One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Reviews
Randall Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is a convict who fakes insanity to escape the confines of prison and instead, spend his remaining years of incarceration in a mental hospital. McMurphy gets more than he bargain for though, when he comes across the tyrannical Head Nurse (Louise Fletcher). Rebelling against her control over the vulnerable patients, McMurphy turns the hospital ward upside-down with his wildly infectious and challenging personality, which incurs the wrath of the embittered Nurse.
Now widely considered a classic of American cinema, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" was not without it's problems in making it to the screen. The film rights to Kesey's novel were actually owned by Kirk Douglas who starred in the 1963 Broadway production. However, there wasn't a major studio that was interested in financing it. Douglas' intention was to reprise the leading role but the film took so long to get off the ground, that it left him too old to play the part.
Before passing the rights down to his son, Michael Douglas, he recruited Czechoslovakia's Milos Forman as a suitable director and even had a screenplay drafted up by Ken Kesey himself. It was Forman who rejected this version, though, as Kesey wanted to retain the mute, Native American, Chief Bromden as the narrator of the story (as it was in the novel) while Forman's intention was to focus on McMurphy. This proved to be only the beginning of the films problems; Kesey was so incensed with the filmmakers approach to his material that he sued the producers and vowed never to watch the completed film while numerous actresses including; Audrey Hepburn, Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft and Faye Dunaway turned down the, supposedly coveted, role of Nurse Ratched. Nicholson wasn't even the first choice for McMurphy either; Marlon Brando and (Kesey's proffered choice) Gene Hackman turned down the part while Forman had his heart set on Burt Reynolds.
With a sense of irony, it could be said that these fraught production issues actually reflected the fraught and rebellious themes of the material but despite the hiccups, the film opened to widespread critical acclaim and went from a $3 million budget to gross over $100 million and as well as sweeping the board at the Academy Awards, it received a further four nominations.
Nicholson may not have been the first choice but there's no doubt that he was born to play McMurphy. He's an actor that has always produced high quality performances and has even become synonymous with rebellious characters but this is the absolute definitive, The only difference between actor and character is that Nicholsonā(TM)s appearance is nothing like the flame-haired Irishman described in the book (where it's easy to see why Kesey might prefer Hackman) but heā(TM)s McMurphy in every other hazardous and feral way. He's the perfect embodiment of the character's reactionary behaviour against the repressive and authoritarian figurehead of Louise Fletcher's villainous and castrating Nurse Ratched. Although it's these two stupendous performances that anchor the film, the rest of the supporting cast are equally solid - with particular mention going to Brad Dourif and his nominated turn as the stuttering, immature Billy Bibbit. Also not going unnoticed is the haunting score by Jack Nitzsche and the striking cinematography by Haskell Wexler in capturing the stark, enclosed environment that reflects the perceived insanity of the inmates.
Whether observed from the point of view of Chief Bromden or R. P. McMurphy, it doesn't matter, as there's still no denying that it retains the free-spirited theme's of Kesey's novel and the revolutionary and anti-establishment ethos that was rife throughout a generation. A masterful adaptation where Milos Forman and screenwriters Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman put their own stamp on the indicting material without losing any of it's emotive or uplifting power. Simply superb!
What you don't expect from this film is suspense, but to be honest, I was on the edge of my seat. Everything builds up to a certain point; tensions rise as the narrative reaches the end. It's mostly due to McMurphy (Nicholson) going back and forth with Nurse Ratchet (Fletcher). Sometimes the things that happen are funny, sometimes brutal. Each actor plays their role perfectly and it really brings the film to life.
I was surprised at how good this film is. It definitely is better than most of the crap released nowadays, and it should be viewed by everyone.
Nicholson does his best Jack Nicholson here, but the movie wouldn't be the same (or nearly as good) without the supporting characters. Scatman Crothers, Danny DeVito, Louise Fletcher, Christopher Lloyd, Sydney Lassick, and William Redfield all bring the film to life with their individually great performances. From a period where anti-establishment films were at a peak, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest might just be the highlight.
