The first time Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges have acted in a film together. Some of the disagreements between the Baker Boys are based upon actual differences between the Bridges.
Michelle Pfeiffer hadn't sung in a year when she got the part of Susie Diamond. She had to practice for ten hours a day in the studio, and then took the tapes home with her to study them.
Although Dave Grusin recorded the songs for the movie soundtrack, Beau Bridges and Jeff Bridges both learned to play all the songs in the film. To make their playing appear realistic, the actors watched videotapes of Grusin's hands playing the music.
One of Jeff Bridges' favorite parts of shooting the movie was choreographing the fight scene, which takes place after their disastrous telethon appearance with his brother Beau.
Brothers Dennis Quaid and Randy Quaid turned down the roles of brothers Jack Baker and Frank Baker. Dennis Quaid would later be directed by Steve Kloves in Flesh and Bone (1993).
The iconic famous "Makin' Whooppee" scene on the piano was choreographed. It took six hours to shoot it. Michelle Pfeiffer only had one choreography lesson, and wore knee and elbow pads during rehearsals. The red velvet evening dress that Pfeiffer wears during the sequence was designed by the film's Costume Designer Lisa Jensen.
Michelle Pfeiffer's debut performance with the Baker Boys (in which she sings "Ten Cents A Dance") takes place in the Cloud Room, on the top floor of Seattle's Camlin Hotel. Opened in 1947, the Cloud Room was a famous nightclub, attracting big-name talents such as Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra. It closed in 2003, and the top floor of the Camlin was converted into condo suites.
Beau Bridges was not balding, but the script called for him to have a bald spot as Frank. In a 2014 interview, it was revealed that Jeff cut the bald spot into Beau's hair. Jeff explained, "So he let me - we had a couple of glasses of wine - and he allowed me to cut the bald patch on the back of his head." "Stupid move," Beau shot back.
Debra Winger was offered the female lead of Susie Diamond, but turned it down, it in the end was cast with Michelle Pfeiffer.
When this film first went into development in 1986, 20th Century Fox wanted Bill Murray and Chevy Chase to star.
Madonna was originally approached for the role of Susie Diamond that went to Michelle Pfeiffer. Madonna turned it down because she thought that the plot was "too mushy."
Jodie Foster and Jennifer Jason Leigh were in talks to play Susie, which in the end was cast with Michelle Pfeiffer.
It was jazz musician Johnny Hammond who suggested "More Than You Know" as the song that Michelle Pffeiffer sings for her audition for the Baker Brothers. He said that the song was easier for her voice and to perform.
After the film was released in September 1989 in only 800 theaters and selling out each viewing in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles thanks to word of mouth. The executive of marketing and distribution at Fox, Tom Sherrock called Writer/Director Steve Kloves on a Monday morning, admitted that they made a mistake in not supporting or releasing the film even wider than it had gotten. Kloves states "that if the film had been released wider, the theatrical result would've been a lot different."
Along with Oscar Winner Dave Grusin, jazz musician and recording artist Johnny Hammond was the other half of the piano performances of Jeff and Beau Bridges. Jeff however was a real musician and knew how to play, but Beau was more amateurish. Grusin at that point was a lot more polished and it is mostly his and Hammond's piano solos that you hear in the film's final mix.
According to Writer/Director Steve Kloves, there are two scenes in the film that run around seven minutes long that is nothing but pure dialog which is quite rare nowadays.
As part of the deal to make the film, Sydney Pollack retained the Director's Cut. He then relinquished them to Steve Kloves.
Brooke Shields turned down the role of Susie Diamond, which in the end was cast with Michelle Pfeiffer.
When George Roy Hill was attached to direct, Writer/Director Steve Kloves pitched the idea of casting the late Whitney Houston as Suzie Diamond. Kloves had heard her sing just as she was starting to become a superstar and he and Hill went to a concert that she was performing at Carnege Hall in New York. After the concert, Hill agreed to the idea of Houston and immediately wanted to change the films' downbeat ending to the Baker brothers along with Suzie heading to Las Vegas and being a great success. Kloves cut him off and told Hill that he would not change the ending to the film regardless if Houston was cast.
Before the fight between Frank and Jack after the telethon, Writer/Director Steve Kloves asked Beau Bridges if it was true that he turned down the Ryan O'Neal part in "Love Story" in which Beau said it was true and was still angry about it after all those years. Using that as motivation for the scene, Beau actually went toe to toe with his brother Jeff. Jeff would accidentally break his finger in the scene as a result of it.
