I'm embarrassed to say that before today I did not recognize Mike Nichols by name. All my film fanatic friends are gasping right about now, I'm sure! He came to my attention, sadly, because he has passed away suddenly at the age of 83.
Nichols is the husband of news icon Diane Sawyer and an entertainment industry legend. He leaves behind an incredible ouvre that I am so pleased to have enjoyed - including fantastic theater productions and these wonderful movies:
* The Graduate - A classic which earned him an Oscar and keeps movie audiences riveted even after generations, starring Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman and Katharine Ross. And "Mrs. Robinson," of course - what a musical legacy.
* Catch-22 - a great film from the widely-recommended anti-war novel by Joseph Heller. An amazing cast, too! Alan Arkin, Bob Balaban, Martin Balsam, Richard Benjamin, Italian actress Olimpia Carlisi, French comedian Marcel Dalio, Art Garfunkel, Jack Gilford, Charles Grodin, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins, Paula Prentiss, Martin Sheen, Jon Voight, and Orson Welles.
* Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf? - another cross-generational black comedy classic starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton. It was nominated for the Academy Awards in 13 CATEGORIES! Actually, it apparently is only one of two movies ever nominated in every eligible category. It won five.
* Carnal Knowledge - a film that was pretty racy and transgressive for its time, starring another great cast! Jack Nicholson, Art Garfunkel, Ann-Margret and Candice Bergen.
* Working Girl - a hit movie portraying the corporate rat-race, starring Melanie Griffith, Sigourney Weaver, Harrison Ford and Joan Cusack - also nominated for several Academy Awards.
* The Birdcage - I haven't seen this comedy yet, but it is a remake of the French "La Cage aux Folles." The remake stars Robin Williams, Gene Hackman, Nathan Lane, and Dianne Wiest. And get this - Calista Flockhart and Hank Azaria have supporting roles! I can't wait to watch it...
* Closer - I really liked this movie, as uncomfortable as it was to watch! I didn't know that it was adapted from a play - though I did know about that it is a kind of version of Mozart's Cosi fan tutte. This movie stars Julia Roberts, Jude Law, Natalie Portman and Clive Owen. Also nominated for many awards.
Wow! What a wonderful career! I'm very grateful for the contributions Mike Nichols made to the film industry and the delight he has brought to our lives over the years. Writing about his movies makes me want to have a Nichols marathon of the movies on the list above! Do you have a favorite among them? What do you like about them?
-- I've also included a link to an interview with Nichols about his revival of "Death of a Salesman" (Nichols also has several Tony Awards).