Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp Film #11--Don Juan DeMarco (1994)

A note from me:
I know, it's late--technically. While I could go into detail about my frustrating struggles to format this post correctly for the last 4 hours, I'll just say that Blogger does not always cooperate. The spacing will apparently be eternally off, and there is nothing I can do about it. Wait, should I challenge Blogger to a duel now? I don't think I'd win. Oh well--Here's this month's Johnny Kitties....Enjoy!

[What is Johnny Kitties? See Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp for all the details.]

Johnny is Don Juan!
"Oh well, now I must die."
© New Line Cinema
Ten days before retirement, psychiatrist Jack Mickler (Marlon Brando) meets his next patient who challenges him to a duel. Dressed in full regalia of fabled Spanish seducer Don Juan DeMarco (Johnny Depp), the broken-hearted 21-year-old threatens suicide over his lost love Dona Ana. Dr. Mickler thinks fast, poses as Don Octavio De Flores, and talks him out of it. They strike a deal: Don Juan had 10 days to tell his story (in a great Spanish accent that Johnny modeled after Ricardo Mantalban by watching "Fantasy Island" reruns--I love that!). Then, Dr. Mickler must decide whether Don Juan's telling the truth or if he should be committed to a mental institution. 

Along with Dr. Mickler, the hospital staff is soon transfixed by Don Juan, his story, and his views on love and life. Who can  blame them? As Dr. Mickler says, "It's a wonderful world that he's in."

Johnny meets Marlon Brando!
Instant pals...
© New Line Cinema
Not only is the thought of Johnny portraying The World's Greatest Lover quite appealing, but this film also reunites Johnny with Faye Dunaway for the first time since Arizona Dream. The most exciting thing about this movie, though, is that Johnny costars with Marlon Brando! Recognizing the importance of this pairing, I was even more thrilled to learn that it was Johnny's idea to cast Marlon as the psychiatrist. (Imagine me nodding here, "Of course he did!") "Everybody looked at me like I was insane," Johnny says, "But he's the one I kept seeing in the role when I read the script." Although writer/director Jeremy Leven assumed there was no chance to cast Marlon Brando, he agreed to try anyway. "The next thing I know, I'm sitting in Marlon's living room, and we're making a movie," Leven remembers. "I think he really liked Johnny." (Imagine me nodding here, "Of course he did!")

The rest of the crew describes the experience as the passing of the torch from the greatest actor of one generation to the greatest actor of another. "I think Johnny is far and away the most talented of today's young actors," Jeremy Leven notes. "He is very much like Marlon on many fronts. They both have a 100% bull detector in that they know what is false and not working in a scene. They both have incredible instinct for knowing what writing is all about. And then, of course, they both have a lot of turmoil inside." Johnny takes a different view: "All the feelings are there--teacher and student, father and son. He's a hero." 

Johnny and Marlon loved working together on this film. "The most important thing I learned from Marlon was to keep a straight face," Johnny says. "That became the objective in a lot of the scenes, to just be able to get through it without exploding. Marlon is hilarious." They enjoyed a similar sense of humor and remained close friends until Marlon's death 10 years later. Can you imagine? Once the film was released, Johnny had to respond to constant questions about his relationship with the screen legend. Early on, he mentioned that his sister heard a phone message from Marlon on his answering machine once. Her comment: "Your life is so surreal...."

© New Line Cinema
Don Juan is contagious.
Don Juan DeMarco will make you happy. This film has a special spirit and sweetness with really funny moments that the whole family can enjoy. (Mine did.) Whether you believe Don Juan's story or not, you can't help but want become part of his world or--at least--appreciate love a little more than you did before.

(Be warned, like Benny and JoonDon Juan De Marco includes another infectious song, Bryan Adams's "Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman." It will get--Great, it's stuck in my head.) 

The Kitties feel the love....
My favorite scene in this movie is the one in which Johnny isn't being Don Juan. But I lost the vote to draw that. When your subject is The World's Greatest Lover, you have to acknowledge all of his conquests--despite the daunting task of portraying 1,501 cats. 

So, here, Don Juan is in session with Dr. Mickler (Norman). They are discussing his escape from the harem in which he was enslaved for 2 years.

Johnny Kitties: Celebrating Johnny Depp Film #11--Don Juan De Marco (1994) [May 30, 2011]

While Don Juan describes bidding adios to his many lovers, I imagine this tale may have sparked other romantic notions in Dr. Mickler. He may not realize it yet, but inspiration is brewing. Soon, he'll learn of Don Juan's true love Dona Ana, and Dr. Mickler will book a flight with his wife (The Mother Kitty) and ex-patient to the Island of Eros, where Dona Ana has vowed to wait through all eternity for Don Juan's return.

Do you think she's still there? Do you see yourselves waltzing on the beach with The Micklers now too? Why not?

Next month, Johnny's late for an appointment.
Johnny loses the accent and plays an accountant. Set your watch for action/thriller Nick of Time.

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