The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989)
Main Menu Audio & Animation
|Year Of Production||1989|
|RSDL / Flipper||No/No||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||Steve Kloves|
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||Full Screen, not known whether Pan & Scan or Full Frame||English Dolby Digital 2.0 (224Kb/s)|
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||None|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.85:1||Miscellaneous|
|Subtitles||None||Smoking||Yes, near continuous smoking forms plot point|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
The film opens with Frank (Beau Bridges) and Jack (Jeff Bridges) Baker playing a cocktail lounge piano duet show - their regular professional gig for more than 15 years. The trouble is that the show is becoming dated and repetitive, even down to Frank's little off-the-cuff banter. For Frank, that's just part of his life - a necessary one if he's to continue supporting his family and modest home from the show income. Jack has a totally different outlook on life. Single, with a procession of short-lived relationships, living in a simple city studio apartment, he wonders where life is drifting to. His lack of enthusiasm simply hides his real desire to play serious jazz, and his greater ability than his brother inevitably leads him to feel resentment.
Failing bookings force them to expand their act to include a singer, and audition number 38 introduces us to Susie Diamond (the sultry Michelle Pfeiffer), a former escort girl with just the right Marilyn Monroe sound to get the fabulous Baker boys well and truly back into the limelight. Right from the start it's clear that Susie's rough background and uncompromising attitude will be more than enough to pry open the differences that exist between the Baker brothers. The sexual tension that develops between her and Jack during the film's second act is palpable and culminates in a gorgeous stage performance of "Making Whoopee" for which the film seems to be best remembered.
The film is concerned only with the lives and inter-relationships of these three characters. Even Frank's family, who so define his life, are never seen - the closest we get to his family is a nice little scene in his den at home with Jack. The important theme that runs throughout the film is the question of whether one should follow one's dreams or submit to one's responsibilities. There are no great conclusions drawn - this is not a preachy film. It is rather more like a gentle stroll in the company of a few friends.
My guess is that most of the faults of the transfer (and, to be fair, they're not overly bad) stem from the age of the original material. The image has a consistent softness to it that is least severe in the few external daylight scenes. Shadow detail is poor but there is no low level noise. There is what might be described as a pasty feel to some of the scenes.
Colours are generally well rendered, with some examples of fairly high saturation levels, again in the daylight scenes.
I was very happily surprised to find that the transfer lacks virtually any type of video artefact. The print from which the image came looks close to pristine, meaning no scratches or other marks, and there are no compression artefacts to be seen. What is very odd is the chapter structure of the disc. In fact, the film itself is spread over three titles:- Title #3 runs 51:01 minutes over 8 chapters, Title #4 runs 50:03 minutes over 5 chapters and Title #5 runs 7:51 minutes over 2 chapters (of which Chapter 1 runs a grand total of 10 seconds!!). Unfortunately, the breaks between Titles are anything but smooth - my first impression was that I was watching my first 3 layered DVD! Not only that, but it's impossible to backtrack once you've passed a Title break.
The critical exception is in the area of the music, essentially the heart and soul of the film. All of the music is produced with power and depth, with good use made of the surround speakers to create a very definite 3 dimensional feel.
|Surround Channel Use|
NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.
The Fabulous Baker Boys doesn't compete with big budget effects-laden films. Rather it offers a quiet night's entertainment and some cause for reflection. I found the experience of watching it for the first time (after having listened to the CD soundtrack for years) most worthwhile.
|DVD||Toshiba SD-K310, using S-Video output|
|Display||Pioneer SD-T43W1 (125cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.|
|Speakers||Richter Wizard (front), Jamo SAT150 (rear), Yamaha YST-SW120 (subwoofer)|