Michelle Pfeiffer in an adaptation of Colette’s Chéri (Photo courtesy of Miramax)

There was a brief spell in the late 1980s when Michelle Pfeiffer had me completely enamored. Granted, our romance lasted only two films, Married to the Mob and The Fabulous Baker Boys, but that is longer than some romances last, whether onscreen or in life.

I haven’t seen either movie for well over ten years; I’ve no idea if I would recognize in them now what spoke to me so clearly then, but in the summer of ’88, seeing Married to the Mob, what would prove to be Jonathan Demme’s last film of pure delight before he turned falsely serious, became almost a weekly ritual, with me slipping into matinees six or seven times. In retrospect, it may have been the animus between Mercedes Ruehl and Dean Stockwell that kept me coming back for more, and most of what gave Mob its kick—its subliminal weirdness, such as the Chris Isaak robbery sequence—had nothing to do with Pfeiffer. Nonetheless, the actress stopped being merely pretty when she worked with Demme and later with Steve Kloves in his valentine to jazz obscurity: she became interesting, too, and . . .

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