One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Reviews

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Super Reviewer
July 25, 2016
Jack Nicholson in his grandest form. "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" from 1975 is one of the greatest American films of all time that represented the apex of what was the essence of 1970's cinema. A $4.4 million dollar effort directed by Czech Milos Forman. It's allegorical theme is in the world of an authentic mental hospital during the early-1960's(Oregon State Hospital in Salem,Oregon) a place of rebellion exhibited by a energetic,flamboyant,wise-guy anti-hero against the establishment,institutional authority and status-quo attitudes(personified by the patients' supervisory nurse). Expressing his basic human rights and impulses,the protagonist protests against the heavy-handed rules about watching World Series,and illegally stages both a fishing trip and a drinking party in the ward-leading to his own paralyzing lobotomy. Jack Nicholson's acting persona as the heroic rebel McMurphy,who lives free or dies(through an act of mercy killing),had been earlier been set with his breakthrough performances in "Easy Rider"(1969), and "Five Easy Pieces", not to mention "Chinatown"(1974). The mid-1970's baby-boomers counter culture was ripe for a motion picture dramatizing rebellion and insubordination against oppressive bureaucracy and an insistence upon rights,self-expression,and freedom. The role of the sexually-repressed,domineering Nurse Ratched was turned down by six actresses-among them were Faye Dunaway, Anne Bancroft, Colleen Dewhurst, Geraldine Page, Ellen Burstyn, and Angela Lansbury-until Louise Fletcher accepted casting(in her debut film)only a week before filming began. Several actors including Al Pacino and even James Caan were originally offered the lead role of McMurphy,and Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman were considered as well. The lead role went to Jack Nicholson. The entire film was shot in sequence,except for the fishing scene(which was shot last). Opening on November 19,1975 in only four theaters and expanded into more cities the following week, "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" surprised everyone by becoming enormously profitable-becoming the seventh highest-grossing film of 1975 ranking in on its opening weekend $99,761 and expanding into more cinemas by December 7, 1975 bringing in $87,238 having a domestic total gross of $108 million and bringing in almost $300 million worldwide. The independently produced film also made motion picture history by sweeping the Oscars; it made history in 1975 to become the first film to take all the major awards including Best Picture, Best Director(Milos Forman), Best Actor(Jack Nicholson with his first win after losing the previous year for "Chinatown" in 1974), Best Actress(Louise Fletcher in her first win), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor (Brad Dourif), Best Cinematopgraphy(Bill Butler and Haskell Wexler), It was nominated for Nine Academy Awards in total being victorious in winning five including Best Picture. Jack Nicholson's historic win beat out some strong competition which included Al Pacino(Dog Day Afternoon); Ryan O' Neal(Barry Lyndon), Roy Scheider(Jaws),and Kris Kristofferson(Sailor Who Fell From Grace With The Sea). "Cuckoo's Nest" also beat out some tough competition for Best Picture by Robert Altman's "Nashville", Stanley Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon", Sidney Lumet's "Dog Day Afternoon",and Steven Spielburg's "Jaws"(which went on to break historic boxoffice records by becoming the Number One top grossing picture of 1975). "Cuckoo's Nest" became the second motion picture to win all five major awards following 1934's "It Happened One Night" which was an accomplishment not repeated until 1991's "The Silence of the Lambs"(also won all five major awards but also became the first horror movie in motion picture history to win the Oscar in 1991 for Best Picture). The film is Number 33 on the American Film Institute's list of the 100 Greatest Movies Ever Made,and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. "Cuckoo's Nest" also swept the Golden Globes winning six in all including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay(Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman who also won the Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay based on Ken Kesey's best selling novel is based on Kesey characters that were from real-life psychiatric ward patients at a VA Hospital in Menlo Park California where he once worked during the late-1950's). The novel on which it was based originally was dramatized on Broadway(an adapted play by Dale Wasserman) beginning in 1963 with actor Kirk Douglas starring in the lead role as McMurphy and Gene Wilder as stuttering Billy Bibbit. Kirk Douglas bought the rights to the novel,but couldn't convince film studios to produce(studios from 20th Century-Fox to Universal rejected it before United Artists inquire interest). Many years after its short theatrical run,Douglas transferred the rights to his son, actor/writer/producer Michael Douglas,who co-produced the United Artists film with Saul Zaentz. Michael Douglas had considered playing the starring role,but by the time of the film's production, he judged himself too old. Interesting points about this film.....the movie was a stepping stone for up and coming actors who would carve there own careers in Hollywood with the debut of actors Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd in supporting roles. Even after some 41 years later the film is a prime and brilliant example of a society that will not bow down to authority and will take any chances necessary to stand his own ground in an institution that refuses to stand for what is right....This was the example of great 1970's cinema.
