Daily Archives: March 29, 2022

Mikey and Nicky (essay for the DVD)

This was written in October 2003  for the DVD released in 2004 by Home Vision Entertainment. DVD Beaver persuasively argues that this edition (currently unavailable, alas) is far superior to the Region 2 PAL release on Odyssey Video.  — J.R.

Thanks to an appointment book, I can pinpoint that the first time I saw Mikey and Nicky was on January 7th, 1977, at New York’s Little Carnegie. The experience was a shock. In contrast to A New Leaf (1971) and The Heartbreak Kid (1972) —- Elaine May’s two previous features, both slick (if caustic) Hollywood comedies —- this was a harsh gangster drama in drab urban locations, and, even stranger, a near-facsimile of John Cassavetes’s raw independent features, costarring Cassavetes himself as Nicky and one of his regulars, Peter Falk, as Mikey. The editing was full of continuity errors, the garrulous performances free-wheeling and seemingly full of improvisations (as I then wrongly assumed Cassavetes’ own features were). But the brutal force of an alternately nurtured and betrayed friendship between two small-time crooks over one long night in Philadelphia was so ferocious that it left me shaken as well as bewildered.

The second time I saw the film was in 1980, when I programmed it for “Buried Treasures” at the Toronto Film Festival; this inadvertently became the world premiere of the film’s final version. Read more