Johnny Handsome (1989)

R | 94 mins | Drama | 29 September 1989

Director:

Walter Hill

Writer:

Ken Friedman

Producer:

Charles Roven

Cinematographer:

Matthew F. Leonetti

Production Designer:

Gene Rudolf

Production Company:

Carolco Pictures
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HISTORY

A 30 Jun 1972 HR news brief reported that film rights to John Godey’s novel “The Three Faces of Johnny Handsome” had been acquired by Twentieth Century-Fox. Fred Weintraub was listed as producer, but his name does not appear in the film’s credits.
       According to a 29 Sep 1989 NYT article, producer Charles Roven approached director Walter Hill with the novel in 1982, but Hill felt that the plastic surgery element of the story was a cliché and passed. He turned the project down twice more before agreeing to direct after he was allowed to change “Johnny Handsome” from a small time mafia member from New Jersey to a southern “redneck” in New Orleans, LA. A 30 Jan 1987 DV news item claimed that actors Richard Gere and Al Pacino were both considered for the title role.
       Productions notes in AMPAS library files state filming began 17 Oct 1988 in New Orleans. Another Louisiana location was Angola prison just outside Baton Rouge. A French Quarter bar, which was built in an old storefront that had been a brothel, was so realistic that after filming was completed, it was sold to a New Orleans native who opened it “as is.”
       Further interior shooting took place in the San Fernado Valley section of Los Angeles, CA, in an abandoned department store. This included the hospital lockdown ward, the Commodore Shipyard payroll offices, and Johnny and "Donna’s" apartments.
       Critics agreed with Hill that the plastic surgery angle had been over used and gave the film mediocre reviews. The box-office was also disappointing as reported in a 29 Oct ... More Less

A 30 Jun 1972 HR news brief reported that film rights to John Godey’s novel “The Three Faces of Johnny Handsome” had been acquired by Twentieth Century-Fox. Fred Weintraub was listed as producer, but his name does not appear in the film’s credits.
       According to a 29 Sep 1989 NYT article, producer Charles Roven approached director Walter Hill with the novel in 1982, but Hill felt that the plastic surgery element of the story was a cliché and passed. He turned the project down twice more before agreeing to direct after he was allowed to change “Johnny Handsome” from a small time mafia member from New Jersey to a southern “redneck” in New Orleans, LA. A 30 Jan 1987 DV news item claimed that actors Richard Gere and Al Pacino were both considered for the title role.
       Productions notes in AMPAS library files state filming began 17 Oct 1988 in New Orleans. Another Louisiana location was Angola prison just outside Baton Rouge. A French Quarter bar, which was built in an old storefront that had been a brothel, was so realistic that after filming was completed, it was sold to a New Orleans native who opened it “as is.”
       Further interior shooting took place in the San Fernado Valley section of Los Angeles, CA, in an abandoned department store. This included the hospital lockdown ward, the Commodore Shipyard payroll offices, and Johnny and "Donna’s" apartments.
       Critics agreed with Hill that the plastic surgery angle had been over used and gave the film mediocre reviews. The box-office was also disappointing as reported in a 29 Oct 1989 LAT article, the film only grossed $6.6 million after four weeks of release.
       The following statements appear in end credits: “Special acknowledgement to: Dr. Henry Kawamoto; Dr. Yoshio Setoguchi; UCLA Craniofacial Clinic; Dr. Joel Schechter; Gary Nobiensky; Phil Bonwell, Dr. Harry Glassman; Jim Beam Distilling Co.; Glock Industries, Inc.; Los Angeles Department of Water & Power; Capt. Mike Sherman, U. S. Navy Office of Information-West; Albert G. Ruben & Company, Inc.; Avondale Industries, Inc.; Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola; New Orleans Mayor Sidney J. Barthelemy; the City of New Orleans Film Committee; Tesa Laviolette; Louisiana Office of Film and Video; Stephanie Samuel; WSMB, New Orleans; The People of New Orleans; the Residents of Vieux Carre.” More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
30 Jan 1987.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jun 1972.
---
Los Angeles Times
29 Sep 1989
Calendar, p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
29 Oct 1989.
pp. 31-32.
New York Times
29 Sep 1989
p. 10.
New York Times
29 Sep 1989.
---
Variety
13 Sep 1989
p. 39.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Mario Kassar and Andrew Vajna present
A Gruber-Peters Company Production
In association with Charles Roven
A Walter Hill Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2nd unit dir
2d 2d asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
Exec prod
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2nd asst cam
Gaffer
Gaffer
Elec best boy
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Lighting tech
Key grip
Grip best boy
Dolly grip
Still photog
Video playback
Ultracam 35 cam and lenses provided by
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
Film ed
Post prod supv
Post prod coord
1st asst ed
Negative cutter
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Leadman
Set dresser
Prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
Const coord
Const foreman
Const foreman
Const foreman
Standby carpenter
Standy carpenter
Paint foreman
Standby painter
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus comp
Drums and percussion by
Mus ed
Music rec
SOUND
Sd mixer
Boom op
Cable op
Supv sd ed
ADR supv
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Sd ed facilities provided by
Foley by
ADR mixer
Vocal eff
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd transfers
Dolby consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff
Spec eff
Titles by
MAKEUP
Spec makeup des
Spec makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
Makeup lab asst
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
Carolco accounting rep
PRODUCTION MISC
Pub coord
Loc mgr
Loc mgr
Loc scout
Loc scout
Loc scout
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod secy
Studio mgr
Casting asst
Casting asst
Extras casting (Los Angeles)
Extras casting (New Orleans)
Extras coord
Carolco accounting rep
Asst accountant
Payroll accountant
Asst to Mr. Roven
Asst to Mr. Hill
Asst to Mr. Hill
Asst to exec prods
Asst to exec prods
Asst to Mr. Rourke
Trainer to Mr. Rourke
Speech & voice consultant to Mr. Rourke
On-set medical advisor
First aid
First aid
Craft service
Craft service
Catering by
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
Stunts
ANIMATION
Computer anim and displays by
Computer anim and displays by
Computer anim and displays by
Computer anim and displays by
Computer anim and displays by
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based upon the novel The Three Worlds of Johnny Handsome by John Godey (New York, 1972).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
29 September 1989
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 29 September 1989
Production Date:
began 17 October 1988
Copyright Claimant:
Carolco Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
23 October 1989
Copyright Number:
PA431509
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Duration(in mins):
94
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
29922
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

