One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Year:
1975
Country:
USA
Genre:
Drama
IMDB rating:
8.7
Director:
Milos Forman
Peter Brocco as Col. Matterson
Dean R. Brooks as Dr. Spivey
Alonzo Brown as Miller
Mwako Cumbuka as Warren
Danny DeVito as Martini
William Duell as Jim Sefelt
Josip Elic as Bancini
Lan Fendors as Nurse Itsu
Louise Fletcher as Nurse Ratched
Nathan George as Washington
Ken Kenny as Beans Garfield
Mel Lambert as Harbor Master
Storyline: McMurphy has a criminal past and has once again gotten himself into trouble and is sentenced by the court. To escape labor duties in prison, McMurphy pleads insanity and is sent to a ward for the mentally unstable. Once here, McMurphy both endures and stands witness to the abuse and degradation of the oppressive Nurse Ratched, who gains superiority and power through the flaws of the other inmates. McMurphy and the other inmates band together to make a rebellious stance against the atrocious Nurse.
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Reviews
(In)sane
Excellent drama with some comedy. All the actors are phenomenal in their interpretations, without any flaws! McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) claims insanity to not go to jail and is admitted to a psychiatric hospital. His vivacity and nonconformity spread to the ward's other patients, who are under the supervision of the oppressive and manipulative nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). The conflict of mentalities becomes inevitable, because the nurse does not admit even 'the middle ground' nor a small concession such as letting the patients see a baseball game. As the days pass, the conflict begins to escalate, and in the end, of course, reaches dramatic proportions.

This film can be analyzed by several prisms: literally for what it is, a beautiful and dramatic story very plausible and that could very well happen in reality, demonstrating well that the abuse of power is never beneficial however well intentioned. Looking more deeply, it is also one of the best allegories on the subject 'individual vs system', demonstrating that however noble the individual is in his intentions, mind and soul, always ends up under the yoke of the tyranny of the system. And it is clear that the system (whatever it is) is always run by despots who are often unaware of it (that they are tyrants), an inevitability of any hierarchical structure. A movie for the ages to appreciate and ponder on.
2017-09-04
An Instant Classic
The 1975 instant classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was a blistering and intense comedy-drama that was the first film since 1934's It Happened One Night to sweep the top six major Oscars.

This film, based on a novel and play by Ken Kesey, is the story of one Randle P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), a career criminal who has been given the option of going to jail or going to a mental institution and his swift and immediate battle of wills with the institution's iron- fisted head nurse, Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher), who he challenges at every turn, not to mention his Pied Piper effect on his fellow patients, which doesn't help endear him to Nurse Ratched either.

Kirk Douglas starred in the play on Broadway and his son, Michael Douglas, won an Oscar as one of the producers of this film. Milos Foreman's meticulous direction also won him an Oscar, but it is the electrifying performance by Jack Nicholson that, after four previous nominations, finally nabbed him an Oscar, as he created a truly original character in McMurphy who is a consistent enigma throughout the film, specifically in the sense of whether or not McMurphy is really mentally defective. Nicholson presents a character that allows us to ponder throughout without never being richly entertained for every moment he is on screen. McMurphy induces cheers when he gets overruled to watch the World Series on TV and he pretends to watch the game on TV anyway without turning it on...there is such a joy in watching the other inmates figuring out what he's doing and joining in the game. His final climactic confrontation with Nurse Ratched also will induce cheers.

Louise Fletcher won the Oscar for Outstanding Lead Actress for her bone- chilling performance as Nurse Ratched. Fletcher beautifully underplays this extremely unsympathetic character, never resorting to scenery- chewing histrionics, but never forgetting that Ratched is clearly the villain of this piece. It's sad that Flecther's career did a swift downhill after this film because it's a masterful performance of such subtlety and delicacy. Meryl Streep is the only other actress I can think of who could have pulled this role off.

Brad Dourif was robbed of one of the few Oscars the film didn't win, Best Supporting Actor, for his moving and riveting performance as Billy Bibbit, the soulful, stuttering manchild with mother issues whose hero worship of McMurphy helps him to develop some backbone up to a point. Mention should also be made of the performances of William Redfield, Danney De Vito, Vincent Schiavelli as fellow patients and especially Will Sampson as the quiet giant Chief Bromden, on whom McMurphy has a remarkable effect.

