Frankie & Johnny is a 1991 American romantic comedy film directed by Garry Marshall. It stars Al Pacino and Michelle Pfeiffer — in their second collaboration after Scarface (1983) — with Nathan Lane, Héctor Elizondo and Kate Nelligan appearing in supporting roles. It is a film adaptation of Terrence McNally's two-person play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. The play in turn gets its name from the old American Murder Ballad "Frankie and Johnny", about a woman named Frankie who shoots and kills her lover, Johnny, after finding him with another woman.
Frankie (Pfeiffer), a young woman with a Dark and Troubled Past waitressing at a New York City diner has sworn off relationships. Her only friends seem to be her neighbor, Tim (Lane) and her coworkers at the Apollo Cafe. This changes when recently released ex-convict Johnny (Pacino) gets a job as a short-order cook there. Johnny falls in love with her, but how can he convince her to learn to trust again?
Not to be confused with the 1966 film of the same name starring Elvis Presley, or the 1936 film co-starring Lilyan Tashman, or the 1928 play that the latter was based on.
Frankie & Johnny provides examples of the following tropes:
- Adaptation Title Change: The title is shortened from the play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune.
- Adaptational Attractiveness: Casting Michelle Pfeiffer as Frankie was controversial due to the fact that Frankie, in the original play, was intended to be a somewhat frumpy, self-conscious and plain woman.
- Benevolent Boss: Nick to his employees.
- Big Applesauce: Almost the entire film takes place in New York City.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Johnny must convince Frankie to learn to trust and love again.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Johnny's behavior may even go a little past this. Showing up at her apartment and bowling night when Frankie specifically asks him not to, changing his shifts after she changes hers to avoid him, and calling her incessantly after she tries to end things with him.
- Domestic Abuse: Frankie was abused by one of her previous boyfriends, once to the point of causing her miscarriage and rendering her unable to have children.
- Dying Alone: Frankie and Cora fear this after Helen dies alone in the hospital.
- Gay Best Friend: Tim to Frankie.
- Grand Romantic Gesture: Johnny calling up the radio station and asking for an encore of Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune" in a desperate attempt to make Frankie let him stay. It works.
- Greasy Spoon: Nicks Apollo Cafe.
- Lonely Funeral: Helen's funeral. No one besides her coworkers show up.
- Never Be Hurt Again: Frankie's reason for not wanting to get into a relationships due to how badly she had been hurt in her past ones.
- Love Confession: Johnny makes one to Frankie on her bowling night. It doesn't go well.
- Platonic Prostitution: Johnny solicits a prostitute his first night out of prison but just asks her to sleep (clothed) next to him in bed.
- Workplace Romance: Frankie and Johnny both work at Nick's Apollo Cafe. Causes a bit of a problem when Frankie and Johnny are broken up and she changes her shifts in an attempt to avoid him. Then he changes his shifts too...
- Woobie: Both Frankie and Johnny are damaged people with sad pasts.