Frankie and Johnny
- Al Pacino as Johnny
- Michelle Pfeiffer as Frankie
- Hector Elizondo as Nick
- Nathan Lane as Tim
- Kate Nelligan as Cora
- Jane Morris as Nedda
A funny and often touching tale of two people falling hesitantly in love, Frankie and Johnny is a romantic comedy drama boasting great performances and a poignant screenplay that pierces to the heart of the meaning of love for different people.
Johnny is a middle-aged men who has just been released from prison. He has an exceptional talent for cooking and whilst searching for a job is hired by Nick, the Greek owner of a busy diner in Manhattan. It is here that Johnny first lays eyes upon Frankie, a plain waitress who tries to keep emotional attachments at arm’s length. He is immediately smitten and tries to woo the distant Frankie, finding it will be a hard task to convince her that love exists as she seems to turn him down every time he tries to express himself. Through his relentless pursuit of her, he gradually gets her to emerge from her shell and speak of why she doesn’t like attachment. Prepare for funny and soul-searching moments as they gradually see the good in each other in this warm, romantic comedy.
As the happy, hungry for life Johnny, Al Pacino shows a flair for comedy as we watch his various declarations of love met with a no. He has excellent chemistry with Michelle Pfeiffer, and provides their scenes with a dramatic and tender charm. At the time of the film’s release, much was made by critics of Michelle Pfeiffer being “too pretty” for the role of the lonely and forlorn Frankie. Yet I disagree, as she adeptly rises to the challenge and creates a beautifully touching performance, filled with a dejected melancholy and vulnerability that eventually gives way to hope. Standout’s from the supporting cast include Hector Elizondo as the manager of the diner, Nathan Lane as Frankie’s gay neighbour who wants the best for his close friend and Kate Nelligan as the sassy, gum-chewing waitress Cora, whose discussions with Frankie regarding men are hysterical to watch. Garry Marshall manages to sidestep some of the usual formula involved in romantic comedies to form a tender love story that will make you laugh but touch your heart deeply, sometimes at the same time. Adapting from his own play, Terrence McNally fills the film with comedic and equally insights into the ways the heart works when it comes to love. This is most evident in the way he writes the scenes in which Johnny tries to impress Frankie with his knowledge of Shakespeare and old music. When he mentions that they were made for each other because their names also are the title of a song, she replies “Didn’t they end up killing each other”? Johnny’s hilarious answer to this is “No she killed him, so I’ve got the edge there”. This is one of many witty and loving sparks of dialogue that appear throughout the film to give it a tender but never cloying examination of hesitant romance.
Witty, warm and tinged with subtle melancholy, Frankie and Johnny provides excellent roles for the cast, sparkling chemistry between Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer and makes an emotional connection with the audience, making the material very relatable.