A one of a kind motion picture experience with one of the most beautifully optimistic endings I can recall in a motion picture. 9/10
2015-03-08
Underwhelming...
'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' (1975), based on the novel by Ken Kesey and directed by Milos Forman, centers around R.P McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) a prisoner serving time for the statutory rape of a 15 year old, among other things. In an attempt to escape from the work yards in the penitentiary, McMurphy fakes a mental illness, leading to him being admitted into a mental hospital. There, he befriends many of the other patients in the ward and attempts to break them out of the strict and monotonous routine set by Head Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher).

OK, first of all, it has to be said, I had quite high expectations for this movie. It came highly recommend by both my parents, is number 8 on IMDb's Top 250 list, and won the grand slam at the 1975 Oscars (Best Picture, Director, Actor and Actress). However, I was left extremely disappointed with this film.

While the first 20 minutes seem promising, showcasing Nicholsons immense talent, the film drags for the next hour, trying to convince you to love McMurphy and loathe Nurse Ratchet, unsuccessfully, I will add. Which brings me to my first and largest problem with this film. On the back of my DVD case it states that "…Nurse Ratchet is among the coldly monstrous villains in film history". Based upon that assessment, I expected numerous unnecessary, unethical punishments, and a complete lack of care for her patients. Well I did not receive that, no instead we got a firm, cold, woman that takes charge of her ward, filled with mentally unstable and perhaps dangerous people, with an iron fist, being nothing but a true reflection of the mental health system at the time. That being said, I am not in anyway completely condoning her behavior. She is far too cold to be an effective nurse and her use of manipulation would not be accepted in today's society. However to asses her as being the one of most wicked, evil, heartless is completely and utter over exaggeration and unfortunately paints the film in a 'State vs Rebel' way.

Which leads also to my other major problem with this film. McMurphy, is not likable. At least not to me. He is an arrogant, self-centered 'rebel', who has made the rather laughable decision to get himself committed to this mental hospital as he is tired of the prison work yard. But no, we are supposed to cheer him on in his attempts to rid the ward of rules and boundaries, in other words, 'fight the system'. Perhaps it was 'in' to rebel against the state in the 70's? To me this film reeked of this ideology, spoiling much of it.

There are certainly positives to 'One Flew Over…' and I can understand on one level why is rated so highly by many critics and audiences. It is well directed, the acting by the two leads, regardless of my objection of the use of their characters, is extremely well done but I do not believe it to be Nicholsons best work, as many praise it to be. There are genuine funny moments to be had and a certain scene revolving around cigarettes is the perfect example of acting at its best. The last 20 minutes is also very well executed and left me somewhat vindicated.

Overall however, the particular framing of the 2 leads left me simply annoyed with this film and as such, I was left underwhelmed.
2011-06-26
Heavy Handed
I found this film to be quite heavy-handed. Even Jack Nicholson's edgy free spirit routine didn't convince me much.

The portrayal of Nurse Ratched in particular is extremely disappointing; giving the character some depth, any glimmering of conscience or conflicted motive, might have redeemed the film. As it is she's little better than an extremely well-performed Disney villain, malevolent and rigid to the end. I can check out The Little Mermaid if I want that.

If you want to feel oppressed by inherently corrupt authority figures, here's your movie. If you expected something that presents you with a moral dilemma, you'll come away disappointed. In particular, anyone who's read the book will have the sensation that it's been stomped flat in the process of being adapted for the screen.
2000-03-27
"What an excellent movie" is all that went through my mind after seeing this masterpiece
What a movie, what an excellent movie!!! That is what first went through my mind after seeing this masterpiece. I've seen many movies, but there aren't much movies which had such an impact on me. Nowadays almost all filmmakers believe they can only make a good movie by adding loads of special effects and lots of huge explosions ... This movie is so good, so convincing without them. The actors played their roles in such a convincing way that you would think these weren't actors at all, but real psychiatric patients.

This movie may be 30 years old, but it hasn't lost any of its relevancy. OK, we don't put our mentally ill people in that kind of prisons anymore, the bars in front of the windows have gone and now we call it hospitals in stead of nut houses. But the treatment hasn't changed all that much. I once worked in such a hospital as a volunteer and still saw things like forced feeding, giving people so much medication until they no longer know who or where they are,...

