50th Anniversary Elvis Movie Pictorial – Frankie and Johnny

Frankie and Johnny Movie Poster

Frankie and Johnny opened on March 31, 1966, and was Elvis’s 20th film. Although the quality of his films had fallen off during the previous few years, the fans had kept the box office numbers respectable. But Frankie and Johnny followed a real clunker in Harum Scarum, and attendance dropped about 1/3 from the usual average.

It’s too bad, because this is an enjoyable little firm. And speaking from the male perspective, it had the greatest amount of cleavage of any Elvis movie.

Sue-Ane-Langdon-Donna-Douglas-Nancy-Kovack-in-Frankie-and-Johnny

The pretty blonde in the center is Donna Douglas, talking a break from the Beverly Hillbillies to play Frankie opposite Elvis’ Johnny. The redhead is Nancy Kovak playing Nellie Bly, the woman Johnny believes brings him good luck at the gambling casino in the riverboat where they all work as performers.

SS Mississippi Queen Riverboat from Frankie and Johnny

Frankie and Johnnt Starring on the SS Mississippi Queen

By the way, Elvis’ character has no last name in this picture. He is just Johnny. And he has two problems. Although he’s Frankie’s man, he has a wandering eye for the ladies.

Elvis Checking out the Ladies in Frankie and Johnny

And he has terrible luck at gambling.

Elvis Playing Poker in Frankie and Johnny

 

Naturally this causes many uncomfortable moments with Frankie.

Donna Fussing at Elvis in Frankie and Johnny

But there are lots of fun, happy moments for them, too.

Elvis and Donna Douglas in Dream Sequence in Frankie and Johnny

This is kind of like a dream sequence the film morphs into as Johnny sings a song to Frankie called “Beginner’s Luck.” If you study Elvis’ position for a moment, doesn’t it look like the most unnatural and uncomfortable one possible? Fortunately, he didn’t have to hold it for long.

Elvis and Donna Douglas Dancing in Frankie and Johnny

Frankie and Johnny looked like they really enjoyed doing this dance routine to the song “Petunia, the Gardeners Daughter.” That title might be one of Elvis’ worst, but the song is surprisingly good. I’m going back to my 2012 blog article called Dancing Elvis (in the Movies) to add this shot. And this one, too.

Elvis Dancing with Nellie in Frankie and Johnny

This shot is part of the Showboat’s production number “Frankie and Johnny”. The lyrics say, Johnny was doing Frankie wrong with Nellie Bly. The plot sets this situation up in real life (although mostly in Farnkie’s mind), and also has it as the theme of the production number. In the show, Frankie has had it with Johnny interest in Nellie, and she grabs her gun and shoots him.

Elvis and Riverboat Owner in Frankie and Johnny

This guy is Johnny’s boss, the riverboat owner who has claimed Nellie as his own and sees Johnny as a threat. The word gets to his goon who decides to put a live bullet in Frankie’s gun,

Blackie Puts a Real Bullet in Frankie's Stage Gun

So, when Frankie pulls the trigger, Johnny goes down and it looks like he’s bought the farm.

Donna about to Shoot Elvis in Frankie and Johnny

But, no. Johnny carries a good luck charm from Frankie near his heart, and it stopped the bullet.

Elvis' Lucky Cricket Pendant in Frankie and Johnny

We’ve seen this gimmick before, but it works here. Johnny is not hurt, and the near catastrophe makes them realize their love is meant to be. Happy ending.

 

Here are some additional pictures and my random thoughts.

Frankie Throwing Money Away

This is Frankie in costume for a nightime Mardi Gras party. She has just thrown $10,000 of Johnny’s gambling winnings out the hotel window. Tension and conflicts are necessary for a good movie, and this scene had them big time.

Elvis Singing Hard Luck in Frankie and Johnny

Johnny expresses his loss by singing a blues song “Hard Luck” accompanied by this young harmonica player. Of course, an invisible band of piano, bass, drums, and even trombones is soon heard. Those invisible bands are a staple of Elvis movies.

Elvis Fighting with his Boss in Frankie and Johnny

Another staple of all Elvis movies is a fight scene. Here he is slugging it out with his boss the riverboat owner.

Red West in Frankie and Johnny Cameo

One of my favorite things to do when watching an Elvis movie for the fifth or sixth time is to try to spot some of his buddies in the background. See Red West at the table? Supposedly, George Klein had a cameo in the movie, too, but I couldn’t find him. Maybe I will when I watch for the seventh time.

Frankie and Nellie in Same Costumes in Frankie and Johnny

One of the plot points of the story had Frankie and Nellie wearing identical Madam Pompadour costumes to the Mardi Gras party. Frankie wanted to test Johnny by pretending to be Nellie. After about 30 seconds of coaching, Frankie carries on a substantial dialog with Johnny where she sounds exactly like Nellie. Of course, it was Nancy Kovak dubbing her lines. This was the second time it happened to Donna Douglas in this movie. All of her singing parts were dubbed by someone else.

Elvis in his Gambling Clothes in Frankie and Johnny

One thing I noted was all the different outfits Elvis wore in the movie. We have already shown six or seven. Here are some more.

Leading Parade in New Orleans

 

Frankie & Johnny

 

As usual, we will end this Elvis movie pictorial with him kissing his leading lady.

Elvis Kissing Donna Douglas in Dream in Frankie and Johnny

This kiss took place in the dream sequence and was sweet and tender.

Elvis Gets a Surprise Kissing Donna Douglas in Frankie and Johnny

Elvis’ surprised look here is because he thought he was kissing Nellie but he quickly realized it was Frankie.

Elvis Kissing Donna Douglas in Frankie and Johnny

Here they are later when Frankie’s mask is off and they both enjoy it much more.

 

Editor’s notes:

Donna Douglas died on New Year’s Day 2015. Click here to read more about her.

Nancy Kovak was featured in a 2009 ElvisBlog article titled Star Trek Elvis Connection — Part 2 about actresses that starred in both Star Trek episodes and Elvis movies.  Click here.

 
© 2016 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net

 

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Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.

4 responses to “50th Anniversary Elvis Movie Pictorial – Frankie and Johnny

  1. Great comments on ‘Frankie & Johnny’! I consider it one of my favs! Great actors and fantastic period costumes!!!….1st rate all the way….I am curious NOW about JK ( The only Elvis friend that I was lucky enough to meet, across Elvis Presley Blvd at the Sirius Elvis Radio Booth!I was so nervous while talking to him, that I FORGOT to ask to see the ‘famous Emerald Ring he wears on his right hand…a personal gift from Elvis, who had worn it too!) Will have to watch again to find George Klein also! Happy Easter Phil…TCB

    • Hi Clementine. I usually find Elvis’ buddies when I watch the movie DVDs on my laptop and can do pause and step-forward and backward. Especially works with group scenes like customers in a bar, etc.

      Try it.

      Phil

  2. Paul Maringelli

    You forgot to name the brunette. She is Sue Ann Langdon and she’s really a blonde.

    • Hi Paul: You are right. Sue Ann Langdon’ character Mitzi added much of the comedy in the movie.

      Phil Arnold, Original ElvisBlogmeister

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