The Greats of our Time

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Michelle Pfeiffer – by Jeremiah Christopher

Michelle Marie Pfeiffer born April 29, 1958) is an American actress and producer. One of the most popular actresses of the 1980s and 1990s, she has received international acclaim and many accolades for her work in both comedic and dramatic films. Noted for her versatility as a character actress, Pfeiffer has become particularly known for portraying nuanced and unglamorous, emotionally distant women as well as strong female characters with intense sex appeal. Pfeiffer is widely considered to be among the most talented actresses of her generation.

Pfeiffer began to pursue an acting career in 1978. After accepting several minor roles in television series and films, her first leading role was in the musical film Grease 2 (1982), the sequel to the popular 1978 film which, despite being critically and commercially unsuccessful, increased public interest in Pfeiffer. Frustrated with being typecast as the token pretty girl, Pfeiffer actively pursued more serious material. She received strong reviews for her breakout performance as gangster moll Elvira Hancock in the crime film Scarface (1983), and while her performance as one-third of the titular trio in the dark fantasy The Witches of Eastwick (1987) proved to be one of her first box office successes, Pfeiffer’s starring role in Married to the Mob (1988), in which she was cast against type as a mobster’s widow, earned the actress her first of several consecutive Golden Globe Award nominations. Her subsequent roles in Dangerous Liaisons (1988) and The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989) garnered her two Academy Award nominations, for Best Supporting Actress and Best Actress, respectively; her sultry performance as lounge singer Susie Diamond in the latter is considered to be the most critically acclaimed of her career.

After starring as the titular waitress in the romantic comedy Frankie and Johnny (1991), Pfeiffer achieved widespread recognition as Catwoman / Selina Kyle in Tim Burton’s superhero film Batman Returns (1992); Pfeiffer’s interpretation is widely regarded as one of the most definitive portrayals of the comic book character. She earned a third Academy Award nomination for Love Field (1992) before starring in the critically acclaimed The Age of Innocence (1993), followed by Wolf (1994), What Lies Beneath (2000), and White Oleander (2002). During this time, she also produced a series of films under her production company Via Rosa Productions. After a five-year hiatus from film acting, she appeared in Hairspray (2007), Chéri (2009), and Dark Shadows (2012). She received her first Emmy Award nomination for portraying Ruth Madoff in the HBO television film The Wizard of Lies (2017), and garnered further critical acclaim for her role in Where Is Kyra? (2017). She also appeared in the ensemble films Murder on the Orient Express (2017) and Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018). She will appear in the upcoming film Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019).

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The first film l saw Michelle Pfeiffer in was Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen and l have followed her ever since, totally fabulous actress. Below are my 17 favourite films of his, tell me yours at the bottom in the comments section.

Charlie Chan and the Curse of the Dragon Queen 1981

The retired detective (Peter Ustinov) and his clumsy grandson (Richard Hatch) probe murders in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

1 – Grease 2 – 1982

Stephanie Zinone (Michelle Pfeiffer) is the leader of Rydell High School’s Pink Ladies, a gang of girls who are counterparts of the school’s group of greasers called the T-Birds. Stephanie is tired of her relationship with top T-Bird Johnny Nogerelli (Adrian Zmed), so she breaks up with him and quickly catches the eye of English exchange student Michael Carrington (Maxwell Caulfield). Hoping to win her over, Michael tries to overcome his nerdy ways while holding off the jealous Johnny.

2 – Scarface – 1983

After getting a green card in exchange for assassinating a Cuban government official, Tony Montana (Al Pacino) stakes a claim on the drug trade in Miami. Viciously murdering anyone who stands in his way, Tony eventually becomes the biggest drug lord in the state, controlling nearly all the cocaine that comes through Miami. But increased pressure from the police, wars with Colombian drug cartels and his own drug-fueled paranoia serve to fuel the flames of his eventual downfall.

3 – The Fabulous Baker Boys – 1989

Frank (Beau Bridges) and Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges) are brothers who have performed together in a small but successful piano act for years. However, their lack of ambition hurts them — they begin losing gigs, and are soon relegated to run-down venues. Attempting to infuse new life into their act, the brothers audition singers and choose the stunning Susie Diamond (Michelle Pfeiffer). The new lineup brings success, but a growing attraction between Susie and Jack threatens the trio’s stability.

4 – Dangerous Liasons – 1988

The Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) and the Vicomte de Valmont (John Malkovich) display the petty jealousies and jaded insouciance of life in France’s royal court in the 18th century, casually ruining the lives of de Merteuil’s young romantic rival (Uma Thurman), the music teacher (Keanu Reeves) for whom she secretly pines and the upstanding Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer). But when actual romantic feelings begin to surface, their games take on a more treacherous air.

5 – Hairspray – 2007

In 1960s Baltimore, dance-loving teen Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) auditions for a spot on “The Corny Collins Show” and wins. She becomes an overnight celebrity, a trendsetter in dance, fun and fashion. Perhaps her new status as a teen sensation is enough to topple Corny’s reigning dance queen and bring racial integration to the show.

6 – Married to the Mob – 1988

Angela de Marco (Michelle Pfeiffer) is fed up with her gangster husband’s (Alec Baldwin) line of work and wants no part of the crime world. When her husband is killed for having an affair with the mistress of mob boss Tony “The Tiger” Russo (Dean Stockwell), Angela and her son depart for New York City to make a fresh start. Unfortunately, Tony has set his sights upon Angela — and so has an undercover FBI agent (Matthew Modine) looking to use her to bust Tony.

