FEATURE FRANKIE & JOHNle
After the phenomenal success of Pretty Woman, TV tycoon turned movie mainman GARRY MARSHALL faces his sternest challenge to date, making stellar superbeings Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino credible as lurvestruck ordinary folks in the streetwise romance Frankie and Johnny. Trevor Johnston checks out the wit and wisdom of entertainment‘s very own eminence grise.
fMartin Scorsese hadn‘t already
given the term a somewhat ironic
tint. Garry Marshall has more ofa
claim on the title ‘King ofComedy‘
than most. As the writer.
producer. director and all-round moving force behind televisual milestones from The ()ch Couple. right through to Mork and Mindy and Happy Days, this is a man who‘s spent his life exploring the elusive art of the Chortle. After a run of movies which gained critical plaudits but modest audiences — The Flamingo Kid among them — Marshall hit the big screen’s
big time with the peppy wish—fulfilment schmaltz of Pretty Woman. creating a new patron saint ofthe box office cash register in Julia Roberts while he was about it.
‘People like to find a new star and Julia was someone new.’ he reflects. the Brooklyn accent and phrasing as distinctive as ever. ‘so the timing was just right. The moment was right for glamour too. I think. I purposely took the two most beautiful people I could find. dressed ‘cm up in the most beautiful clothes. put ‘em in the most beautiful sets. played the most beautiful music. The studio hated the opera at the
end. you know. but I told ‘em everyone‘d love it.‘
From Verdi‘s La 'I‘raviata. it‘s a mere skip across the classical repertoire to Claude Debussy. whose best known piano piece inspired the title for Terrance McNally‘s award-winning stage two—hander Frankie andlohnny in the (,‘laire de Lune. It's used to underscore a key emotional moment as the central characters. a waitress and a short order cook. transcend their inarticulacy and movingly express their depth of feeling for I each other. In Marshall‘s new and radically i opened-out film version. it‘s highly indicative of the filmmaker‘s schmaltzily good-natured style that while Pfeiffer and Pacino bill and coo. the limpid impressionism of Debussy‘s solo kevboard gets the briefest moment to speak for itself before being overwhelmed by a massively swooning string arrangement. Given the controversial casting of the two stars (Kathy Misery Bates. for whom the theatre role had