By now, you've probably heard about the passing of director Mike Nichols, an entertainment legend whose work spanned six decades and every imaginable medium. At the time of his passing, his resume boasted 22 films, 23 theatrical works, 4 comedy albums, and scores of accolades and awards -- and he was still lining up new projects. Basically, today we lost one of the biggest HBICs in the entertainment biz.
But because Nichols made only a few movies after the year 2000 and turned his focus back to the stage during the last few years his life, the millennial generation never got a chance to get to know him as the big freaking deal that he was, and always will be. For the uninitiated, here are some of the greatest, enduring cultural gifts Mike Nichols left us with.
The iconic seduction of "The Graduate"
This scene, shot through Anne Bancroft's leg as it framed her underage prey, spawned a thousand imitators and turned "Mrs. Robinson" into a household name for wanton cougars.
Joan Cusack's hair in "Working Girl"
Nichols' 1988 film about ambitious women on Wall Street was a multiple Academy Award nominee, and it still holds up today. But of all the great things packed into "Working Girl," none was so stratospherically awesome as Joan Cusack's giant 80s coif.
Garry Shandling's humming alien penis in "What Planet Are You From?"
This movie is every bit as ridiculous as the trailer above makes it look, but thanks to Nichols' deft directorial touch, it's a comedic gem that features some of the finest wiener jokes ever to grace the screen. Don't miss Ben Kingsley in a supporting role; before he played The Mandarin in "Iron Man 3," he was the cold and callous overlord of a doomed race of alien men with no genitals.
Natalie Portman's stripper scene in "Closer"
The buzz surrounding Portman's be-thonged butt in this film accounted for fully 90% of all internet traffic in the year 2004. (The other 10% was people searching for qualified therapists to combat the emotional trauma caused by the movie, which is brilliant but brutal.)
Jack Nicholson and James Spader, 1990s yuppie werewolves
Before werewolves took their current pop cultural form of shapeshifting natives with six-pack abs and serious friendzone issues, there was "Wolf": featuring Jack Nicholson and James Spader as snarling wolfmen with a lot of prosthetic facial hair. And yes, it was every bit as magnificent as it sounds.
"The Birdcage" in its entirety
Robin Williams as a middle-aged gay dad, Hank Azaria as a Guatemalan beefcake prettyboy, and Nathan Lane as a "short, fat, insecure, middle-aged THING!" (his words, not ours): There are a million reasons why "The Birdcage" was an instant classic from the moment Williams shimmied downstage chanting "Fosse Fosse Fosse!" And unlike most of Nichols' catalog, it's available to stream on Netflix as of right now.