Thursday, March 30, 2017

Michelle Pfeiffer, Catwoman in "Batman Returns"

Michelle Pfeiffer, Sexy Catwoman

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com
Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in "Batman Returns."

Michelle Pfeiffer already was well established as a Hollywood star when she took on Tim Burton's "Batman Returns" (Warner Bros.) with Michael Keaton in 1992. Catwoman had not been seen in the 1989 Jack Nicholson "Batman," so there hadn't been a chance to update the Catwoman image since the original Batman television series that ran in the mid-1960s (Halle Berry starred in a film called "Catwoman" in 2004, but it actually was a different character, the film wasn't a big, splashy blockbuster or television series and she did win a "Razzie" for it, so her performance didn't really change the image). That's a long time.

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com

Michelle Pfeiffer thus was free to put her own stamp on the role in a widely viewed blockbuster that a lot of people were sure to see due to the success of the 1989 "Batman." That Michelle did, and to this day, there are many who think that she performed the Catwoman role better than anyone else, before or since.

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com
“Seems like every woman you try to save ends up dead… or deeply resentful.”

There is a lot of discussion about who played Catwoman better, Michelle Pfeiffer or Anne Hathaway or Halle Berry or, for that matter:
  • Julie Newmar (Julie Newmar, Batman TV show (1966-1967))
  • Eartha Kitt (Batman TV show (1967-1968))
  • Lee Meriwether (Batman: The Movie’ (1966))
or maybe even someone else. This article is not a comparison, and all of these ladies brought new dimensions to the role. We all have our favorites, and we can like all the performances, but personally I think it's no contest as to who did it best. I'll leave it at that, and I'm sure you have your own view on who did it best, too.

Michelle Pfeiffer legends.filminspector.com
Michael Keaton did fine as Batman, but he got upstaged.

We're also going to focus on another Pfeiffer film with a lower profile. Michelle starred in "Grease 2." That was Michelle's first starring role and proved a valuable springboard to stardom for her despite widely being considered a creative failure.

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com
Michelle Pfeiffer followed her Catwoman role with that of Elvira Hancock in "Scarface." Great film. Michelle did great. Al Pacino was iconic. "Say hello to my little friend." But, it's not Michelle's film.

If you had to pick two milestones in Michelle Pfeiffer's career, well, those are my two picks, "Batman Returns" and "Grease 2." I know, "that's totally arbitrary for sure.

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com
Cats are always good at licking.

I simply don't think that her roles in "Scarface" or "Ladyhawke" or "Dangerous Liaisons" or "The Witches of Eastwick" or "The Age of Innocence" or "Wolf" or "Dark Shadows" or anything else Michelle Pfeiffer has done has made as much of an impact as those two roles. And I know what you're probably thinking, "Okay, the Batman movie sure, but come on, 'Grease 2'?"

Michelle Pfeiffer legends.filminspector.com
Michelle looks like she had just run a sprint before this take. This is terrific acting.

Few remember "Grease 2" other than perhaps as a terrible sequel to the original (it wasn't that terrible, but people like to slap labels on things). Let's face it, Olivia Newton-John in the original "Grease" was an impossible act to follow and owns the whole "Grease" image forever and ever. But Michelle did great in her film, it's not her fault that she was following an act that was... impossible to follow. "Grease 2" marked her breakthrough, and she might not have gotten the other roles without it. Plus... she gets to pal around with John Travolta and Olivia at "Grease" reunions (which happen with some regularity). So she has that going for her.

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com


Anyway, let's get on with it and visit with the delightful Michelle Pfeiffer.

Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman

In "Batman Returns," Michelle plays Selina Kyle. Selina is a mild-mannered secretary who is thrown off a building and transformed into Catwoman. She was perfect for the part, her classic good looks transferring perfectly into the catsuit-wearing enemy of Batman.

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com
A rare shot of Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman outdoors in direct sunlight. You don't see that too often, Catwoman almost always is portrayed either at night or indoors, certainly not posing in bright light.

There are so many "Batman" productions floating around - they didn't start with the 1960s Adam West television series, either, they go back to the 1940s - that they can sort of blend together. But Catwoman only appears in a portion of them.

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com
How can you look at this and not at least smile? "This is how you do it."

It's almost like a separate industry: who was the best Batman? The best Joker? There are so many brilliant portrayals to choose from in each category that you can get fierce arguments over as simple a thing as who played Catwoman best. Personally, I think that Michelle's performance is great because it emphasizes the cartoony, hammy side of the character. That doesn't necessarily mean I think it was "the best," just that she really brought something special to her role.

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com


Why was Michelle's performance so good? The whole schtick is not "Hamlet," and Michelle obviously knows that. The idea is to "vamp it up" without going too far. Pfeiffer is "in on the joke," but she stays in character enough to bring out the humor in the whole concept and not turn it into a farce or make it sleazy. She lets her Id run wild without letting it completely leave the Reservation. That's tough to do.

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com

Michelle Pfeiffer did an excellent job as Catwoman. You may not agree that she was the best - you'll never get agreement on something like that - but perhaps you'll admit she brought something new to the role that hadn't been there before.

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns celebrityleatherfashions.filminspector.com

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com

Michelle Pfeiffer Catwoman Batman Returns legends.filminspector.com


Michelle Pfeiffer In Grease 2

In "Grease 2," Michelle Pfeiffer was up against the memory of Olivia Newton-John, who set the standard for the "Grease" ingenue for all time. She did as well as she could, and looks fabulous in stills from the film. That the film did not live up to its predecessor and was quickly forgotten is not her fault.

Michelle Pfeiffer Grease 2 legends.filminspector.com
Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield, stars of "Grease 2."

Michelle Pfeiffer Grease 2 legends.filminspector.com
Michelle Pfeiffer singing in "Grease 2."

Michelle Pfeiffer Out and About

Just a couple of shots of Michelle Pfeiffer wearing what she likes in her personal life and other endeavors.

Michelle Pfeiffer legends.filminspector.com
Michelle Pfeiffer always looks classy.

Michelle Pfeiffer legends.filminspector.com
Michelle Pfeiffer looking very relaxed in 2010.

Michelle Pfeiffer legends.filminspector.com

Michelle Pfeiffer legends.filminspector.com



2017

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