Frankie and Johnny/ Prelude to a Kiss

Often compared, but never really in the same class as each other, Frankie and Johnny and Prelude to a Kiss are two play-to-film-adaptations that couldn’t be more different. Their love stories, locations and high-powered casts are virtually interchangeable, but they’re like vehicles taking different routes to reach the same destination, Frankie and Johnny providing a grounded view of the world, Prelude to a Kiss the view of the gods.Frankie at the PartyFrankie and Johnny is the tale of two characters played by Michelle Pfeiffer and Al Pacino, who are just trying to get by in life. Just trying to eke out a living. When Johnny (Pacino) fresh out of prison, meets Frankie (Pfeiffer) at a Greek diner he falls in love. He’s convinced they are soul mates and despite Frankie’s reservations, nothing will deter him in his pursuit of her.You Drink MolsonPrelude to a Kiss opens with an intoxicating, whirlwind romance between publishing executive Peter (Alec Baldwin) and bartender (Meg Ryan) who meet at a party. Initially they appear to be an unlikely couple, with Peter a studious, yuppie type, and Rita a fun-loving free spirit, who dances wildly to I Touch Myself by the Divinyls.Dancing to the DivynylsIt isn’t long though before they’re living together and making plans to be married. On their wedding day, a strange event occurs when an old man appears, wishes the young couple well, and asks to kiss the bride. As their lips meet, storm clouds gather and an unearthly wind blows; as Rita’s soul goes free.Ritas Soul Goes FreeI think Prelude to a Kiss is a stupendously original film, one that doesn’t fit into any mould. In a way, Prelude follows the pattern of a traditional romance, where the characters are torn apart by plot complications, before finding their way back to each other for the happy ending.The difference here is the originality of those plot complications.Flower Market KissThe appeal of Frankie and Johnny lies in the air of melancholy that surrounds the two main characters, both beaten down by life and struggling to overcome their fears. Frankie is more colourful, with a larger cast of characters and more humour, but Prelude has deeper and more meaningful dialogue, one line in particular towards the film’s end touches me profoundly: “Never to be squandered, the miracle of another human being.”
A Prelude that Never DiesTo see the same basic story told in two different ways in such close proximity to each other is actually quite fascinating. Still, I was pleasantly surprised by how much more I enjoyed Prelude to a Kiss than Frankie and Johnny. Both are superb, but Prelude to a Kiss isn’t just a film to me, it’s part of my DNA.

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12 Comments

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12 responses to “Frankie and Johnny/ Prelude to a Kiss

  1. Frankie and Johnny is sublime, I love the ending with Debussy’s beautiful “Clair de Lune” weaving it all together … I would class it as a perfect film, it has everything.

    • It’s hard to say why your favourite films are your favourite films. Out of the thousands you see, some just strike a chord, but once they’re with you, they stay with you.It’s like finding the perfect partner, there are no rules, no guarantees, your heart loves what it loves.

      • Amen to that, you put that so well. I would never cite Blade Runner as the best film ever made, or even the best sci fi movie, but I fell head over heels in love with it back in 1982. Likewise there are several guilty pleasures among my other favourite films but you love what you love. I admire many ‘better’ films but its kind of weird the ones that stay with you. I think its an emotional connection, how the film makes you feel, that can sometimes be hard to explain.

        Regards Prelude to a Kiss, I’ve never seen it but you’ve got me intrigued.

  2. I love this movie, good choice, but my favorite Meg Ryan film is French Kiss! 😀

    • Welcome. As you’ve probably noticed I have a weak spot for 1990’s Meg Ryan movies and her pair ups were always interesting, whether Matthew Broderick, Tim Robbins, Billy Crystal or in this case a French Kevin Kline. French Kiss may be an under-appreciated romantic comedy, but it works for me. It makes me laugh a lot and is always an easy watch.

  3. RB

    I promise to never sigh or roll my eyes, because I so enjoy the way you write!

  4. Jay

    I like both films, but in terms of ‘best’ I agree with you, Prelude to a Kiss has the better chemistry – it’s one of Ryan’s best performances.

  5. It’s been ages since I saw these Paul, but Michelle and Meg are just so adorable and they really do have the best hair! It’s just playful and sexy. “Prelude to a Kiss isn’t just a film, it’s part of my DNA” Ahah, I love that!

  6. Paul S,

    I’m not sure how you do it, but even this Deja Vu stuff hooks me. You are so eternally into Meg…she’s a lucky girl. 🙂

    RR

  7. Jay

    Interestingly, I believe the same song was used in both movies. 🙂
    And I do absolutely love both films. I think Prelude takes a slight lead because Ryan is such a delight.

  8. Love your passion for Prelude but Frankie and Johnny is unbeatable! The dynamic and the chemistry between Pfeiffer and Pacino cannot be denied.

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