. Supporting real life brothers Beau and Jeff Bridges, this is a wonderfully moody, sexy, moving story about music, art, romance and love of many things.

Directed by Steve KlovesThe Fabulous Baker Boys is a great character film that doesn’t necessarily re-invent the wheel, but does give it some polished spin. While both Bridges are very good and are the core of the story, it is Pfeiffer who utterly steals the show, her sweat-inducing rendition of ‘Makin’ Whoopie” atop a grand piano while in a skin-tight slinky flame red dress is legendary, and deservedly so, but she is also remarkably heartfelt and earns high marks for holding her own with her co-stars. This is a film that has fallen off the list of most but needs to be back on top.

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3 Comments

  1. vinnieh April 17, 2016
  2. Jestak April 18, 2016