Film Archive

Pfeiffer Blogathon – Frankie and Johnny (1991)

Happy 60th birthday to Michelle Pfeiffer!

And thanks to Paul S.  – a dedicated lover of Meg and Michelle – for a kind reminder. Here’s to Pfeiffer Blogathon!


Michelle is Hollywood’s classic blonde bombshell that won me over with many of her eclectic roles – the very deranged Selina Kyle (Batman Returns), the very challenging Laura Alden (Wolf) and of course, the very secluded Frankie – the protagonist of my review.

Frankie and Johnny (1991) is a movie I’ve watched time and time again, and will probably continue watching time and time again. It triggers my interest every single time because it’s not another sappy romance, but rather a long shot love affair between two heroic underdogs. Middle-aged Johnny meets younger Frankie in a local New York diner he just started working in as a cook. Strongly infatuated with Frankie, Johnny manipulates every single attempt to woo the reluctant waitress and hits a brick wall every time. Frankie is very cautious when it comes to men. After a series of bad relationships she’s now deeply accustomed to the quiet life of her one-bedroom apartment and a VCR she can’t even work.

Directed by Garry Marshall (Happy Days, Mork & Mindy, Pretty Woman), the 1991 movie was originally adapted from Terrence McNally’s two-character off-Broadway play, ‘Frankie and Johnny and The Claire De Lune’ set in a one-bedroom apartment.

Marshall’s intelligent and very well crafted version confines the lovers in Frankie’s small New York apartment in the last sequence, with into-the-night dialogues, intimate gestures, fathoming each other’s fears and a final serene truce. Spoiler! Claude Debussy’s Claire De Lune hits the final scene at Johnny’s request when he’s right on the verge of giving up his courting. Frankie comes out of her bathroom offering a toothbrush as a white flag and the two brush and brush and brush away, in love and in a perfect position to start their lives together happily ever after.

Much like in Pretty Woman, Garry Marshall shows that the process of finding one’s knight in shining armor is a lot more problematic than it used to be. No side comes into this convergence with a clean slate and it’s definitely not your Disney fairy tale – Frankie’s traumatic relationships, Johnny’s failed marriage and jail time – which results in a very successful and often humorous warm romance.

The rest of the cast is wonderful, an ensemble of simple characters who support a very realistic urban story; Nathan Lane as Frankie’s gay neighbor, Jane Morris as old and bitter co-worker Nedda, Kate Nelligan as Frankie’s free-spirited bestie, and Hector Elizondo as cafe owner and Frankie’s boss. 

Pfeiffer and Pacino already proved they can manipulate a very convincing on-screen couple. 25 year old Michelle’s big break was in 1983 classic ScarFace as Tony Montana’s love interest. You might recall the iconic hot Miami club dancing scene?

In 1991 the duo reunites for a rather mellower motion picture, but good ol’ Pacino never stops being A Pacino. Still very much loud and strong-willed.

FYI, 5 days ago, DailyMail announced another reunion for 35th ScarFace anniversary celebration.

14 thoughts on “Pfeiffer Blogathon – Frankie and Johnny (1991)

    1. Hey, J :-)) Nothing much… just work, work and more work. I’m dying to post something on here, but can’t seem to find the motivation.
      How about you? I see you’re catching up on some good flicks 🍿


  1. Michelle Pfeiffer was superb in Scarface, wasn’t she?? I like Frankie & Johnny too, but maybe not to the extent that you love it. Ha!!
    Frankie & Johnny definitely has some really good character studies.
    It’s nice to locate you again. I wondered what had happened to your blog. Wasn’t it called Sweet archive something ..?? If not, am sorry. Must be some other blog, that’s no more!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, you’re right! It was called Sweet Archive, but I’ve had enough of the name actually… I like Moody Moppet better because, let’s face it. I am a rather moody girl 🙂 I try to post as much as I can, but sometimes I feel I need a break from writing. I’m also a content writer, you see, so writing can be tiring. Thanks for visiting and liking my post!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Recently I read director Gary Marshall’s (1934 -2016) autobiography WAKE ME WHEN IT’S FUNNY. He seemed to be one of the nice guys of Hollywood, if you could imagine such a thing.

    As to Michelle Pfeiffer, I read somewhere that director Martin Scorsese described her, who he directed in the period drama THE AGE OF INNOCENCE (1993), as “an actress who could portray inner conflict with her eyes and face better than any other film star of her generation.”

    I note as well her career is far from concluded, with roles in last year’s remake of MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS as well as the forthcoming Marvel Studios superhero film ANT-MAN AND THE WASP.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Martin Scorsese is completely right. I think that’s the most accurate description of an actor I’ve ever heard. Murder in the Orient Express is a movie I’m dying to watch. It has Johnny Depp as well, no?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful review of a beautiful film. How is it possible to get any better than Al and Michelle? They’re sublime here. I love the final scene with Debussy’s wonderful “Clair de Lune” weaving it all together … I would class Frankie and Johnny as a perfect film, it has everything.

    Liked by 2 people

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