July 11, 2016
Jack Nicholson plays a free-spirited nutcase in what I believe is his greatest performance ever. As Randle McMurphy, Nicholson creates a gripping and emotional setting, allowing the audience to truly connect with the vast majority of characters in this weirdly funny drama. A gripping story, exceptional acting and a wonderful cast is what makes One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest such a phenomenal film. Over 30 years since its initial release in theatres and still One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest delivers without flaw.

July 8, 2016
This movie makes living in a mental asylum almost seem fun until about the ending. Great movie and Milos Forman is slowly becoming one of my favorite directors.
½ July 8, 2016
top movie. A constant in my top five.
½ June 28, 2016
A 1975 Best Picture winner that easily holds up today, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest perfectly blends comedy and drama using a wonderful pace and smart script. Led by Jack Nicholson's iconic and charismatic performance, and director Milos Forman's excellently crafted old school style, it intrigues early and often. Randle P. McMurphy (Nicholson) avoids continuing his brief prison stint by pretending to be mentally ill. As he forms bonds with the patients, a rivalry ensues between him and nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). The chemistry of good vs. bad goes back and forth in an onscreen battle that led to Oscar worthy performances. As one of the best films of all time, it has won all five major Oscar categories (Best Picture, Best Screenplay, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Actress) However, it's Nicholson's acting excellence and infectious onscreen presence that will stay with you. A
June 26, 2016
Right, well much of it was a very uncomfortable watch, especially when you've spent as many hours on mental health wards as I have ; but I can't give it more than 7/10 because it was so unnecessarily slow and flabby, and without any real purpose. Some good performances, and it was fun spotting people who have become much more famous since. Not worth a second watch.
June 25, 2016
Jack Nicholson's fun performance makes ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST all the more powerful in its darkest moments, allowing its themes to resonate.
June 20, 2016
Would have got five if it weren't for the dated sexist portrayal of the two prostitutes.
½ June 15, 2016
A petty criminal must be evaluated by psychiatrists and is sent to a mental hospital in this strongly performed drama that does well in the first half, grabbing the viewers attention. However, the second half is bogged down with melodrama and an elaborate escape attempt. Is it a classic? Yes. Will it be watched by future generations? Probably not.
June 1, 2016
The film offers great and perfectly written and acted moments that almost justify the movies intention to drag on with its realistic but often tiring aproach to its story and to its interesting and varied characters.
June 1, 2016
"One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" won five Oscar's for a reason: it's almost completely flawless. Milos Forman's direction brings incredible life to this novel that sets such a classic 1970s feel that not only analyzes its characters so well, but also addresses the cultural and politics of the time and yet, it remains timeless.

That being said, the greatest asset to this film is its star Jack Nicholson. From quiet to angry to homicidal, the man can play any emotion in the snap of a finger as his incredible talent is on full display here. His dynamic relationship with Louise Fletcher is very engaging and the rest of the supporting cast (including Danny DeVito) is also incredibly spot-on.
½ May 23, 2016
Winner of 5 Oscars including Best Picture 1975! Love love love this. Jack Nicholson (McMurphy) fakes being insane to get out of work detail in jail. Film follows his time at a mental institute. I seriously love the interactions between him & the other patients. Louise Fletcher who plays Nurse Ratched was excellent here as well, using terror tactics to get the results she would want from patients. She & frankly everyone who works there knows McMurphy is faking. A sort of tension builds between Ratched & McMurphy. At first I didn't care for Fletcher's performance, I couldn't understand why she won Best Actress. But as the movie progressed it all made sense. Her performance was really fitting. I truly hated her lol. Her performance held her own against Nicholson & it was great to watch this sort of power struggle between them. The story is my favorite part. Yes it does get slow at times but I still enjoy this. With each watching I am always amazed with the dialog matched with amazing performances from a huge cast. Each actor making their character seem more as humans than just crazy. At times this movie is funny, depressing, real & heartwarming. The ending, OMG so heartbreaking, powerful! Left me breathless. Love it! Didn't know it was based on a book. Would like to read some day. This movie is a must own for me.
