After being double crossed and thrown in jail, a deformed gangster gets a new face and rehabilitation, but his desire for revenge looms.

Director:

Walter Hill

Writers:

John Godey (novel), Ken Friedman (screenplay)
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3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Mickey Rourke ... John 'Johnny Handsome' Sedley / Johnny Mitchell
Ellen Barkin ... Sunny Boyd
Elizabeth McGovern ... Donna McCarty
Morgan Freeman ... Lt. A.Z. Drones
Forest Whitaker ... Dr. Steven Resher
Lance Henriksen ... Rafe Garrett
Scott Wilson ... Mikey Chalmette
David Schramm ... Vic Dumask
Yvonne Bryceland Yvonne Bryceland ... Sister Luke
Peter Jason ... Mr. Bonet
J.W. Smith J.W. Smith ... Larry
Jeffrey Meek ... Earl (as Jeff Meek)
Allan Graf ... Bob Lemoyne
Ed Zang Ed Zang ... Prestige Manager
John P. Fertitta ... Prestige Salesman (as John Fertitta)
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Storyline

Johnny Handsome is a deformed gangster who plans a successful robbery with a friend of his, Mikey Chalmette, and another couple (Sunny Boid and Rafe Garrett). During the heist, Johnny and Mikey are double-crossed by Sunny and Rafe---Mikey is killed and Johnny sent to prison. While in prison, Johnny is invited to a rehabilitation program, where Dr. Steven Fischer rebuilds Johnny's face and helps Johnny get paroled. Johnny starts working in a shipyard, where he meets Donna McCarty and starts a romance. Lt. A.Z. Drones is a skeptical detective who follows the rehabilitation of Johnny. Johnny's new life is consumed by the desire of payback. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They changed his looks, his life and his future... but they couldn't change his past. See more »

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Thriller

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The make-up applied to Mickey Rourke's face took three hours each day to apply. See more »

Goofs

During the graveyard scene, Larry "pumps" the action on a double barreled shotgun. See more »

Quotes

[Last lines]
Lt. A.Z. Drones: Well, Johnny. That damn doctor didn't understand this part, did he?
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Connections

Referenced in Eye of the Beholder (2010) See more »

User Reviews

 
Walter Hill's undervalued neo-noir.
31 March 2014 | by hitchcockthelegendSee all my reviews

Johnny Handsome is directed by Walter Hill and adapted to screenplay by Ken Friedman from the novel "The Three Worlds of Johnny Handsome" written by John Godey. It stars Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, Elizabeth McGovern, Lance Henriksen, Forest Whitaker, Morgan Freeman and Scott Wilson. Music is by Ry Cooder and cinematography by Matthew F. Leonetti.

John Sedley (Rourke), AKA: Johnny Handsome, has a severely disfigured face, when he and his only real friend are double-crossed by two accomplices during a robbery, Johnny is sent to prison and his life reaches a new low. However, hope springs in the form of Dr. Steven Fisher (Whitaker), a pioneering plastic surgeon who offers to give Johnny surgery that would give him a normal face as he attempts to integrate back into society. With a new face making him unrecognisable, there is scope to enact revenge on the two people who killed his best friend and had him put in prison...

Walter Hill knows his film noir, anyone who has seen The Driver knows this. Here for Johnny Handsome, Hill takes a lot of the fantastical elements of noir and dresses it up admirably as a violent revenge thriller. A box office flop and something of a kicking post for big hitting critics of the late 1980s, it's a film that now can be seen as being very much in tune with its influences.

The charges of it being too bonkers, too violent and too much of a "B" movie homage just don't add up, because what is on offer is good solid meaty neo-noir cinema. A protagonist with an affliction, medical shenanigans, hyper femme fatale, over the top villain and a stoic and sarcastic gumshoe type copper. All of which operate in a sweaty and luridly coloured New Orleans. Add in Hill's eye for aggressive action sequences and it's neo a go-go.

Hill gets strong performances from his cast, ensuring emotional bonds are not over egged and a clamour for sympathy and understanding kept to a bearable level by the actors playing the "good" guys "n" dolls. While giving Henriksen and Barkin licence to sizzle with sinister glee is astute and perfectly in tune with the material on the page. Leonetti's photography has the requisite pulpy noirishness to it, and the familiar twangs of Ry Cooder are never a bad thing in a Walter Hill movie.

It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but those complaining about missed opportunities regarding rehabilitation - or that the liberal doctor turns out to be clinically wrong in his reform beliefs - really are missing the point or unaware of the world where something like Johnny Handsome lives. From the kinetic misery at film's start, to the "ever so in tune with film noir" finale, Johnny Handsome is well worth a look by anyone interested in noir's updated version. 7/10


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

29 September 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Johnny Handsome See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,437,642, 1 October 1989

Gross USA:

$7,237,794

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$7,237,794
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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