Willie & Phil

Willie & Phil is a 1980 American comedy-drama film written and directed by Paul Mazursky and starring Michael Ontkean, Margot Kidder, and Ray Sharkey.

Willie & Phil
Directed byPaul Mazursky
Produced byPaul Mazursky
Written byPaul Mazursky
StarringMichael Ontkean
Margot Kidder
Ray Sharkey
Music byClaude Bolling
CinematographySven Nykvist
Edited byDonn Cambern
Distributed by20th Century Fox
Release date
  • August 15, 1980 (1980-08-15)
Running time
115 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$5.5 million[1]
Box office$4,400,000[2]


The film is set in late 1970s New York, amidst the counterculture chic of that era. Willie, a high school English teacher who plays jazz piano, and Phil, a fashion photographer, meet coming out of the Bleecker Street Cinema, where Jules et Jim has just been shown, and become friends. They both fall in love with Jeannette, a girl from Kentucky.


Critical responses

The film was reviewed by Pauline Kael in The New Yorker. "It could be that the theme of Jules et Jim, which preoccupies Mazursky - woman as the source of life and art, and woman as destroyer - is just what he can't handle. The ad for Willie & Phil does bring out the film's latent subject: we see the open mouth of a giant goddess who is holding two men in the palm of her hand. They reach up to her with their offerings - one with a bottle of wine, the other with a bunch of flowers. She may be breathing life into these dwarf suitors or preparing to devour them along with their gifts. Either way, she's a source of awe and terror. All through the picture, Mazursky has been trying to demystify what he experiences as mystifying. This movie is a little monument to screwed-up notions of what women are."[3]


  1. Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p259
  2. "Willie & Phil (1980) - Box Office Mojo". www.boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved June 10, 2018.
  3. Pauline Kael Taking It All In ISBN 0-7145-2841-2
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