May 22, 2016
Doesn't compare favorably to the book. MacMurphy, Harding, and Billy Bibbit are fantastic, but Nurse Ratched and the black boys are disappointingly straight-laced.
May 20, 2016
Jack Nicholson is arguably one of the greatest American actors ever. I don't care what top ten list you go Nicholson is up there. Chinatown, Carnal Knowledge, Reds, Batman, As Good as it Gets, A few Good men, Terms of Endearment, About Schmidt, The Departed this man has got so many classic films and so many classic performances. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest is another one. Nicholson plays such an open and inspiring individual in the nuttiest place a man could be. One flew over the cuckoo's nest is also in general a classic film with a relatable theme in here and other fantastic performances. This film was truly deserving of the best picture Oscar at the 76 ceremony.
Criminal Randall McMurphy gets sent over to a mental institution after being charged with rape on a 15 year old girl. McMurphy shows no real signs of mental issues but remains at the place. there he comes across several unique mentally challenged individuals. However they are all verbally oppressed by Nurse Ratched a woman who hits upon the shameful things these men have done in their past. Going against her and the system McMurphy goes around showing the men all kinds of fun and that there is a world out there that they need to take advantage of and not let a mean old woman keep you down. As the story goes on the battle between ratched and McMurphy escalates and leads to some terrible results.
Jack is hilarious here. this is probably the most obvious look of an actor having fun with a role I've ever seen. Jack did a wonderful job here as McMurphy. He plays that one universal guy who not only does what he feels but stands up to the bully. one of the most free spirited characters Jack has ever played. louise fletcher plays something of a silent bully if you will. She doesn't outwardly and arrogantly reign supreme over the guys but she uses subtle bits of humiliation and oppression to keep the guys in check. She also gives off great presence, one that would scare even the toughest of men. Fletcher does a terrific job as this and her demeanor is so cold and convincing as well. brad dourif also does a terrific job here. very deserving of the the golden globe he won in 1976.
This film had excellent directing from Milos Forman. As I have alluded to he creates a universal situation in a place where its hard to get your voice heard because of already pre determined judgments. This film also shows true brotherhood and solidarity among such unique men. Fascinating dialogue written in this script. nicely edited. That electroshock therapy looked brutal. that and a few other moments make the film really intense. sad ending too.
Overall this film is phenomenal and worth watching anytime its on yo television.
May 13, 2016
A beautiful classic with top-notch performances
½ May 1, 2016
A brilliant but often muddled film that never retains a specific focus, and suffers from it. But none can argue with its fantastic script and performances, making this an indisputable classic.
½ April 30, 2016
Amazing. Old films are quiet, move slowly, but the whole thing is a gradual buildup to silent shock. It's great.
April 28, 2016
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a 1975 American comedy-drama, directed by Milos Forman, and is based on a novel written by Ken Kesey in 1962. It focuses on models of oppression and tyranny being a threat to freedom and the importance of the individual. The film is very conscious of what it is trying to achieve and Forman uses many interesting cinematic techniques to portray the themes, primarily the use of camera angles. It brilliantly portrays the 'other', hidden side of human nature and allows the audience to either emphasise with the struggles of the characters or to gain a better understanding of what patients in mental health facilities face. It's main goal was to reflect on current society's role in systematic oppression of the mentally ill in institutions and society in general.
The story revolves around Randle McMurphy, an anti-authoritarian criminal who had been sent to a prison for statutory rape, but instead gets himself moved to a psychiatric institution for evaluation by pretending to be insane as he believes he can avoid hard labour this way. He meets other patients, ranging from the stuttering Billy Bibbit, to an apparently deaf and mute Native American, 'Chief' Bromden and quickly establishes himself as the leader. He immediately clashes with Nurse Ratched, the inflexible nurse who is unpleasantly emasculating and domineering and runs the ward in a totalitarian manner and uses unpleasant methods to keep control of her domain. McMurphy undermines her power, whilst at the same time, encouraging the patients that they are 'not nuts', to the point where they too recognise Ratched's authoritarian rule and begin to resist. By the end, McMurphy's hijinks cause him to be taken in for a lobotomy - meaning he is effectively dead. Bromden smothers McMurphy with a pillow and carries out the original escape plan, and in doing so, keeps McMurphy's spirit alive.
