Johnny Cool (1963): William Asher’s Noir Crime, Starring Henry Silva and Elizabeth Montgomery

William Asher directed Johnny Cool, a noir crime drama, based on the novel The Kingdom of Johnny Cool by John McPartland, starring Henry Silva and Elizabeth Montgomery.

Grade: B (*** out of *****)

Johnny Cool
Johnny Cool FilmPoster.jpeg

Theatrical release poster

Produced by Peter Lawford, Johnny Cool also includes Mort Sahl, Telly Savalas, Jim Backus, Joey Bishop, and Sammy Davis, Jr., who sings the theme song.

Johnny Colini, an exiled American living in Rome, rescues Sicilian outlaw Salvatore Giordano from the police. After Giordano is groomed and renamed “Johnny Cool,” Colini sends him on a mission of vengeance to assassinate the men who plotted his downfall and enforced exile. Johnny arrives in New York and quickly kills several of the underworld figures on Colini’s list.

He picks up Darien “Dare” Guinness, a wealthy divorcée who becomes his accomplice. Later on, she’s severely beaten by the gangsters as a warning to Johnny.

Soon the FBI becomes involved, and when Johnny and Dare bomb the Hollywood home of gangster Lennart Crandall, the police identify Dare’s car on the street. The two had planned to meet later, but Dare, realizing that Johnny is vicious killer, rats on him.

In the end, she surrenders herself to the FBI, as Johnny is being tortured by his captors.

Made on a low budget of about $500,000, the movie recouped its expense at the box-office and even generated some coin.

Henry Silva as Johnny Cool / Salvatore Giordano
Elizabeth Montgomery as Darien “Dare” Guinness
Richard Anderson as Correspondent
Jim Backus as Louis Murphy
Joey Bishop as Holmes, Used Car Salesman
Brad Dexter as Lennart Crandall
Mort Sahl as Ben Morrow
Telly Savalas as Vincenzo ‘Vince’ Santangelo
Sammy Davis, Jr. as Educated
Marc Lawrence as Johnny Colini
John McGiver as Oscar B. ‘Oby’ Hinds
Joseph Calleia as tourist
Clegg Hoyt as Craps Player


Directed by William Asher
Written by Joseph Landon, based on John McPartland (novel)
Music by Billy May

Production: Chrislaw Productions

Distributed by United Artists

Release date: October 19, 1963

Running time: 103 minutes


TCM showed the movie on August 11 as part of a tribute to Sammy Davis Jr.