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!

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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.

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