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Johnny Handsome (1989)

1:24 | Clip
After being double crossed and thrown in jail, a deformed gangster gets a new face and rehabilitation, but his desire for revenge looms.


Walter Hill


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



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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 Fisher
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)


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


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


Crime | Drama | Thriller


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »






Release Date:

29 September 1989 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Johnny Handsome - Der schöne Johnny See more »


Box Office


$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,437,642, 1 October 1989

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Richard Gere, Al Pacino, and Willem Dafoe were all considered for the lead role of Johnny Handsome. Reportedly, the latter turned-down the part, while it was originally announced that Gere would star with the film, being directed by Harold Becker. In the end, Mickey Rourke was cast in the lead role with Walter Hill directing. See more »


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


Rafe Garrett: You got a real nice face now don't you, Johnny? But I think I liked it better the old way. Yeah, and I think I can help you get it back.
[punches Johnny]
See more »


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

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User Reviews

Look beyond the obvious. Johnny Handsome.
26 January 2005 | by peegeedee3See all my reviews

When I watched the movie Johnny Handsome, over again. I saw it from a whole new perspective. Other commentators that I've read here, looked at the movie only as to, character development, and ongoing plot continuity. They never looked at the movie as a human interest story! A glimpse into a possible life, lived in just the way it was presented! The story of a such a person, who may have actually lived, and who may have had the experiences that the character of John had, deformed as he was, and so may have had to re-acted in exactly the way he did? It's all the figment of some writer's imagination, but stretch your own mind enough to envelope this concept of this one man's life yourself? Saying Mickey Rourke cannot act, is a very short-sighted, and erroneous statement to make, after exploring the complexities of this character's existence overall. Mickey Rourke had the depth, and the finely tuned sensitivity, to convey the hopelessness of spirit, and also the continual confusion, of a totally scarred and horribly deformed, and therefore ugly and repulsive, singular human entity. John started out being socially unassertive,bereft of other contemporaries, visibly embarrassed, and yet, at the same time, pseudo-aggressive, and drawn to the criminal element. Understandably so, due to his low self-esteem, which is a by-product of his off-putting facial deformities. Mickey wore that face as if he truly had been born with it in reality. John's motivation, (for getting revenge on the two miscreants that had plotted against him, and his friend, in the robbery, and then killed his friend and wounded him), was the fact that, although he was hideous to the world at large, that one man had treated him as a person, a confidant, (due in part to John's unique skills), and befriended him, not as a horribly deformed freak, but as a peer, albeit, a peer in criminal activities. Even though, after his operation, John became a, "new man", just like everybody else, acceptable to the general population. This to the point of even attracting a "normal" caring woman to his new self. That wasn't enough to have changed his already well developed, "antisocial, unreasonable, and skewered" psyche. That part of him that would always be "unacceptable", in a so called "normal" world. So when the chance to avenge his only "true" friend, one who had included John (in his former incarnation), into his own bleak life routinely, how could John, with his scarred sensibilities, turn from the possibility of making a re-payment, he felt he "owed" this to Mikey? That alone would have driven John, at any cost, to figure out a way, in which ever way he could, to destroy the two characters, played so viciously and perfectly, by the actors Hendrikson, and Barkin. He fought their fire with his fire. Really this was the only way John knew, and the only option that was opened to him. A new face wouldn't have changed that. How could a person watching this movie expect rationality? I didn't comment on the Freeman character, Drones, because he just did what you would expect a cop to do. See a criminal, and try to find him doing something wrong. Then take him in. Freeman did this very accurately.He did his job, as usual. Still, the old adage applies here, with Mickey's character, John: Walk a mile in another's shoes before you judge him. I feel so sorry for people who watch movies with their mind, and leave their heart, and humanity completely out of it. They miss so much.

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