Gifted with crack timing and a caustic wit, Elaine May first came up as an improv comedian in the late fifties, forming the popular satirical tandem of Nichols and May with her college classmate Mike Nichols. By the time May had begun her career behind the camera in the early seventies, the duo had long since dissolved (with her former collaborator starting a filmmaking career of his own), but her flair for making the most of spontaneity had not. In the above excerpt taken from a supplement on our new edition of Mikey and Nicky—May’s brilliantly tetchy tale of an old friendship put under the gun one night in the City of Brotherly Love—critics Richard Brody and Carrie Rickey examine the remarkably live-wire work of Peter Falk, John Cassavetes, and their costars. While Brody highlights the dynamic verbal and physical interplay between Falk and Cassavetes, who had worked together before in Cassavetes’s Husbands and A Woman Under the Influence, Rickey homes in on the film’s colorful supporting players, in the process showing May’s deep appreciation for the craft of acting.
Digging Through Movie History at Chaplin’s Studios
Film scholar Craig Barron gives us a tour of the studios on whose back lot Charlie Chaplin built the set for his final film of the silent era, The Circus.
Career Women in the Land of Lubitsch
Critics Molly Haskell and Farran Smith Nehme talk about the highly idiosyncratic heroines who populate Ernst Lubitsch’s comedies, including the protagonist of his final film, Cluny Brown.
Ritwik Ghatak’s Pursuit of Truth Beyond Realism
Acclaimed Indian filmmakers Saeed Akhtar Mirza and Kumar Shahani discuss how the Bengali master mixed expressionism and naturalism in his devastating domestic tragedy The Cloud-Capped Star.