Synopsis by Mark Deming
A handful of semi-professional musicians struggle to make a name for themselves in this nostalgic comedy-drama set in Italy in the mid-seventies. Faustino (Antimo Merolillo) is a would-be jazz guitarist who has just graduated from school and is looking for a gig, at least in part because he's trying to avoid the military draft. If he can get local promoter Raffaele (Ernesto Mahieux) to sign him to a contract, Faustino can tell the draft board that he's a professional supporting his widowed mother with his career in music, but getting Raffaele to make a deal is proving difficult. Faustino plays part time with a local band led by hard-drinking Mimmo Falasco (Toni Servillo), but when Augusto Riverberi (Fabrizio Bentivoglio), a once-famous bandleader looking to make a comeback, arrives in town, Raffaele pulls some strings and gets Faustino a job as Riverberi's assistant. In need of a singer, Faustino and Raffaele persuade Riverberi to hire a vocalist named Gerry Como (Peppe Servillo), and the first few dates of the tour go well as Riverberi entertains the crowds and juggles romances with Faustino's mother (Lina Sastri) and a lovely small-town hairdresser (Valeria Golino). But when Raffaele double-crosses Riverberi and runs off with the band's money, Faustino begins to wonder if he'll ever make good as a musician. Lascia Perdere, Johnny! (aka Don't Waste Your Time, Johnny!) was the first directorial credit for veteran actor Fabrizio Bentivoglio, who also co-stars as the bandleader Riverberi.