Musical Monday: Frankie and Johnny (1966)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

frankie and johnnyThis week’s musical:
Frankie and Johnny (1966) – Musical #681

Studio:
United Artists

Director:
Frederick De Cordova

Starring:
Elvis Presley, Donna Douglas, Harry Morgan, Sue Ann Langdon, Nancy Kovacs, Audrey Christie, Robert Strauss, Anthony Eisley, Joyce Jameson, Jerome Cowan (uncredited), Eddie Quillan (uncredited), Naomi Stevens (uncredited)

Plot:
Johnny (Presley) is a singer on a riverboat. Much to the chagrin of his girlfriend Frankie (Douglas), Johnny gambles all of his salary away, because he’s constantly on a losing streak. A gypsy tells Johnny that a redhead will bring him luck. When redheaded Nellie Bly (Kovacs) comes aboard, Johnny woes her, getting himself in trouble with Frankie, and Nellie’s boyfriend (and his boss), Braden (Eisley).

Trivia:
• Eileen Wilson dubbed Donna Douglas’s singing voice.
• Ray Walker dubbed Harry Morgan’s singing voice in the song “Lookout Broadway.”
• Based on the ballad song “Frankie and Johnny.”
• Similar to the 1936 film “Frankie and Johnnie” starring Chester Morris, Helen Morgan, Lilyan Tashman.

frankie adn johnny4

Highlights:
• Sue Ann Langdon
• “Beginner’s Luck” dream sequence

Notable Songs:
• “Frankie and Johnny” performed by Elvis Presley, Eileen Wilson for Donna Douglas, Sue Ann Langdon
• “Chesay” performed by Elvis Presley, Harry Morgan, Naomi Stevens
• “Beginner’s Luck” performed by Elvis Presley
• “Down By the Riverside” performed by Elvis Presley
• “Hard Luck” performed by Elvis Presley

My review:
Most Elvis Presley movies are mindless, colorful fun.

Others just end up being a bit mindless. FRANKIE AND JOHNNY (1966) may fall into that category.

frankie and johnny3A little different than most Elvis movies, this is a period film set on a Mississippi River gambling boat. And Johnny (Presley) has a gambling problem that keeps him and his girlfriend Frankie (Donna) at odds. The two continue to be at odds when Nellie Bly (Kovack) arrives and brings Johnny gambling luck.

As far as plot and comedy go, FRANKIE AND JOHNNY are light, relatively pleasant fair. But man are the music and clothing all over the place.

For example, while we are set in the 1800s, during the “Petunia” number, Elvis is fully wearing a Yale college sweater tailor made for the 1920s. Some of the songs are quite period appropriate either.

Donna Douglas is lovely in the film, but is an odd pick as an Elvis leading lady since she doesn’t do her own singing.

However, if you enjoy the song “Frankie and Johnny,” this may be a good time for you, because they also perform the full number twice.

I hate to sound like I’m too hard on this film, it really was a good time. But it doesn’t quite have the ridiculous charm as some other Elvis films (See: Tickle Me).

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3 thoughts on “Musical Monday: Frankie and Johnny (1966)

  1. I’m not sure that it is entirely mindless – about 99% of it is, but there are some mildly amusing sequences, such as the one where Elvis lies, apparently dying, asking if Frankie still wants him. Yes, she replies. “Well – you got me!” Elvis says and gets straight up. The bullet had been stopped by a coin or a medal or something like that. I love that little sequence. x

    Liked by 1 person

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