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ReFocus: The Films of Elaine May$
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Alexandra Heller-Nicholas and Dean Brandum

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440189

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440189.001.0001

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Introduction: Who’s Kidding?— Approaching Elaine May

Introduction: Who’s Kidding?— Approaching Elaine May

(p.1) Introduction: Who’s Kidding?— Approaching Elaine May
ReFocus: The Films of Elaine May

Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Edinburgh University Press

While not unknown, the films of Elaine May and the importance of her career have been hidden in plain sight. Beginning her career in stand-up comedy with her long-time collaborator Mike Nichols, while he would go on to win major awards for his directorial work, May’s four features — A New Leaf (1971), The Heartbreak Kid (1972), Mikey and Nicky (1976) and Ishtar (1987) — have until recently spanned from the forgotten to the unobtainable to the maligned. Presenting a fascinating set of challenges for how film history, gender, authorship and other subjects are typically approached, this introduction outlines why May is important, why her work long overdue critical reassessment, and outlines the broader approach of the book ReFocus: The Films of Elaine May.

Keywords:   Elaine May, Women’s Filmmaking, Women Directors, Feminism, Comedy, Screenwriting, A New Leaf (film), The Heartbreak Kid (film), Mikey and Nicky (film), Ishtar (film)

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