Mikey & Nicky (1976)

mikey and nicky poster 1976 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great rapport between Cassavetes and Falk

Story goes where you kind of expect it to

Movie Info

Movie Name: Mikey & Nicky

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Genre(s): Drama

Release Date(s):  December 21, 1976

MPAA Rating: R

mikey and nicky bus scene peter falk john cassavetes

Ready for a fun night of good times?

Nicky (John Cassavetes) is running on empty.  He’s stolen from his boss, and people are out to get him.  The only one Mikey can turn to is Mikey (Peter Falk), but even Mikey has limits.  Nicky is out of control, and Mikey (part of “the family” himself) has priorities.  As Mikey tries to keep Nicky in check through a wild night of drinking and partying, the danger is getting closer…and Nicky runs the risk of alienating the one person who can possibly help him.

Written and directed by Elaine May, Mikey and Nicky is a crime drama.  The film suffered production problems and arguments between May and the studio led to delays and multiple versions.  The film received positive reviews but fared poorly at the box office.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #957).

This is exactly my kind of movie.  It comes from the gritty 1970s, doesn’t necessarily have much resolution, but it generally has an ending.  Having never seen Mikey and Nicky, Mikey and Nicky still felt familiar…and this has its pluses and negatives.

mikey and nicky ned beatty

I’m going to kill both of them by the end of the night at this rate…

The story isn’t incidental, but it sometimes almost feels incidental.  Nicky did something wrong and Mikey’s hand is forced.  Mikey is a family man trying to move up in the world while Nicky is popular but in a downward spiral.  Though it only represents one night, it feels like Mikey and Nicky have played out this scenario over and over again…and Mikey is getting tired of the game.  It is one night but it is the one hundredth time it has happened and everyone (even Nicky) has grown weary of the pattern.

What works is the great push-pull relationship between Mikey and Nicky played by Peter Falk and John Cassavetes.  I primarily (like a lot of people) see Falk as Columbo, so it is always interesting to be reminded that he had a nice number of movie outside Columbo (which he started around the time of this film).  Cassavetes also was popular at this time and known for his edgy movies.  They combine well and feel real in their relationship.  Everyone else including Ned Beatty, Joyce Van Patten, William Hickey, and Carol Grace seem secondary to the relationship between Nicky and Mikey.

mikey and nicky ending peter falk

No…I don’t want a copy of The Watchtower!!!

The movie was notoriously over-shot.  The amount of film shot for the movie surpassed three times the amount of footage shot for Gone with the Wind, and the movie isn’t that long.  It makes you look at the movie and question a few of the choices that were made and also wonder what great scenes (supplemental or extended) might have been lost in the process.

Mikey and Nicky is an interesting if not somewhat mundane type movie.  It kind of goes the direction you’d expect and ends in a way that is inevitable.  The real fun of the movie is the path of the two leads and how it starts vs. how it ends.  The filmmaker Elaine May didn’t do another film for years after this movie due to the problematic shoot…and then she made Ishtar (which had problems of its own).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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