Mikey & Nicky

Mikey & Nicky

1976, R, 106 min. Directed by Elaine May. Starring Peter Falk, John Cassavetes, Ned Beatty, Rose Arrick, Carol Grace, William Hickey, Sanford Meisner, Joyce Van Patten, M. Emmet Walsh.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Wed., May 30, 2001

Mikey & Nicky is commonly, and unfairly, categorized as a John Cassavetes knock-off, which diminishes the originality of Elaine May's screenplay and this character study she crafted especially for co-stars Cassavetes and Peter Falk. She unleashes the darkest, most mercurial side of Cassavetes, and in Falk finds the actor's moral ambiguity that had been obscured as a result of his then-popular run as TV's Columbo. The movie is basically a two-person drama about old friends and maybe current enemies. Nicky (Cassavetes) is a small-time hood with a contract out on his life. Mikey (Falk) is his lifelong friend who may or may not be trying to help Nicky escape his fate. Ned Beatty is the hitman who circles them rapaciously as they spend a high-wire night together. Nicky charms and chills all he encounters, and Mikey begins to recall all the small resentments that have built into a now-impregnable force. The movie grinds along its dark, mordant, and fascinating path until it culminates in one of the most emotionally harrowing scenes ever filmed. May faced difficulties editing Mikey & Nicky, spending years trying to cut together something that satisfied the studio's desires for more conventional fare without compromising her own vision.

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Mikey & Nicky, Elaine May, Peter Falk, John Cassavetes, Ned Beatty, Rose Arrick, Carol Grace, William Hickey, Sanford Meisner, Joyce Van Patten, M. Emmet Walsh

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