Mikey-and-Nicky

The Making of John Cassavetes' Husbands

One of these guys doesn’t make it past these opening credits…

For reasons unrelated to this blog I’m revisiting eight of the films made by John Cassavetes, as well as Mikey and Nicky, which was directed by the under-appreciated Elaine May and stars Cassavetes and his collaborative pal Peter Faulk. As many others seem to do, lump Mikey and Nicky into the Cassavetes oeuvre, mainly because it was obviously incredibly influenced by his approach to filmmaking. It also may be my personal favourite Cassavetes related film (although, I do love that zany De Palma flick Fury).

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When Falk first offered Mikey and Nicky to Cassavetes, John agreed to do it so fast that Falk thought he wasn’t taking it seriously. When Falk told him he wanted to tell him the plot and give him a copy of the script, this is how Falk recounts Cassavetes’ outrageous reaction:

What do you think? I don’t know Elaine May can write? I don’t know you can act? You need to pitch it to me? You think I’m one of those businessmen! You think I am like you and have to have everything figured out before I begin something? That I have to have all the details in place? That I’m afraid to take a chance? That I have to play it safe? Elaine’s making it; you’re in it; that’s all I need to know. 

Elaine May during postproduction on Mikey and Nicky:

“May seemed to enjoy the minutiae of editing (in its way, a visual analogue to improvisation), although at times her habits became erratic. Some nights she would return to the editing bays after the editors had gone home, with Cassavetes in tow, and systematically undo everything the editors had done that day, then disappear for forty-eight hours. Cassavetes, Falk, and the writer Peter Feibleman were among the chosen few allowed to visit. At some point during postproduction, Jeannie Berlin also moved into the Sunset Marquis. May herself rarely ventured out, save to troll from her suite to the cutting room, her figure wraith-like, her face occasionally painted with intense mask like makeup. She had forbidden the maids from entering her private bedroom for ten months, and when she left the remaining production staff found rotting banana peels and apple cores strewn in her bed, the charred remains of TV dinners in the oven, the blackout curtains across all the windows. She’d written notes to herself in lipstick across all the mirrors. May seemed to lived primarily on pills and health food. At one point she even commanded an underling to bring her only pink food. "If you put any salt in the food,” May told one waitress, “I will die right here.”

From Rachel Abramowitz’ Is That a Gun in Your Pocket?

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Greta’s Top Ten, All Time Favorite Movies (in no particular order): #10 Mikey and Nicky (1976)

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Wherein I talk about Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky. I display rampant misandry and a general dislike of 70s cinema in this video. (Although, I didn’t hate this film per se)