Frankie and Johnny (1991)

R | 117 mins | Comedy-drama, Romance | 11 October 1991

Director:

Garry Marshall

Producer:

Garry Marshall

Cinematographer:

Dante Spinotti

Production Designer:

Albert Brenner

Production Company:

Paramount Pictures Corp.
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HISTORY

On 1 Feb 1988, New York Magazine reported that Paramount Pictures was on the verge of optioning Terrence McNally’s stageplay, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, for director Mike Nichols. Three months later, a 2 May 1988 DV article confirmed that the studio had acquired rights to the theatrical work, indicating that McNally would pen the screen adaptation. According to a 27 Oct 1988 HR news brief, Dianne Wiest and Richard Dreyfuss were likely to star in the film, under Nichols’ direction. A year and a half later, a 21 Mar 1990 DV news item indicated that director Garry Marshall would helm the picture. Marshall stated in a 6 Oct 1991 NYT article that his “first impulse” was to cast his sister, Penny Marshall, and Jack Nicholson in the lead roles. He also considered Nick Nolte and Robert De Niro for the part of “Johnny,” according to a 15 Oct 1991 HR article. However, DV news briefs of 1 Nov 1990 and 23 Jan 1991 indicated that Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino would star in the picture. Pacino recalled, in a 6 Oct 1991 NYT interview, waiving his right to approve Pfeiffer as the female lead, because he had previously worked with her on Scarface (1983, see entry). Although various contemporary sources listed Laurie Metcalf among the cast, the actress does not appear in the film.
       Various contemporary sources referred to the theatre community’s disapproval at the casting of the glamorous Michelle Pfeiffer as the frumpy, self-conscious “Frankie.” In the original stage production, which opened at the ... More Less