"If he's crazy, what does that make you?"
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a classic, and one of the better films you'll ever see. It's brilliance come mainly from the spectacular performances by all involved. Louise Fletcher and Jack Nicholson's Oscars for their roles in this film speak for themselves, but the supporting cast that is around them are great too. Danny DeVito, Brad Douriff, Christopher Lloyd, and Will Sampson, along with the no names are terrific in their respective roles. This is an extremely powerful film, and one of the more disturbing films you're likely to see. The last 15 minutes or so are troubling to say the least.
McMurphy is sent to a mental hospital because the penitentiary is sick of him and for evaluation, but he know, as do the staff their, that he really isn't crazy. It doesn't take long for his rebellious nature to cause waves with the head nurse. She rules over the patients like a dictator. McMurphy soon gets the other patients to start to rebel right along side him, and obviously that isn't going to make the nurse very happy.
Jack Nicholson's role as McMurphy is widely considered to be the best performance of his career. I myself like his role in The Shining the best, but he's as great as ever here. Whether he's acting like a lunatic screaming at the top of his lungs, telling jokes with the patients, or making wise cracks to the nurse; his performance is no less than amazing. There's a reason he is believed to be one of the better actors ever, and it is because of his performances in movies like this.
Whether or not you'll like this movie really depends on one thing, if you're breathing. If you're alive, there's a really good chance you'll love the movie. I was introduced to it really early in life, before I understood everything that was going on and I even loved it then. This will forever be a timeless classic. A hundred years from now this film will still be in the discussion when talking about the greatest movies ever made.
Nurse Ratched: The best thing we can do is go on with our daily routine.
This is one of those films that can't believe I waited so long to see. From the first frame to the very last, I was completely amazed and taken in by the sheer brilliance of it all. Everything about it is stunning...the acting, direction, writing, emotion, conflict, humor, tragedy, realism, depth. It delivers on every level. It is one of my absolute favorite films of all time! There is so much that can be said about this film, but I will just mention one of the things that I loved, the acting.
The acting in this film is unbelievable. First off, Jack Nicholson delivers what must be the best performance of his career. Astounding in every way! The emotion, depth, and realism he brings to the character is outstanding. He is undoubtably deserving of his Oscar and proves himself worthy to be considered one of the best living actors. Louise Fletcher gives one the most memorable performances in cinema history as Nurse Ratched. At first I wasn't impressed with her performance; I found it emotionless, wooden, and boring. However, as the film progressed, I realized how fitting the performance was to her character. Even by being seemingly calm and emotionless, she still gets into your head. I frequently found myself hating her with a passion, but at the same time she remained entirely human. She, too, deserved her Oscar for her memorable and unique performance. The supporting cast was perfect. The film easily could have sunk in this area, but the 8 or so main patients all delivered a different aspect to the film. I particularly enjoyed Danny DeVito's role.
Jack Nicholson is perfect in this film, no doubt, but the performance that made this film for me...Brad Dourif. He gives a fantastic, unmissible, touching performance. He steals every scene he is in and really makes the film so much more. One of my favorite scenes in the movie, although tragic, is the second to last scene. It was at that time I completely fell in love with the film. He gives a brilliant performance and could have easilty taken home the Oscar that year for best Best Supporting Actor, but he only received the nomination.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is fantastic! I love this masterpiece and I recommend it to everyone.
The movie touches on a lot of themes. Namely............ that insanity or craziness is very relative,and because one person doesnt "fit the mould" of how society thinks they should act, they can become imbalanced, alienated. Insanity can be an obvious chemical imbalance....
Great characterisation here with all the patients and a real insight into hospitals for mental health in that era, especially the use of electric shock treatment.
This should be in the collection of anyone who calls themselves a movie addict.