When the movie first came out, some people were shocked because when you watch the movie, you can't help it feeling more attached to the patients than to the doctors and nurses. This movie shows that cinema can make a difference. It can help to open people's eyes. If there is a movie that should be seen by everyone, this sure is the one. I give it a well deserved 10/10.
2004-09-14
Amazing and Unforgettable
Would you go to a mental hospital to avoid a prison sentence? One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a story of patients in a mental hospital and how their life was changed by R.P. McMurphy. McMurphy, played by Jack Nicholson, arrived in the ward to avoid going to prison or working on a work farm and he made an impact. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a memorable story that goes down in history as one of the best. Let's start with the characters. Nicholson plays R.P. McMurphy, a criminal who has history of violence and aggression. He was sent to the asylum after acting erratic on the work farms. He isn't really mentally insane, but he fakes it to avoid going to prison. He thinks he can serve his sentence in the asylum and life will be easy. In the asylum we have Billy Bibbit, a nervous stuttering man with depression and anxiety. Cheswick is a nervous man who also struggles with anxiety. The actor who portrays him did a great job in playing the part. Danny Devito, yes little Danny Devito before he really went nuts, plays Martini, a lovable character. Then there's the Chief. Chief is a 6'5" mute who everyone thinks is dumb as a rock. He turns out to be one of the most important and influential characters. McMurphy originally goes into the ward to avoid prison but he eventually helps the patients in there. He thinks some of them could survive in the real world and he ends up giving the other patients confidence and a type of therapy. Billy eventually stops stuttering for a little bit. Harding has more self control and Cheswick learns to stick up for what he believes in. An example of McMurphy's "therapy" is the fishing trip. McMurphy climbs over the fence and steals a bus with the patients from his ward. He takes them to a fishing boat and takes them fishing. McMurphy had his own agenda but he also helps the patients. He gives them an experience a normal man would have and they have fun. One of the best aspects of this movie is the accuracy to the time period. Men with mental illnesses were put in asylums like the one we see in the film. They experienced the different types of therapy. They took drugs such as anti-depressants, anti-psychotics, and anti- depressants. Any means to help them relax and make them acceptable for society. They experienced group therapy, which we see often throughout, and something I've never seen before in hydrotherapy. Unfortunately, during this time period there were a lot of problems. If people were overly aggressive or considered dangerous they would undergo electroshock therapy. Basically, doctors tie you down and put conducting gel on your temples and a rubber mouth guard in your mouth so you don't bite your tongue. Then they literally send a shock through your temples into your brain. The idea was to reset the brain and make you more relaxed and in control. The audience witness's electroshock therapy in the film and it is a little disturbing to watch. You can see the suffering on their faces. Finally there is the lobotomy, where doctors drill into the skull or go through the nose to scrape out a piece of your brain. This turns a man into a vegetable who can barely survive on their own. It is illegal today but back then it was common. Character relationships are important for a successful movie and not many compare to the relationship McMurphy had with the vile Nurse Ratched. Nurse Ratched was the head nurse in the ward. She controlled the groups and she was in charge. Her character is difficult because I couldn't ever really tell what her intentions were. Sometimes she tried hard to help the patients and other times she acted like she wanted to make them worse. A prime example is the one therapy group when Cheswick wants his cigarettes and Nurse Ratched just ignores him. Cheswick grows a backbone and stands up for himself and Ratched tries to put him back in his place and treat him like a dog. That scene really changes the movie and the major events of the movie unfold from there. McMurphy and Ratched would clash all the time. McMurphy would get under her skin and she under his. It made the movie really entertaining and a little comedic at times. Now no movie is perfect and I did have a few problems with it. Mainly it was the ending. It was a fine ending but I feel like it was a little too drastic. I don't want to give it away but it was one of those moments where you smack your forehead and go, "you idiot." When you see the movie you will know what I mean. Also what happens to one of the patients is completely unnecessary. I understand he was upset but he didn't have to do what he did. It was a little ridiculous and I can't see it really happening. Overall, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is a great movie with excellent characters, a well written script, an interesting, and entertaining storyline. It deserves all the credit it got and will go down as a career making movie for Jack Nicholson. He did a fantastic job and deserved the Oscar he won. This is not what I would call a "background movie." Meaning, it is not something you can watch casually. You need to sit down and watch it and pay full attention. That's my advice and without a shadow of a doubt, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's nest gets the WillyT Seal of Approval and is something I can watch again and again and enjoy every time.
2012-11-28
One of the greatest movies and life lessons of all time
Not many movies have won the "big five" in the academy awards. It's enough to win just best picture for a lot of movies. This movie portrays every film element to the highest degree, from the beautiful panoramic shots of the mountains outside of the mental institution to the story of ultimate redemption McMurphy and Chief find at the end.