John "Johnny Handsome" Sedley is a bank robber with a deformed face. Mikey Chalmette, John’s only friend explains he owes money to a loan shark, Rafe Garrett, who is about to foreclose on his bar. Rafe will forgive the loan if Mikey helps him rob a rare coin store, but Mikey cannot do it without John’s help. Although John voices concern about with working with Rafe and his girlfriend, Sunny Boyd, he agrees to plan the heist. The day of the robbery, Sunny enters the store pretending to be a customer. Outside, Bob Lemoyne, the getaway driver, smashes a Cadillac into a row of cars, runs to another car, then hits a detonator, exploding the automobile. Mikey does the same, blocking off the street. Johnny and Rafe enter the shop wearing masks. They pistol whip the owner, but he still hits an alarm button. As Mikey runs in, Rafe kills the owner and a security guard. When Mikey protests, Rafe guns him down and tries to shoot Johnny, but he locks himself in another room. The couple run outside, where Rafe murders Bob and makes off in the getaway car. Johnny is caught and thrown into jail where he is visited by police Lietentant A. Z. Drones. Although Drones offers to avenge Mikey by capturing Rafe and Sunny, Johnny refuses to help him. Johnny’s lawyer, Vic Dumask, gets him to plead guilty in exchange for a five-year sentence. While picking cotton in the prison fields, Johnny is repeatedly stabbed by two other prisoners. While recuperating, he is visited by Drones who informs him ... +


