Johnny Cool (1963)

101 mins | Melodrama | 2 October 1963

Director:

William Asher

Writer:

Joseph Landon

Producer:

William Asher

Editor:

Otto Ludwig

Production Designer:

Frank T. Smith

Production Company:

Chrislaw Productions
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HISTORY

The 20 Nov 1961 DV announced actor-producer Peter Lawford’s upcoming project, The Kingdom of Johnny Cool, based on John McPartland’s 1959 novel of the same name. The film would star George Chakiris, and feature every major actor who ever played a gangster, including Edward G. Robinson. Chakiris was later replaced by Henry Silva, and Robinson did not appear in the completed picture. On 16 May 1962, DV stated that Lawford planned location filming in San Clemente, CA, or on nearby Santa Catalina Island, rather than the Italian island of Sicily, where the story was originally set. The news item referred to the picture by its official title, Johnny Cool. According to the 22 Mar 1962 DV, the title was briefly changed to The Kingdom of Johnny Kool. The 18 Jul 1962 DV reported that Lawford briefly reconsidered shooting sequences in Sicily featuring Orson Welles. Later that month, the 31 Jul 1962 DV stated that the producer was scouting locations on the East Coast, and intended to cast Frank Sinatra in a minor role. Neither Welles’s nor Sinatra’s participation has been determined. The 9 Aug 1962 DV announced Inger Stevens as the female lead, but she was replaced the following week by Elizabeth Montgomery, as reported in the 17 Aug 1962 DV. The 4 Sep 1962 DV identified shooting locations as Las Vegas, NV, Newport Beach and Hollywood, CA, and New York City. Principal photography began 17 Sep 1962, according to the 21 Sep 1962 DV. ... More Less