One reason this movie is so intriguing is because it emphasises the depressing reality of environments such as mental institutions. It is easy for cinema nowadays to have a brave hero that fights the system and emerges victorious, whilst encouraging other people along the way, but it is far harder to witness the way that real people behave in such environments. However, this film is more about the forced conformity of individuals in an oppressive system. This is shown primarily in the contrasting characters of Nurse Ratched and McMurphy. Ratched is the embodiment of an obstacle to personal freedom; she threatens the patients' physical and mental freedom to facilitate authoritativeness. Her use in the film is to define the borders of power, so McMurphy can be the reflection. The institutions categorise patients to be able to treat them, but it quickly becomes clear that the system is used for control and punishment, especially the group meetings. Ratched uses the group meetings to constantly force the patients to confront their problems and pits the men against each other. The regular enforced schedule means that Ratched has complete control over everyone and this means their individuality has been removed. Ratched's stiff, immobile facial expressions are the total opposite of McMurphy, who from the very beginning breathes life into the dreariness of the institute. He honours the sacredness of individuals, such as by talking to Chief even though he is supposedly deaf and mute. Although he is portrayed as morally ambiguous, he is willing to do all to give the confined men a chance at freedom. By encouraging Billy to have his first sexual encounter, he knowingly sacrifices his own freedom and ultimately pays the price for that.
The film is shot in such a way that the faces of the characters, and therefore their emotions, are highly accentuated, this creates a realistic effect for the audience as they can clearly visualise the consequence of the events. It also creates tension in the scenes as the camera focuses on eyes and mouths; this accentuates the humanity of the characters. Forman uses a real mental facility and natural lighting to show to the audience that the characters are not that different from themselves. He continuously juxtaposes this with shots of signifiers of containments, such as bars and locked doors, which both stresses the captive nature of the inhabitants and doesn't let the audience forget the truth of what is being shown. The choppy, moving style of the camera allows for multiple views of each scene, and doesn't bias the viewer to a particular character. The camera angles also create a claustrophobic feel with the images of monotonous, pristine white walls and tiled floors, where the patients almost blend into their surroundings is very drab and symbolises the mental state of the patients and the compassionless system they are held in. In the group therapy scenes, Formen increases the tension as the camera moves from face to face, and shows different perspectives to Ratched's painfully pointed questions. Contrastingly, when the camera lingers on a character's face, like when McMurphy sits by an open window after he sends Billy to Candy, highlights important moments. In that scene, McMurphy has realised that in allowing Billy to experience freedom, he is sacrificing his own freedom. The open window being a direct symbol of his almost freedom, and the camera remains on his face as he closes his eyes as a sign of his acceptance.
The film has a rather basic approach to the portrayal of mental illness, presenting it as a choice that can easily be 'fixed' by sheer willpower. One of the problematic scenes in the film is when McMurphy takes the other patients on a fishing trip on a stolen boat. He then, in a twist of irony, introduces them as doctors when questioned. But at this point, the camera zooming into each face shows their true confusion, their blind trust in McMurphy has forced them into an unknown situation - which McMurphy clearly did not consider. They clearly don't understand fully what is happening to them and they don't belong there - but their expressions can easily be misinterpreted with the context given by McMurphy. This is also indicative of our own society which parades the mentally ill around and uses them for their own gain, while ignoring their needs. It is also unfair to the audience because the characters have come to be understood in the context of the hospital ward, so to break the careful characterisation for an idealised, fantastical action scene, is a real injustice to the movie and to message that it is trying to represent.
The audience realises that although Ratched does not believe that McMurphy is insane, she must act like it to be able to exert control over him .The irrationality of the system is compounded when the audience realises that only a sane man can, and would, question the authenticity of such a broken system, but the very act of questioning causes his own sanity to called into question. This seems to defeat the purpose of a system that is meant to be curing people, to the point where it seems insane in itself. The humanising nature of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest brings attention to the failings of our own institutes and the very real problem of forced conformity. This audience awareness allows for a possibility of change in the future to better our clearly broken establishments so that we may too avoid this extent of systemic oppression.
April 27, 2016
Masterpiece, visited the set and the atmosphere is still there.
April 20, 2016
Se veia venir lo que iba a pasar. Lo mejor de la pelicula: los actores.
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