John "Johnny Handsome" Sedley is a bank robber with a deformed face. Mikey Chalmette, John’s only friend explains he owes money to a loan shark, Rafe Garrett, who is about to foreclose on his bar. Rafe will forgive the loan if Mikey helps him rob a rare coin store, but Mikey cannot do it without John’s help. Although John voices concern about with working with Rafe and his girlfriend, Sunny Boyd, he agrees to plan the heist. The day of the robbery, Sunny enters the store pretending to be a customer. Outside, Bob Lemoyne, the getaway driver, smashes a Cadillac into a row of cars, runs to another car, then hits a detonator, exploding the automobile. Mikey does the same, blocking off the street. Johnny and Rafe enter the shop wearing masks. They pistol whip the owner, but he still hits an alarm button. As Mikey runs in, Rafe kills the owner and a security guard. When Mikey protests, Rafe guns him down and tries to shoot Johnny, but he locks himself in another room. The couple run outside, where Rafe murders Bob and makes off in the getaway car. Johnny is caught and thrown into jail where he is visited by police Lietentant A. Z. Drones. Although Drones offers to avenge Mikey by capturing Rafe and Sunny, Johnny refuses to help him. Johnny’s lawyer, Vic Dumask, gets him to plead guilty in exchange for a five-year sentence. While picking cotton in the prison fields, Johnny is repeatedly stabbed by two other prisoners. While recuperating, he is visited by Drones who informs him that the attackers were paid to assassinate him. However, Johnny still refuses to talk. When he is transferred to a city hospital, he becomes part of a program run by Dr. Steven Resher investigating whether reconstruction surgery on prisoners with deformed faces might reduce recidivism. After several operations, Johnny has a new face and voice thanks to speech therapy. When he is completely healed, he is visited by Drones, who argues that no matter what the doctors did to Johnny’s outsides, he is still a “punk on the inside.” Dr. Resher arranges a work release program for Johnny, in which he reports to the hospital at night and continues his therapies. He is given the new last name of “Mitchell,” and a backstory of recently retiring from the Navy. He gets a job working as a grinder at the shipyards. On his first pay day, he goes to human resources to ask about a deduction on his check. Donna McCarty, an accountant is explaining it to him when her boss, Mr. Bonet, comes over to inform Johnny that the company deducted his work clothes and orders him back to work. When the day is over, Johnny finds Donna and thanks her for her help. She offers him a ride and Johnny confesses he is an ex-convict. Donna admits to “cooking the books,” to cover-up that her old boyfriend, Earl, is stealing equipment from the shipyard. She wants to stop, but is afraid Earl will turn her in. The next day, Johnny confronts Earl, who tries to use his large size to intimidate Johnny, who pulls a knife and places it on Earl’s throat, asking him to leave Donna alone. Earl agrees. On another payday, Johnny notices the company brings in millions of dollars to stock the Automatic Tellers Machines (ATMs). The money room it is placed in has minimal security. That night, Johnny takes Donna to a carnival and tries to warn her to stay away from him. Instead, she takes him home and they make love. Weeks later, Johnny gets paroled over Drones’ protests. After leaving the hospital, he goes to Rafe’s bar and says hello to Sunny. Although she does not recognize him, Johnny persuades her to get Rafe to talk him. When Rafe and his bodyguard, Larry arrive, Johnny lays out his plan to rob the shipyard, and split the loot three ways. Rafe is interested but demands to know how Johnny knew about him. Johnny tells them he heard about the coin store heist from Johnny Handsome before he died. Sunny takes Johnny to an oyster bar and tells him that Rafe put every cent from the coin robbery into refurbishing Mikey’s bar. She takes Johnny to her place, has sex with him and convinces him to double-cross Rafe. The next day, Drone comes to the shipyard and tells Donna he is checking up on Johnny. After he leaves, Donna warns Johnny. He tells her that their relationship is not working out and breaks up with her. Johnny puts his robbery plan into motion. First, he contacts his old lawyer, Vic Dumask, to fence the stolen money. Dumask does not recognize him, but admits he fenced the stolen coins for Rafe years ago. Johnny then buys firearms and a used car. One night, Donna comes to his apartment to thank him for helping her with Earl and demands to know why he is acting so distant. Johnny shows her pictures of himself before his operation. When she does not run away, he throws her out and locks the door. Across town, Rafe reveals to Sunny his plans to murder Johnny after the robbery. The next day, Rafe and Larry, dressed as dockworkers, and Sunny in a low cut dress, drive into the shipyard. Sunny goes to Human Resources, flirts with Mr. Bonet, and gets him alone in his office. She pulls out a gun and orders him to deactivate the security alarm, then beats him senseless with her pistol. Johnny and Rafe emerge from the restroom wearing welding goggles and bandanas. They order everyone to drop to the floor. Rafe beats anyone who does not move fast enough, as Johnny and Sunny put the money into duffel bags. They run outside where Larry awaits with the getaway car and drive to a nearby parking garage. While Rafe puts stolen license plates on a new car and Larry throws out their overalls, Sunny opens the car trunk to discover bags already in it. As she watches, Johnny slides the real moneybags under the car. When Sunny suggest she and Johnny take the money car, Rafe refuses, telling her he and Larry will handle the money and for Johnny and her to meet them at the bar later. When they drive off, Johnny puts the bags in another car. He tells Sunny he alone will take the cash to his fence and orders her to meet him that night at a cemetery to split the take. Sunny goes to the bar and claims Johnny robbed her. Johnny takes the money to Vic Dumask, who reveals he had Johnny investigated. After a police officer informed him that Lt. Drones was interested in Johnny, Vic figured out his real identity. He applauds Johnny’s plan for vengeance, telling him Mikey would be proud of him. After Johnny leaves, Drones arrives and catches Dumask with the loot. That night, Donna goes to Johnny’s apartment to ask about the robbery and finds Rafe, Larry, and Sunny searching the room. Rafe puts a gun to her head just as Sunny discovers pre-operation pictures of Johnny. Across from the cemetery, Drones gets the drop on Johnny, but wishes he arrived later so Johnny could have finished off Rafe. To allow Johnny some time, Drones takes a ten-minutes walk. Johnny enters the graveyard carrying a suitcase and he finds Rafe, Sunny and Larry, who is holding a gun to Donna’s head. Johnny tosses his gun away and Rafe beats his new face to a bloody pulp. Rafe demands Johnny give him the combination to the suitcase lock. Johnny does, but fearing it is booby-trapped, Rafe orders Johnny to open it. Johnny pops it open, pulls out a pistol and shoots Larry and Rafe to death. Donna breaks away and Johnny shoots Sunny. However, Sunny gets off one shot before dying, hitting Johnny. Drones appears and tells the dying Johnny Handsome he did good work. With his last breath, Johnny asks Donna, “How does my face look?” +

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

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