The 20 Nov 1961 DV announced actor-producer Peter Lawford’s upcoming project, The Kingdom of Johnny Cool, based on John McPartland’s 1959 novel of the same name. The film would star George Chakiris, and feature every major actor who ever played a gangster, including Edward G. Robinson. Chakiris was later replaced by Henry Silva, and Robinson did not appear in the completed picture. On 16 May 1962, DV stated that Lawford planned location filming in San Clemente, CA, or on nearby Santa Catalina Island, rather than the Italian island of Sicily, where the story was originally set. The news item referred to the picture by its official title, Johnny Cool. According to the 22 Mar 1962 DV, the title was briefly changed to The Kingdom of Johnny Kool. The 18 Jul 1962 DV reported that Lawford briefly reconsidered shooting sequences in Sicily featuring Orson Welles. Later that month, the 31 Jul 1962 DV stated that the producer was scouting locations on the East Coast, and intended to cast Frank Sinatra in a minor role. Neither Welles’s nor Sinatra’s participation has been determined. The 9 Aug 1962 DV announced Inger Stevens as the female lead, but she was replaced the following week by Elizabeth Montgomery, as reported in the 17 Aug 1962 DV. The 4 Sep 1962 DV identified shooting locations as Las Vegas, NV, Newport Beach and Hollywood, CA, and New York City. Principal photography began 17 Sep 1962, according to the 21 Sep 1962 DV. The 26 Sep 1962 edition reported that location filming was underway at the New Frontier hotel in Las Vegas. Lawford was also in town, performing at the Desert Inn. The 28 Sep 1962 issue identified Lawford and Sinatra’s Puccini Restaurant in Los Angeles, CA, as another location. On 12 Oct 1962, DV noted that Lawford loaned his Italian automobile to the production, and producer-director William Asher was cited for speeding while driving it to the set.
       A news item in the 21 Oct 1962 LAT described Elizabeth Montgomery as “the “most bruised actress in pictures,” based on the injuries she sustained during production. Among them were having a car door slammed on her hand, and contusions she suffered after leaping from a Newport Beach pier into a small boat. The actress also endured a staged rape scene, which was later omitted from release prints, according to the 1 Jul 1963 DV. The 23 Oct 1962 LAT stated that photography had been completed the previous week. It was also noted that the picture marked the screen debut of George Savalas, brother of Telly Savalas.
       On 7 Dec 1962, DV announced that a fifteen-minute promotional documentary about the making of Johnny Cool would be broadcast that evening on ABC Television. Six months later, the 14 Jun 1963 DV predicted that the $500,000 picture would quickly recover production costs during its release over the coming Labor Day weekend. Lawford and cast member Sammy Davis, Jr., hosted a preview screening for members of the entertainment industry at the Huntridge Theater in Las Vegas, as noted in the 17 Jun 1963 DV. According to the 12 Aug 1963 DV, Davis also appeared in a series of trailers for the film, under the direction of Max Weinberg.
       Casting announcements included actress Wanda Hendrix, who returned to the screen after a long absence (26 Sep 1962 DV); Dick Knigh (1 Oct 1962 DV); Billy Snyder and Matty Jordan, maître d’hotel of La Scala restaurant (2 Oct 1962 DV); Elizabeth Perry, John Apone, Sparky Kaye, Danny Jacobs, Jimmy Cavanaugh, and Jimmy Durante (8 Oct 1962 DV); Tom Geis (17 Oct 1962 DV); and Nick Orsi (18 Oct 1962 DV). The 27 Sep 1962 DV revealed that veteran property man Irving Sindler appeared on screen as a train conductor at New York City’s Grand Central Station.
       Johnny Cool was scheduled to premiere 30 Aug 1963 at the Woods Theatre in Chicago, IL, as stated in the 21 Aug 1963 DV. Lawford was unable to attend due to his four-day engagement at the Sacramento, CA, State Fair. The picture opened 2 Oct 1963 in New York City, and 23 Oct 1963 in Los Angeles. Reviews were lukewarm to negative, with the 24 Oct 1963 LAT lamenting its lack of “plot motivation and character analysis,” and the 3 Oct 1963 NYT describing it as a typical “low budget melodrama.” Regardless, the 15 Oct 1963 LAT claimed the picture was enjoying financial success, and box office reports in the 4 Sep 1963 DV estimated opening week receipts of $35,000 from the Woods Theatre. On 31 Dec 1963, NYT noted that Swedish censors rejected the film for its excessive violence. However, the 6 Feb 1964 DV stated that the picture was well-received in France by intellectual critics and the public.
       The 21 Oct 1963 DV reported that the LAT cancelled an advertisement inviting “Cosa Nostra members” and their associates to a private screening. The advertisement first appeared in the 17 Oct 1963 issue, but was cancelled two days later, as the publication’s management considered it to be “in poor taste.” Distributor United Artists Corporation (UA) argued that competitor LAHExam had no objection to the advertisement, but LAT executives remained adamant. In the 31 Oct 1963 LAT, columnist Matt Weinstock described the event as “a publicity stunt” concocted by press agents Bill Scholl and Pete Emmet. Although the advertisement guaranteed that UA would maintain the anonymity of audience members, the studio received only thirty replies. The studio kept its promise, refusing a request from the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) for the names of the respondents. During the screening at Goldwyn Studios in West Hollywood, CA, Scholl reportedly recognized his barber among the audience, suggesting that other imposters might have been in attendance. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Nov 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
16 Mar 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
22 Mar 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Jul 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
31 Jul 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Aug 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
17 Aug 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Sep 1962
p. 5.
Daily Variety
21 Sep 1962
p. 10.
Daily Variety
26 Sep 1962
p. 2, 4.
Daily Variety
27 Sep 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
28 Sep 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
1 Oct 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
2 Oct 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Oct 1962
p. 7.
Daily Variety
12 Oct 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Oct 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1962
p. 13.
Daily Variety
14 Jun 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
17 Jun 1963
p. 11.
Daily Variety
1 Jul 1963
p. 2.
Daily Variety
12 Aug 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
21 Aug 1963
p. 12.
Daily Variety
4 Sep 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
3 Oct 1963
p. 3.
Daily Variety
21 Oct 1963
p. 1, 3.
Daily Variety
6 Feb 1964
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
21 Oct 1962
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
23 Oct 1962
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
15 Oct 1963
Section D, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
22 Oct 1963
Section F, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
24 Oct 1963
Section A, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
31 Oct 1963
Section A, p. 6.
New York Times
2 Oct 1963
p. 45.
New York Times
3 Oct 1963
p. 31.
New York Times
31 Dec 1963
p. 10.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of cine
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Cost
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond
SOUND
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel The Kingdom of Johnny Cool by John McPartland (New York, 1959).
SONGS
"The Ballad of Johnny Cool," words by Sammy Cahn, music by James Van Heusen.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
The Kingdom of Johnny Cool
The Kingdom of Johnny Kool
Release Date:
2 October 1963
Premiere Information:
Chicago premiere: 30 August 1963
New York opening: 2 October 1963
Los Angeles opening: 23 October 1963
Production Date:
17 September--mid October 1962
Copyright Claimant:
Chrislaw Productions
Copyright Date:
30 August 1963
Copyright Number:
LP29262
Duration(in mins):
101
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Colini, an exiled American gangster living in Sicily, rescues Giordano, a young Sicilian outlaw, from the police. After Giordano is groomed, polished, and renamed "Johnny Cool," Colini sends him on a vengeance mission to the United States to assassinate the men who plotted his downfall and enforced exile. Johnny arrives in New York and quickly kills several of the underworld figures on Colini's list. Meanwhile, he picks up Dare Guiness, a wealthy divorcée who becomes his accomplice, and she is severely beaten by the gangsters as a warning against the vendetta. Soon the FBI becomes involved, and when Johnny and Dare bomb the Hollywood home of gangster Lennart Crandall, the police are able to identify Dare's car. The two separate and plan to meet later, but Dare, realizing that Johnny is a vicious killer, tells his enemies where to find him. She then surrenders herself to the FBI, and Johnny is murdered by the henchmen of one of his ... +


Colini, an exiled American gangster living in Sicily, rescues Giordano, a young Sicilian outlaw, from the police. After Giordano is groomed, polished, and renamed "Johnny Cool," Colini sends him on a vengeance mission to the United States to assassinate the men who plotted his downfall and enforced exile. Johnny arrives in New York and quickly kills several of the underworld figures on Colini's list. Meanwhile, he picks up Dare Guiness, a wealthy divorcée who becomes his accomplice, and she is severely beaten by the gangsters as a warning against the vendetta. Soon the FBI becomes involved, and when Johnny and Dare bomb the Hollywood home of gangster Lennart Crandall, the police are able to identify Dare's car. The two separate and plan to meet later, but Dare, realizing that Johnny is a vicious killer, tells his enemies where to find him. She then surrenders herself to the FBI, and Johnny is murdered by the henchmen of one of his victims. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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