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Directed by Elaine May

United States 1976 119 mins. In English

A deep departure from Elaine May’s previous two features—A New Leaf (1971) and The Heartbreak Kid (1972)—this New Hollywood picture owes quite a bit to the towering presence of stars John Cassavetes and Peter Falk, who play the titular characters: small-time Philadelphia criminals on the run from a pissed-off mob boss. Nicky (Cassavetes) is a wiry, violent grifter constantly getting into trouble and asking pal Mikey (Falk) to bail him out, financially and otherwise. The pair, pursued by hitmen, go through a spell of self-examination—both as individuals and about their friendship, which may not have weathered worse conditions. A contentious production in which May famously shot 1.4 million feet of film, with Paramount ultimately taking control of the final edit (essentially burying the film for many years), Mikey & Nicky has come to be regarded as a masterpiece, a key film of the New Hollywood movement, and a crucial examination of American masculinity. Content warning: gendered violence. New restoration!

May set out to use her genius and the overlapping brilliance of Cassavetes and Falk to articulate brutal, profound truths about the joy, horror, and complexities of human experience, as illuminated by the strange codes of a certain subset of insecure, violently overcompensating, crime-prone American men, and a tortured conception of friendship as a messy combination of hatred, love, and everything in between. She succeeded spectacularly, and Mikey and Nicky is an essential reminder that great, deeply personal art endures long after commercial considerations have been rightfully consigned to history.  Nathan Rabin, The Criterion Collection

Genres: Crime Drama

Appears in: Directed by Elaine May

The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.