The scene where Jeff Bridges and Michelle Pffeiffer have their little foreplay between them using the different objects like the shaving cream, the butter on the bread, etc. The scene was not working so Writer/Director Steve Kloves told the crew to take an hour break to confer with Bridges, Pffeiffer, and Director of Photography Michael Ballhaus and how to make scene work. Kloves had just simplified it and it became one of his favorite scenes in the film.
Michelle Pfeiffer won the following Best Actress awards from the following critics' circles and associations for her performance as Susie Diamond in this film: The New York Film Critics Circle, the National Society of Film Critics, Chicago Film Critics Association Award, and the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the latter of which she tied for the gong with Andie MacDowell for Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989). Pfeiffer was also both nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role Academy Award and the Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) by the American Comedy Awards and won the Golden Globe Award for the Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - "Drama", this not being in the Golden Globes sister category of "Comedy or Musical" despite the film's comedic and musical elements.
The only 1989 released cinema movie that featured Michelle Pfeiffer after she had appeared in three pictures that had debuted in 1988: Tequila Sunrise (1988), Married to the Mob (1988), and Dangerous Liaisons (1988).
Actresses who were offered the lead female role of Susie Diamond or were considered included: Madonna, Debra Winger, Brooke Shields, Jodie Foster, and Jennifer Jason Leigh. The part in the end was cast with Michelle Pfeiffer.
When the film was in development at Warner Bros., George Roy Hill had been attached to direct it and actually worked with Writer and eventual Director Steve Kloves on it for six weeks in New York. However, a differences in regards to the films' ending made Hill back off the project and eventually, Kloves was chosen because no one else wanted to direct the movie.
The film had a troubled development period which was first held by Warner Bros. when Mark Canton was running the studio who loved the project, but after he left the studio to run Columbia Pictures, his replacement did not like the movie and held onto it because many A-list actors including the likes of Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and others liked Steve Kloves' screenplay and wanted to make the film. Eventually, Sydney Pollack and his producing partner, Mark Rosenberg who were on board and supported the project from the beginning forced Warner's hand to put the film into turnaround and take it another studio to make the film. The film then ended up at Gladden Entertainment, who also did not want to make the film, and since David Beigelman, the head of the studio had made a profit of 3 million dollars in foreign rights for the film green lit it. However, the troubles continued since the studio had a distribution deal with Twentieth Century-Fox that was apart of the studio's old regime, Beigelman and Fox head, Barry Diller were having their own personal issues with one another which somewhat hampered the project and caused the film to open small in September 1989. However, as the film was receiving critical raves and was doing exceptionally well at the box office despite the limited theater runs, Diller then opened the film in wider release culminating as surprise box office hit and nominated for more then seven Academy Awards.
The film is Seattle, Washington, however it was filmed in Los Angeles. Production Designer Jeffery Townsend scouted locations around LA that matched the vibe and look of Seattle that you really could not tell that it was not.
Final theatrical feature film directed by Steve Kloves for four years, until Flesh and Bone (1993) which is the last cinema movie to have been directed by Kloves (as of March 2017), who predominantly has worked as a screenwriter, and has now become a producer as well.
The name of the nightclub where Susie Diamond and the Fabulous Baker Boys performed was the "Starfire Lounge".
The majority of the film was shot at night which was why Writer/Director Steve Kloves hired Production Designer Jeffery Townsend because loved his work on Martin Scosesse's work on the black comedy "After Hours", which was shot almost entirely at night and also hiring Director of Photography Michael Ballhaus to add to Townsend's stellar production design.
The film marked the second consecutive Oscar nomination for Best Original Score by Oscar Winner Dave Grusin. He had finally won in 1988 for Robert Redford's "The Milagro Beanfield War" and his third consecutive nomination to date was for his friend and Director Sydney Pollack's 1990 film, "Havana", that starred Redford in his first starring role since "Out of Africa" in 1985 which Pollack also directed. He would also receive one final Oscar nomination for the adaptation of John Grisham's novel "The Firm" in 1993 again for Pollack.
Writer/Director Steve Kloves had the full support of Sydney Pollack and Mark Rosenberg throughout the entire production and if a problem arose, they'd had to answer to Pollack or Rosenberg.
Brothers Jeff Bridges and Beau Bridges, who portray the characters of Jack Baker and Frank Baker respectively, who are also brothers.