52 Years Ago Today…
Frankie and Johnny opened starring Elvis Presley, Donna Douglas, Sue Ane Langdon (who previously worked with Elvis in Roustabout), Anthony Eisley, and Nancy Kovack. A bit different than the typical Elvis film, Frankie and Johnny was based loosely on the classic folk song. Set on a Mississippi gambling-showboat circa 1865, it featured Elvis as Johnny a singer and gambler who loves Frankie (Douglas) but she refuses to marry him until he gives up gambling. Together they perform on a showboat owned by Clint Braden (Eisley). Johnny tries to give up gambling but a fortune teller reveals that a beautiful redhead will soon enter his life and change his luck. Things get complicated when the redhead turns out to be Nellie Bly (Kovack) the former lover of Braden. Frankie becomes jealous of Nellie who is only using Johnny to get Braden to marry her and Braden becomes jealous of Johnny. Amidst this complicated quadrangle, Langdon livens up the proceedings as Mitzie, Frankie’s ditzy lovelorn showgirl friend.
“I truly enjoyed my part of Mitzi in Frankie and Johnny,” says Langdon. “I had a great time with that role. I didn’t notice any change with Elvis. He seemed pretty much the same—still a very nice guy. Donna Douglas was of interest to him at that time and he was spending a lot of time with her. I just hung out with the guys on the set like I did on Roustabout. Whenever you were with Elvis for the most part you were with his entourage. Those guys were always around but they were all very nice. I really had a great time working with Elvis but I don’t think he was that comfortable appearing in movies. He was much more relaxed as a singer on stage…”
Read more of my interview with cover girl Sue Ane Langdon in my book Drive-In Dream Girls.