Mikey and Nicky

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Mikey and Nicky
theatrical release poster
Directed byElaine May
Produced byMichael Hausman
Written byElaine May
StarringPeter Falk
John Cassavetes
Music byJohn Strauss
CinematographyBernie Abramson
Lucien Ballard
Victor J. Kemper
Edited byJohn Carter
Sheldon Kahn
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • December 21, 1976 (1976-12-21)
Running time
106 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$4.3 million

Mikey and Nicky is a 1976 American gangster film written and directed by Elaine May and starring Peter Falk and John Cassavetes. The supporting cast features Ned Beatty and noted acting teacher Sanford Meisner.


When Nicky (John Cassavetes) calls Mikey (Peter Falk) yet again to bail him out of trouble—this time a contract on his life for money he stole from his mob boss—Mikey, as always, shows up to help. Overcoming the obstacles of Nicky's paranoia and blind fear, Mikey gets him out of the hotel where he has holed up, and starts to help him plan his escape, but Nicky keeps changing the plan, and a hit man is hot on their trail. As they try to make their escape, the two friends have to confront issues of betrayal, regret, and the value of friendship versus self-preservation.


Cast notes

Production and release[edit]

Originally intended as a summer 1976 release, then delayed by editing problems, Mikey and Nicky was released in New York City on December 21, 1976. Because May missed the film's delivery date, litigation between her and Paramount began in 1975, with the studio gaining possession of the film with final cut privilege. May did not direct again for over a decade.

The film's original $1.8 million budget had grown to nearly $4.3 million ($16.6 million in contemporary dollars[1]) by the time May turned the film over to Paramount. She shot 1.4 million feet of film, almost three times as much as was shot for Gone with the Wind. By using three cameras that she sometimes left running for hours, May captured spontaneous interaction between Falk and Cassavetes. At one point, Cassavetes and Falk had both left the set and the cameras remained rolling for several minutes. A new camera operator said "Cut!" only to be immediately rebuked by May for usurping what is traditionally a director's command. He protested that the two actors had left the set. "Yes", replied May, "but they might come back".[2] May was even said to have hidden reels of film from Paramount in order to maintain control during postproduction.[3]

Angered by May's contentiousness during filming and editing, Paramount booked the completed film into theaters for a few days to satisfy contractual obligations, but did not give the film its full support. In 1978, Julian Schlossberg, who had previously worked in acquisitions for Paramount before starting his own company, Castle Hill Productions, purchased the rights from the studio with May and Falk.

A new version of the film, approved by May, was shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City for the Directors Guild of America Fiftieth Anniversary Tribute on November 17, 1986. The film was also shown in Park City, Utah, at the United States Film Festival's Tribute to John Cassavetes on January 25, 1989.

As of March 2019, Mikey and Nicky holds a rating of 82% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 17 reviews.


  1. ^ Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Retrieved January 2, 2019.
  2. ^ Blum, David (16 March 1987). "The Road to 'Ishtar': How Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman and Elaine May Made a Farce in the Desert for Just $40 Million". New York: 42.
  3. ^ Rabin, Nathan. "Mikey and Nicky: Difficult Men". The Criterion Collection. Retrieved 2019-01-28.

External links[edit]