One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest


One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Critics Consensus

The onscreen battle between Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher serves as a personal microcosm of the culture wars of the 1970s -- and testament to the director's vision that the film retains its power more than three decades later.



Total Count: 71


Audience Score

User Ratings: 279,396
User image

Watch it now

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Photos

Movie Info

With an insane asylum standing in for everyday society, Milos Forman's 1975 film adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel is a comically sharp indictment of the Establishment urge to conform. Playing crazy to avoid prison work detail, manic free spirit Randle P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is sent to the state mental hospital for evaluation. There he encounters a motley crew of mostly voluntary inmates, including cowed mama's boy Billy (Brad Dourif) and silent Native American Chief Bromden (Will Sampson), presided over by the icy Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). Ratched and McMurphy recognize that each is the other's worst enemy: an authority figure who equates sanity with correct behavior, and a misfit who is charismatic enough to dismantle the system simply by living as he pleases. McMurphy proceeds to instigate group insurrections large and small, ranging from a restorative basketball game to an unfettered afternoon boat trip and a tragic after-hours party with hookers and booze. Nurse Ratched, however, has the machinery of power on her side to ensure that McMurphy will not defeat her. Still, McMurphy's message to live free or die is ultimately not lost on one inmate, revealing that escape is still possible even from the most oppressive conditions. ~ Lucia Bozzola, Rovi


Jack Nicholson
as Randle McMurphy
Louise Fletcher
as Nurse Ratched
Will Sampson
as Chief Bromden
Danny DeVito
as Martini
Brad Dourif
as Billy Bibbit
Peter Brocco
as Col. Matterson
Dean R. Brooks
as Dr. John Spivey
William Duell
as Jim Sefelt
Josip Elic
as Bancini
Lan Fendors
as Nurse Itsu
Nathan George
as Washington
Ken Kenny
as Beans Garfield
Mel Lambert
as Harbor Master
Sydney Lassick
as Charlie Cheswick
Kay Lee
as Night Supervisor
Dwight Marfield
as Ellsworth
Ted Markland
as Hap Arlich
Sidney Lassick
as Charlie Cheswick
Phil Roth
as Woolsey
Mimi Sarkisian
as Nurse Pilbow
Vincent Schiavelli
as Frederickson
Tim Welch
as Ruckley
Tom McCall
as News Commentator
View All

News & Interviews for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Critic Reviews for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

All Critics (71) | Top Critics (13) | Fresh (67) | Rotten (4)

  • With One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Forman takes his rightful place as one of our most creative young directors. His casting is inspired, his sense of milieu is assured, and he could probably wring Academy Award performances from a stone.

    Nov 19, 2018 | Full Review…
  • Watching this again, I am less inclined to regard Nurse Ratched as a simple villain, despite her vindictive humiliation of poor, shy Billy, and more like a professional who refuses to be bullied by a bunch of men.

    Apr 13, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • A dark vision of the American psychiatric system which incorporates a tragic seam of comedy.

    Apr 13, 2017 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • Unlike its frontman, this multi-Oscar-winning drama hasn't aged particularly well.

    Apr 10, 2017 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Nicholson explodes on the screen in a performance so flawless in timing and character perception that it should send half the stars in Hollywood back to acting school.

    Feb 23, 2015 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • There's a lot here. But with a classic like Cuckoo's Nest, too much is never enough.

    Sep 9, 2010 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

  • Aug 20, 2017
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is brimming with memorable characters. Films today just don't have that sense of story and character, it's more visual narrative and overacting. There's no overacting here, every performance is understated in their own unique way. Nurse Ratched, played by Louise Fletcher, is cool, calm and collected and yet her mannerisms exude terror. Her authoritative figure and soft spoken voice just adds to this, so much so that the patients in the state mental hospital are petrified of her. Randle McMurphy, played by Jack Nicholson, is just a common criminal who to start with plays along with the other patients. However, upon the realisation that he may not ever get out...he starts to find ways in order to escape. I found his performance captivating and clearly he is great and portraying crazy people, just look at The Shining. He is able to control the smaller scenes with his charisma and own the bigger crazier scenes with his excitable energy. His raucous behaviour puts the other patients at risk of certain procedures such as the controversial electro therapy. What really compelled me was the similarities between the mental patients and the outside world, to which McMurphy says that there is no difference. The screenplay for that scene, well every scene actually, brings life to each character. From the first 30 minutes, every character's personality and state of mind is indicated to us. There are no boring characters, each of them have unique qualities and that is something you don't see in every film. Loved the fishing boat scene, adored Chief's and McMurphy's friendship and appreciated the time and effort spent on character interactions. The way they talk to each other in the therapy sessions just felt natural, and to balance the screen time between them all was just genius. You just don't get films like these anymore.
    Luke A Super Reviewer
  • Mar 26, 2016
    Equal parts uplifting and depressing, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is a darkly humorous look into the flawed psychiatric system of the 1960s - which makes the film even more impressive that it still holds relevance and importance today.
    Matthew M Super Reviewer
  • Aug 04, 2014
    And this doesn't have a 100% rating on RT because...........?
    Liam G Super Reviewer
  • Mar 30, 2014
    One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest rests largely on the shoulders of its leading man, but whenever Nicholson is onscreen the film is infectiously fun; its emotional depth ties in well with the comedic shenanigans.
    Isaac H Super Reviewer

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Quotes

News & Features