On 1 Feb 1988, New York Magazine reported that Paramount Pictures was on the verge of optioning Terrence McNally’s stageplay, Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, for director Mike Nichols. Three months later, a 2 May 1988 DV article confirmed that the studio had acquired rights to the theatrical work, indicating that McNally would pen the screen adaptation. According to a 27 Oct 1988 HR news brief, Dianne Wiest and Richard Dreyfuss were likely to star in the film, under Nichols’ direction. A year and a half later, a 21 Mar 1990 DV news item indicated that director Garry Marshall would helm the picture. Marshall stated in a 6 Oct 1991 NYT article that his “first impulse” was to cast his sister, Penny Marshall, and Jack Nicholson in the lead roles. He also considered Nick Nolte and Robert De Niro for the part of “Johnny,” according to a 15 Oct 1991 HR article. However, DV news briefs of 1 Nov 1990 and 23 Jan 1991 indicated that Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino would star in the picture. Pacino recalled, in a 6 Oct 1991 NYT interview, waiving his right to approve Pfeiffer as the female lead, because he had previously worked with her on Scarface (1983, see entry). Although various contemporary sources listed Laurie Metcalf among the cast, the actress does not appear in the film.
       Various contemporary sources referred to the theatre community’s disapproval at the casting of the glamorous Michelle Pfeiffer as the frumpy, self-conscious “Frankie.” In the original stage production, which opened at the Manhattan Theatre Club (off Off-Broadway) in Oct 1987, actress Kathy Bates played the role, and many critics felt that her plain appearance was more appropriate for the character. However, in a 6 Oct 1991 NYT article, Terrence McNally stated that the play “was never about a woman who was physically unappealing,” and added that, “beautiful” women are as susceptible to being “emotionally cut off and frustrated … as Frankie.”
       Principal photography began 29 Jan 1991. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, filmmakers spent the first three months filming in and around Los Angeles, CA. “Nick’s Apollo Cafe,” where much of the film takes place, was constructed on a Hollywood soundstage. The set comprised exteriors as well as interiors, featuring the busy street in front of the café, a flower mart on the sidewalk next door, the kitchen, and a 200-seat dining room inside. A 22 Mar 1991 HR news brief noted the use of an authentic 1950s bowling alley in Montrose, CA (fourteen miles north of Los Angeles) for one key sequence in the film. A few weeks later, before heading to New York City, filmmakers stopped at Folsom State Prison, near Sacramento, CA, to shoot exteriors.
       On 23 May 1991, the NYT reported that Frankie and Johnny was the first Hollywood motion picture to return to New York City following a seven-month production hiatus caused by stalled negotiations between Hollywood producers and a New York film-crafts union. Frankie and Johnny’s filmmakers originally planned to shoot in New York in mid-April, but because of the continuing boycott, they were forced to wait until mid-May, when the union accepted the producers’ terms. Cast and crew spent five days filming exteriors in midtown Manhattan.
       Some critics were skeptical of the transformation of an intimate, one-set, two-character stageplay into a $29 million production with a cast of nearly 100. In a 23 Sep 1991 New York article, McNally addressed the process of adapting his work for the screen, stating that he locked the play in a drawer and started from scratch, “opening up” the material to accommodate “a city of loners, survivors and romantics.” The 11 Oct 1991 NYT review described the film as a “complete revision” of the theatrical work.
       On 7 Oct 1991, DV announced that a benefit premiere of Frankie and Johnny would be held the following day at the AMPAS Samuel Goldwyn Theater to support the Center Theatre Group of the Los Angeles County Music Center. The film opened nationwide three days later.
       End credits include the following statement: “‘Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune,’ originally presented by the Manhattan Theatre Club, produced off-Broadway by Steven Baruch, Thomas Viertel, Richard Frankel, Jujamcyn Theatres and Margo Lyon.” End credits also include the following acknowledgements: “‘The Challengers’ courtesy of Buena Vista Television, Inc.”; “'The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson' footage supplied courtesy of Carson Tonight”; and, “The producers gratefully acknowledge the following for their assistance and cooperation: The New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Television, and Broadcasting; The members of the New York City Police Department Motion Picture and Television Unit; The New York City Transit Authority Special Projects Division; New York City Port Authority; California Highway Patrol Sacramento Division; Folsom Prison; Laurie Metcalf and Barbara Sue Wells.” End credits indicate that the picture was: “Partially filmed at Raleigh Studios, Hollywood, California.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
2 May 1988
p. 1, 22.
Daily Variety
21 Mar 1990.
---
Daily Variety
1 Nov 1990.
---
Daily Variety
23 Jan 1991.
---
Daily Variety
13 Feb 1991.
---
Daily Variety
6 Feb 1992.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Oct 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 1988.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jan 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Mar 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Mar 1991.
---
Hollywood Reporter
7 Oct 1991
p. 5, 15.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Oct 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
3 Mar 1991.
---
Los Angeles Times
11 Oct 1991
Calendar, p. 1.
New York
23 Sep 1991.
---
New York Magazine
1 Feb 1988.
---
New York Times
23 May 1991
Section C, p. 17.
New York Times
6 Oct 1991
Section A, p. 1.
New York Times
6 Oct 1991
Section A, p. 13.
New York Times
11 Oct 1991
Section C, p. 1.
Reader
11 Oct 1991.
---
Variety
7 Oct 1991
p. 16.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
and
as Cora
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Paramount Pictures presents
a Garry Marshall film
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir/1st asst dir, New York crew