7 – Batman Returns – 1992

The monstrous Penguin (Danny DeVito), who lives in the sewers beneath Gotham, joins up with wicked shock-headed businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walken) to topple the Batman (Michael Keaton) once and for all. But when Shreck’s timid assistant, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer), finds out, and Shreck tries to kill her, she is transformed into the sexy Catwoman. She teams up with the Penguin and Shreck to destroy Batman, but sparks fly unexpectedly when she confronts the caped crusader.

8 – The Age of Innocence – 1993

Wealthy lawyer Newland Archer (Daniel Day-Lewis) is engaged to sweet socialite May Welland (Winona Ryder) in 1870s New York. On the surface, it is a perfect match. But when May’s beautiful cousin Countess Ellen Olenska (Michelle Pfeiffer), who is estranged from her brutish husband, arrives in town, Newland begins to question the meaning of passion and love as he desperately pursues a relationship with Ellen, even though she has been made a social outcast by Archer’s peers.

9 – Frankie and Johnny – 1991

When Johnny (Al Pacino) is released from prison following a forgery charge, he quickly lands a job as a short-order cook at a New York diner. Following a brief fling with waitress Cora (Kate Nelligan), Frankie develops an attraction for Cora’s friend and fellow waitress Frankie (Michelle Pfeiffer). While Frankie resists Johnny’s charms initially, she eventually relents when her best friend, Tim (Nathan Lane), persuades her to give Johnny a chance.

10 – Stardust – 2007

To win the heart of his beloved (Sienna Miller), a young man named Tristan (Charlie Cox) ventures into the realm of fairies to retrieve a fallen star. What Tristan finds, however, is not a chunk of space rock, but a woman (Claire Danes) named Yvaine. Yvaine is in great danger, for the king’s sons need her powers to secure the throne, and an evil witch (Michelle Pfeiffer) wants to use her to achieve eternal youth and beauty.

11 – Sweet Liberty – 1986

Michael has written a scholarly book on the revolutionary war. He has sold the film rights. The arrival of the film crew seriously disrupts him as actors want to change their characters, directors want to re-stage battles, and he becomes very infatuated with Faith who will play the female lead in the movie. At the same time, he is fighting with his crazy mother who thinks the Devil lives in her kitchen.

12 – Ladyhawke – 1985

Upon breaking out of a dungeon, youthful thief Phillipe Gaston (Matthew Broderick) befriends Capt. Navarre (Rutger Hauer), a man with a strange secret. Navarre and his lover Lady Isabeau d’Anjou (Michelle Pfeiffer) were cursed by the wicked Bishop of Aquila (John Wood), who desires Lady Isabeau for himself. His dark magic prevents the pair from ever being in each other’s presence except at twilight, so they enlist Gaston in a dangerous plot to overthrow the Bishop and break his evil enchantment.

13 – The Witches of Eastwick – 1987

Three small-town friends, Alexandra (Cher), Jane (Susan Sarandon) and Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer), each having lost the man in their lives, are feeling unfulfilled — until a furtive stranger, Daryl Van Horne (Jack Nicholson), arrives and begins courting each of them in turn. Eventually, Daryl tells them that they are witches. But as the three friends spend more time at his mansion, enjoying themselves and learning about their powers, they begin to worry about Daryl’s ultimate intentions.

14 – Tequilla Sunrise – 1988

In a seaside California town, best friends Mac (Mel Gibson) and Nick (Kurt Russell) are on opposite sides of the law. Mac is a former drug dealer trying to clean up his act, while Nick is a high-profile detective trying to take down a Mexican drug lord named Carlos (Raul Julia). Soon Nick’s loyalties are put to the test when he begins an affair with restaurateur Jo Ann (Michelle Pfeiffer) — a love interest of Mac’s — unwittingly leading his friend into a police-orchestrated trap.

15 – Dangerous Minds – 1995

Former Marine Louanne Johnson (Michelle Pfeiffer) lands a gig teaching in a pilot program for bright but underachieving teens at a notorious inner-city high school. After having a terrible first day, she decides she must throw decorum to the wind. When Johnson returns to the classroom, she does so armed with a no-nonsense attitude informed by her military training and a fearless determination to better the lives of her students — no matter what the cost.

16 – The Family – 2013

After ratting out his Mafia cohorts, Giovanni Manzioni (Robert De Niro) and his family enter the Witness Protection Program and relocate to a French town. Despite the best efforts of their handler (Tommy Lee Jones) to keep them in line, Giovanni (now called Fred Blake), his wife (Michelle Pfeiffer) and children (Dianna Agron, John D’Leo) can’t help but resort to doing things the “family” way. However, their dependence on such old habits places everyone in danger from vengeful mobsters

17 – What Lies Beneath – 2000

It had been a year since Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford) betrayed his beautiful wife Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer). But with Claire oblivious to the truth, Norman’s life and marriage seem so perfect that when Claire tells him of hearing mysterious voices and seeing a young woman’s image in their home, he dismisses her terror as delusion. Claire moves closer to the truth and it becomes clear that this apparition will not be dismissed, and has come back for Dr. Spencer and his beautiful wife.

BONUS

So there we go the best performances of Al Pacino in my eyes, what are yours?

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