Mike Nichols - Rotten Tomatoes

Mike Nichols



A deft humorist and social critic, director Mike Nichols managed to skewer mainstream sensibilities in crowd-pleasing work throughout most of his career. Collaborating with such renowned writers as Buck Henry and original stage partner Elaine May, the theatrically trained Nichols excelled at adapting plays and novels for the screen, and eliciting superb performances from his actors.

Born Michael Peschkowsky in Berlin, Nichols and his family emigrated to the U.S. in 1938, to escape the Nazis. Though his father's death several years later left his family poor, Nichols worked his way through college at the University of Chicago, where he decided to become an actor. After studying with Lee Strasberg in New York, Nichols headed back to Chicago, where he formed an improv group with several actors, including May and Alan Arkin. Their comic and critical sensibilities well matched, Nichols and May performed as a pair in the latter half of the 1950s, earning raves for their sharp, satirical routines. After their 1960 hit Broadway show, An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, closed in 1961, however, they parted ways.

Nichols began to direct plays in 1963, earning a sterling reputation for his work on a string of hits, including the Neil Simon comedies Barefoot in the Park and The Odd Couple. Not surprisingly, Nichols moved to films with an adaptation of a play, Edward Albee's scathing study of marital discord, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Making the most of a screenplay by Ernest Lehman that left Albee's taboo-breaking profanity intact, crisp cinematography by Haskell Wexler, and the casting of glamorous marrieds Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor as the warring couple, Nichols scored a critical and box-office success. The film earned 13 Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, and acting nominations for the lead quartet, and won five. Nichols further staked his claim as one of the premiere avatars of Hollywood's new generation the following year with The Graduate (1967). Wittily adapted by Buck Henry and Calder Willingham, starring an unknown Dustin Hoffman, and directed with New Wave flair by Nichols, The Graduate's mordant portrait of youthful anomie and suburban sexual frustration spoke to late '60s disaffection with the Establishment, and the film became a landmark hit. Though The Graduate lost the Best Picture Oscar to In the Heat of the Night (1967), Nichols won for Best Director. Turning his attention from sex to war, Nichols seemed to be on target for another timely success when he and Henry decided to tackle Joseph Heller's sardonic anti-war bestseller Catch-22 (1970). Though Nichols and Henry managed to translate the book's surreal tone to the screen, and Alan Arkin proved an adept Yossarian, Catch-22 suffered in comparison to Robert Altman's pacifist farce M*A*S*H (1970) and became an expensive failure. Nichols quickly recovered with Jules Feiffer's acrid examination of male sexual gamesmanship, Carnal Knowledge (1971). Remarkable for its frankness (at least for Hollywood) and featuring career performances from Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, Ann-Margret, and Candice Bergen, Carnal Knowledge became Nichols' third groundbreaking hit.

Nichols' film career, however, was comatose by the late '70s. The bizarre yet touching dolphin conspiracy drama The Day of the Dolphin (1973) flopped; not even 1970s supernovas Nicholson and Warren Beatty attracted audiences to the maligned period comedy The Fortune (1975). Except for lensing comedienne Gilda Radner's Broadway show Gilda Live (1980), Nichols stayed away from movies for almost eight years. He made an auspicious return to film, however, with the social drama Silkwood (1983). A biopic about the life and mysterious death of nuclear whistle-blower Karen Silkwood, Silkwood garnered raves for stars Meryl Streep and a de-glamorized Cher, and earned five Oscar nods, including Best Director. Though he didn't win the Oscar, Nichols did

Photos

Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
100% Everything Is Copy
  • Actor
2016
70% Becoming Mike Nichols
  • Actor
2016
66% Friends With Kids
  • Executive Producer
2012
No Score Yet Faces Of America
  • Actor
2010
No Score Yet BreadCrumbs
  • Screenwriter
  • Actor
  • Director
2009
82% Charlie Wilson's War
  • Director
2007
70% POV
  • Actor
2006
68% Closer
  • Director
  • Producer
2004
No Score Yet The Rutles 2---Can't Buy Me Lunch
  • Actor
2004
92% The Kid Stays in the Picture
  • Actor
2002
80% Wit
  • Screenwriter
  • Executive Producer
  • Director
2001
42% What Planet Are You From?
  • Producer
  • Director
2000
80% Primary Colors
  • Director
  • Producer
1998
65% The Designated Mourner
  • Jack
1997
79% The Birdcage
  • Producer
  • Director
1996
60% Wolf
  • Director
1994
97% The Remains of the Day
  • Producer
1993
44% Regarding Henry
  • Director
  • Producer
1991
90% Postcards from the Edge
  • Director
  • Producer
1990
84% Working Girl
  • Director
1988
81% Biloxi Blues
  • Director
1988
47% Heartburn
  • Producer
  • Director
1986
No Score Yet The Longshot
  • Executive Producer
1986
75% Silkwood
  • Producer
  • Director
1983
No Score Yet Gilda Live
  • Director
1980
20% The Fortune
  • Director
  • Producer
1975
43% The Day of the Dolphin
  • Director
1973
89% Carnal Knowledge
  • Producer
  • Director
1971
85% Catch-22
  • Director
1970
89% The Graduate
  • Director
1967
95% Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
  • Director
1966

TV

RATING TITLE CREDIT
89% Angels in America
2003
  • Producer
  • Director
  • Executive Producer
No Score Yet POV
1988
  • Appearing
No Score Yet Ghost Hunters
2004-2016
  • Director
  • Executive Producer
No Score Yet Killer Contact
2013
  • Producer
  • Executive Producer
No Score Yet The View
1997
  • Guest

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