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SPECIFICATIONS
  • 1.85:1 Widescreen
  • English PCM Mono
  • English subtitles
  • 1 Disc
FEATURES
  • New program on the making of the film featuring interviews with distributor Julian Schlossberg and actor Joyce Van Patten
  • New interviews with critics Richard Brody and Carrie Rickey
  • Audio interview from 1976 with actor Peter Falk
  • Trailer
  • Tv spot
  • An essay by critic Nathan Rabin

Mikey and Nicky

Blu-ray
Reviewed by: Chris Galloway

Directed By: Elaine May
1976 | 106 Minutes | Licensor: Jumer Productions, Inc.

Release Information
Blu-ray | MSRP: $39.95 | Series: The Criterion Collection | Edition: #957
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Release Date: January 22, 2019
Review Date: January 21, 2019

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SYNOPSIS

Elaine May crafted a gangster film like no other in the nocturnal odyssey Mikey and Nicky, capitalizing on the chemistry between frequent collaborators John Cassavetes and Peter Falk by casting them together as small-time mobsters whose lifelong relationship has turned sour. Set over the course of one night, this restless drama finds Nicky (Cassavetes) holed up in a hotel after the boss he stole money from puts a hit out on him. Terrified, he calls on Mikey (Falk), the one person he thinks can save him. Scripted to match the live-wire energy of its stars—alongside supporting players Ned Beatty, Joyce Van Patten, and Carol Grace—and inspired by real-life characters from May’s own childhood, this unbridled portrait of male friendship turned tragic is an unsung masterpiece of American cinema.


PICTURE

Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky gets a fairly long overdue edition from the Criterion Collection, who present the film on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The new 1080p/24hz high-definition encode is taken from a new 4K restoration scanned from the 35mm original camera negative.

Mikey and Nicky is an incredibly dark and gritty looking film. The film takes place primarily over one night and exterior shots seem to use whatever “natural” lighting (street lights) is available at the moment. These shots are very dark with blacks that can flatten the image a bit, making some scenes a little hard to see. But this is all a side effect of the photography and the lighting conditions so the presentation delivers it the best it can. The film is also incredibly grainy, always heavy and in your face, but it’s rendered gorgeously. The grain never looks pixilated or blocky, never like noise. It remains natural and clean throughout.

Most impressive, though, and the biggest surprise, is just how clean the image is here. A few minor marks pop up in places but there’s next to nothing here. It’s really about as clean as one could hope. In the end, yes, it’s not the prettiest looking film. It’s dark, it’s grainy, loaded to the gills with browns and grays, but it really looks incredible.

9/10

All Blu-ray screen captures come from the source disc and have been shrunk from 1920x1080 to 900x506 and slightly compressed to conserve space. While they are not exact representations they should offer a general idea of overall video quality.

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AUDIO

The film comes with a lossless PCM 1.0 mono track. The track has decent range and fidelity, a surprise considering the very low budget, off-the-cuff feel the film has. Dialogue always manages to come through cleanly and clearly, and the sounds of the city streets show some fidelity. The track is also clean, free of distortion and damage.

7/10

SUPPLEMENTS

Criterion gathers a couple of new interview features: Collaborators (15-minutes), which features actor Joyce Van Patten and distributor Julian Schlossberg, and Critics (24-minutes), featuring Richard Brody and Carrie Rickey. Van Patten talks about working under May and both Cassavetes and Falk, while Schlossberg gets into more detail about the production, the film’s gritty look, and how the film is based on things May had witnessed thanks to her own family. The Brody/Rickey discussion is more of an overview of May’s work up to Mikey and Nicky, going over the common themes, characters, and details that are found between them, though this film is admittedly quite darker than the films before. They also talk about the film’s look, the little details they like about it (Brody pointing how little mistakes left in give it a sort of authenticity) and so forth. Neither feature is particularly in-depth but they offer some wonderful insight into May’s work.

Quite a bit more substantial is a 44-minute audio interview from 1976 with actor Peter Falk, which was conducted with Julian Schlossberg for something called “Movie Talk.” This is a terrific discussion with the actor, who is just very open and forthcoming, talking about his career, the fame that has come with the character of Columbo (and he loves that it brings joy to people) while also talking a bit about his career and Mikey and Nicky. This is a great addition to this release and I’m very happy Criterion came across it.

The disc then closes with a rather grim trailer and then a TV spot that is basically just a shortened version of the trailer. The included insert then includes an essay on the May (and the film to a lesser extent) by writer Nathan Rabin.

I guess I expected a little more on May but the disc still offers a decent introduction for those unfamiliar, while the Falk interview makes it all worthwhile.

6/10

CLOSING

Not the large special edition I would have expected for Elaine May’s introduction to the Collection, but the features are good and the new restoration looks quite extraordinary.


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