2d unit dir
2d 2d asst dir/2d asst dir, 2d unit
DGA trainee
Prod mgr, New York crew
2d asst dir, New York crew
2d 2d asst dir, New York crew
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
2d cam op
Panaglide op
1st asst photog
2d asst photog
Panaglide asst
Film loader
Chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Asst chief lighting tech
Head rigging elec
Set lighting elec
Set lighting elec
Set lighting elec
Set lighting elec
Set lighting elec
Set lighting elec
Set lighting elec
1st company grip
2d company grip
Dolly grip
Grip
Still photog
Dir of photog, 2d unit
1st asst photog, 2d unit
2d asst photog, 2d unit
Chief lighting tech, 2d unit
Cam op, New York crew
1st asst photog, New York crew
2d asst photog, New York crew
Chief lighting tech, New York crew
1st company grip, New York crew
Rigging grip, New York crew
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Assoc film ed
Asst film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Apprentice film ed
Post prod asst
Negative cutting
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Sr prod illustrator
Prop master
Asst propmaster
Asst propmaster
Lead person
Prop person
Prop person
Prop person
Prop person
Const coord
Const foreperson
Prod painter
Set dec, New York crew
Set dresser, New York crew
Prop master, New York crew
Asst prop master, New York crew
COSTUMES
Cost des
Cost supv
Key costumer
Costumer
MUSIC
Mus/Orch cond by
Supv mus ed
Orchestrator
Orch contractor
Mus preparation
Mus scoring mixer
Mus coord
Mus supv
SOUND
Sd mixer
Utility sd tech
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Sd ed
Supv dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Dial ed
Foley ed
Supv A.D.R. ed
A.D.R. ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Asst sd ed
Foley artist
Foley artist
Foley mixer
A.D.R. mixer
A.D.R. mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Dolby Stereo consultant
Sd mixer, 2d unit
Boom op, 2d unit
Sd mixer, New York crew
Boom op, New York crew
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Spec eff foreperson
Main and end titles des by
MAKEUP
Mr. Pacino's makeup artist
Ms. Pfeiffer's makeup artist
Makeup artist
Body makeup artist
Mr. Pacino's hairstylist
Ms. Pfeiffer's hairstylist
Hairstylist
Makeup for Ms. Pfeiffer, New York crew
PRODUCTION MISC
Casting
Voice casting by
Voice casting by
Prod office coord
Scr supv
Mismatches
Unit pub
Asst prod coord
Prod auditor
Asst prod auditor
Asst prod auditor
Prod accounting asst
Loc mgr
Asst loc mgr
Exec asst to Mr. Marshall
Secy to Mr. Marshall
Asst to Ms. Rose
Asst to Mr. Mulvehill and Mr. Abdo
Asst to Mr. Pacino
Asst to Mr. Pacino
Asst to Ms. Pfeiffer
Cast asst
Cast asst
Ms. Pfeiffer's dialect coach
Casting assoc
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Transportation coord
Transportation capt
First aid
Prod asst, 2d unit
Prod office coord, New York crew
Loc mgr, New York crew
Asst auditor, New York crew
Transportation capt, New York crew
DGA trainee, New York crew
Prod asst, New York crew
Prod asst, New York crew
Prod asst, New York crew
Prod asst, New York crew
Prod asst, New York crew
Prod asst, New York crew
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
Col by
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based upon the stageplay Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune by Terrence McNally (first performance Oct 1987).
SONGS
"Frankie and Johnny (A Man And A Woman)," written, performed, and produced by Terence Trent D'Arby, Terence Trent D'Arby performs courtesy of Sony Music (U.K.)
"Dangerous On The Dance Floor," by John E. Mandell & Charles L. Jordan, performed by Musto & Bones, courtesy of Beggars Banquet/RCA Records
"Slang Yo Thang," by Robert Tillis & Johnny Martinez, performed by The Rhythm, courtesy of WTG Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
+
SONGS
"Frankie and Johnny (A Man And A Woman)," written, performed, and produced by Terence Trent D'Arby, Terence Trent D'Arby performs courtesy of Sony Music (U.K.)
"Dangerous On The Dance Floor," by John E. Mandell & Charles L. Jordan, performed by Musto & Bones, courtesy of Beggars Banquet/RCA Records
"Slang Yo Thang," by Robert Tillis & Johnny Martinez, performed by The Rhythm, courtesy of WTG Records by arrangement with Sony Music Licensing
"What A Fool Believes," by Michael McDonald & Kenny Loggins, performed by The Doobie Brothers, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc. by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Mustapha," by Donald Michael Casen & Joseph M. Porrello, courtesy of PPI Entertainment Group/Compose Music, Inc. by arrangement with CMI
"The Devil Made Me Do It," by George Kooymans & Barry Hay, performed by Golden Earring, courtesy of Red Bullet International
"It Must Be Love," written & performed by Rickie Lee Jones, courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc. by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Saturday Night (Is The Lonliest [sic] Night In The Week)," by Sammy Cahn & Jule Styne
"Love Shack," by Frederick Schneider, Catherine Pierson, Keith Strickland & Cindy Wilson, performed by the B-52's, courtesy of Reprise Records by arrangement with Warner Special Products
"Your Love Just Ain't Right," by Andrew Williams, Reggie Turner & Keith Williams, performed by Angel, courtesy of Virgin Records America, Inc.
"Clair De Lune," by Claude Debussy, piano performance by Ralph Grierson
"Until You Let Go," by Marvin Hamlisch, David Zippel & Peter Beckett, performed by Peter Beckett & Jeanette Clinger, produced by David Holman, Peter Beckett performs courtesy of Curb Records
Additional Greek music courtesy of: Associated Production Music, FirstCom/Music House/Chappel, Southern Library of Recorded Music.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Frankie and Johnny in the Claire de Lune
Release Date:
11 October 1991
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles premiere: 8 October 1991
Los Angeles and New York openings: 11 October 1991
Production Date:
began 29 January 1991
Copyright Claimant:
Paramount Pictures Corporation
Copyright Date:
16 December 1991
Copyright Number:
PA547205
Physical Properties:
Sound
Dolby Stereo ® in Selected Theatres
Color
Lenses
Filmed with Panavision® cameras and lenses
Duration(in mins):
117
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
30971
SYNOPSIS

In Altoona, Pennsylvania, a New Yorker named Frankie attends her godson’s baptism. Afterwards, at a family gathering, she shows concern for her alcoholic mother. Meanwhile, ex-convict Johnny is released from the nearby Rockview Correctional Institution, and announces his intention to start a new life in New York City. Late that evening, a tearful Frankie takes a bus back to the city. On her way to work in the morning, she notes the prices of videocassette recorders on display in a shop window. When she arrives at Nick’s Apollo Cafe, she learns that her coworker, Helen, is leaving early because she feels dizzy. Although Nick, the owner, is distressed, Frankie and another waitress named Nedda tend to the cafe’s customers. Johnny walks in and asks for work as a short order cook. Nick reads Johnny’s prison references and agrees to give him a chance the following day. That night, Frankie returns to her sixth floor walk-up apartment, surprised to see a stranger hanging shelves in the front room. He introduces himself as Bobby, a friend of her neighbor, Tim. Just then, Tim bursts in and welcomes Frankie home with a kiss. Later, he sends Bobby out to walk the dog, and eagerly asks the tired waitress what she thinks of his new boyfriend. She admits he is nice. Elsewhere in New York, Johnny eats dinner alone. Later, he solicits a prostitute to spend the night with him. However, he insists she keep her clothes on and simply lie in the bed next to him. The next day, the other cooks at the Apollo admire Johnny’s skill chopping vegetables, while Frankie’s coworker, Cora, remarks on his good looks. Unimpressed, Frankie insists ... +


In Altoona, Pennsylvania, a New Yorker named Frankie attends her godson’s baptism. Afterwards, at a family gathering, she shows concern for her alcoholic mother. Meanwhile, ex-convict Johnny is released from the nearby Rockview Correctional Institution, and announces his intention to start a new life in New York City. Late that evening, a tearful Frankie takes a bus back to the city. On her way to work in the morning, she notes the prices of videocassette recorders on display in a shop window. When she arrives at Nick’s Apollo Cafe, she learns that her coworker, Helen, is leaving early because she feels dizzy. Although Nick, the owner, is distressed, Frankie and another waitress named Nedda tend to the cafe’s customers. Johnny walks in and asks for work as a short order cook. Nick reads Johnny’s prison references and agrees to give him a chance the following day. That night, Frankie returns to her sixth floor walk-up apartment, surprised to see a stranger hanging shelves in the front room. He introduces himself as Bobby, a friend of her neighbor, Tim. Just then, Tim bursts in and welcomes Frankie home with a kiss. Later, he sends Bobby out to walk the dog, and eagerly asks the tired waitress what she thinks of his new boyfriend. She admits he is nice. Elsewhere in New York, Johnny eats dinner alone. Later, he solicits a prostitute to spend the night with him. However, he insists she keep her clothes on and simply lie in the bed next to him. The next day, the other cooks at the Apollo admire Johnny’s skill chopping vegetables, while Frankie’s coworker, Cora, remarks on his good looks. Unimpressed, Frankie insists he remake a plate of food. Johnny complies, and the two spend the rest of the day giving each other sidelong glances. At the end of her shift, Frankie studies the operating manual for a videocassette recorder, until Nick announces to the staff that Helen has been hospitalized. Cora and Frankie go to visit the elderly woman, fearful that they might also end up old and alone. The next day at the Apollo, when a customer suffers an epileptic seizure, Johnny and Frankie rush to assist the man. Johnny asks Frankie on a date, but she brushes him off without giving a reason. Later, Frankie spends the night spying on her neighbors from her apartment window. Within the week, Helen passes away. Frankie attends the funeral with Cora and Nedda, and is surprised to see Johnny there, paying his respects. Later, at the café, she asks about this sympathetic gesture, and Johnny again attempts to coerce her into going on a date. Scorned by Frankie, he flirts with Cora, and that night, they have sex. Afterward, they agree that the tryst was meaningless, and the next day at work, Cora tells Frankie and Nedda about the encounter. In the ensuing weeks, Frankie keeps a watchful eye on Johnny. When he invites her to attend a coworker’s going-away party with him, she reluctantly gives him her address. On the night of the party, Tim advises Frankie what to wear, while Bobby hooks up her new videocassette recorder. Johnny surprises her by arriving early, but Tim seizes the opportunity to approve his friend’s date. At the party, Johnny attempts to convince Frankie they are a good match, and invites her to dance, but she urges him to ask Nedda, instead. On the way home, Johnny buys his shy date a flower, before suggesting they go back to her apartment. Frankie protests, but he kisses her passionately, and she changes her mind. After an intimate evening together, they go to work at the Apollo, where Cora waits on a pregnant customer. Johnny asks Frankie if she likes children, but she evades answering. Later, they walk through Central Park, and Johnny suggests they spend the evening together. When Frankie informs him that it is her bowling night, Johnny drives alone to a specific suburban address, where he observes two young children playing on the lawn in front of a house. Afterward, he goes to the bowling alley, but Frankie acts standoffish when she sees him. Johnny professes his love, but Frankie becomes defensive when he mentions starting a family, angrily informing him that she cannot have children. A day or two later, Frankie switches her shift to avoid seeing Johnny, but he does the same, and they are forced to talk to each other. After Johnny admits that he spent time in prison and was once married, Frankie confides that, three years ago, the love of her life cheated on her with her best friend. She asks Johnny if he has children, and he confesses he does, but he is nervous about re-introducing himself to them. After work, Johnny walks Frankie to her apartment. There, they lie in the moonlight listening to piano music and sharing secrets. However, the intimate conversation makes Frankie uncomfortable, and she asks Johnny to leave. He insists his feelings are sincere, prompting Frankie to reveal that a previous boyfriend physically abused her, and she is afraid to fall in love again. However, as dawn breaks, Frankie decides to trust Johnny “no matter what.” The lovers brush their teeth and climb back into bed together. +

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

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