The movie is seen through the eyes of Randle McMurphy (Nicholson). He is sent to the mental institution because he would rather be considered "insane" and live in "luxury" other than being a jailbird in prison. Once he gets into the actual living area where the insane are, he looks up at this tall, native looking man they call "Chief". McMurphy's initial reaction to Chief was his little Indian dance he did to mock him, but once Chief didn't react McMurphy asked him if he played football and says to chief, "God damn, boy, you're as big as a mountain." Little by little, you could see their friendship start to unfold out throughout the movie.

In One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the title "villain" would definitely belong to Nurse Ratched. She gave threats to the patients, she was even friends with one of the patient's (Billy) mom. She also tries to toy with McMurphy's mind by trying to get him to conform with the customs of mental facility. It doesn't work out for her as planned. Including a classic scene where Nurse Ratched's threats cause little Billy to commit suicide. In rage, McMurphy has seen enough and actually chokes her out. This causes McMurphy to go through a lobotomy and become a vegetable at his stay at the clinic.

I know many people probably disagree with this but, I think Chief killing McMurphy at the end was beautiful as much as it was heartbreaking. It symbolized that McMurphy, still had a chance to redeem himself and become a hero, even if it were death. It also gave Chief clearance to finally "escape" the premises and "fly from the cuckoo's nest", and how he did it at the end was classic. That's what makes this movie one of the greatest of all time, not only because of the sensational acting and the sociological significance, but because of the message and symbolism of the story.

The directing by Milos Foreman was phenomenal, not only with the memorable acting by Jack Nicholson, but with the camera shots he used in certain scenes. For example, the scene before McMurphy was about to get electro-shock therapy they show a very close up angle of him to show the intensity and crowdedness he had to go through while getting the shock treatment. Nicholson also makes it pretty believable that he is actually getting shocked, by making "gurgling" noises and such.

They actually go back to the "lying down" closed angle shot at the end of the movie when Nicholson passes away. I thought it was very brave of the director to keep that long shot of McMurphy's dead self, because by making it last as though it were a still shot, to me it seemed more and more believable that McMurphy was actually dead. I don't know how Nicholson just lied there stiff as a board. I know he may have won his Oscar because of his heroic and charismatic character, but how he dealt with himself in those two scenes is what tickles my fancy.

The ideology of this film is, in my opinion, what makes it one of the greatest of all time. The story brings up the question of who's actually the insane; McMurphy and his patients, or Nurse Ratched and the staff? Clinically, McMurphy was not insane. Even the doctors and professors stated that, but since he didn't follow the norms and the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched, he had to stay at the sanitarium longer. I also loved the allusion of Chief, by acting deaf and dumb. He played the omniscient or "god-like" role of hearing and seeing everything, yet not saying anything himself. It almost seems as he was the narrating the story until he befriended McMurphy.

I don't know if I could think of a more evil villain in a movie other than Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). The evil looks she gave to her patients when they were doing something wrong was as cold-hearted as one could get. Also her audacity to tell Billy's mother about his sexual deviance is as sinister as you can get. She knew that it would hurt Billy deeply, which was a major reason he was "insane" is because of his relationship with his mother. He eventually killed himself, angering McMurphy.

I never thought I would cheer out loud when a grown man was choking out a little woman, but I did here. This scene did a fantastic job of not making it taboo, but making you want her dead even more. This did change Nurse Ratched however, it made her a little nicer to the patients at the end and made her realize that if she abuses her power as a nurse, it can come back to haunt her.

The meaning of this story is wonderful and helped Jack Nicholson set the bar for acting. The symbolism of Chief's and McMurphy's redemption serves as a corner stone for many many movies today. Whether it be the costumes of the patients, the crazy acting, or even the beautiful classic shot at the end of the movie where Chief runs out to freedom; This movie will never be forgotten. And it serves as a good lesson for everyone out there who feels left out can all come together and get freedom. I advise anybody who says they love movies to watch this film, because it will not only change your views, it will change your life and you can't say that about a lot of movies.
2007-09-04
Both uplifting and disheartening, sometimes both at once
I went into this film with the knowledge that it had been the second film in history to win the 'top five' Oscars (for Best Picture, Best actor, Best actress, Best director and best screenplay) and has been praised as "one of Jack Nicholson's finest roles" and "one of the classics of the 70's". Naturally, after hearing all this, I had high expectations for One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest. But nonetheless, I was surprised at how easily the film surpassed my expectations and easily led me to understand how it merited all that praise.

Based on the novel by Ken Kesey, the story follows Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), who, in an attempt to get out of spending more time in prison, pleads insanity for his crime, and is therefore sentenced to time in a mental institution. This was McMurphy's intention, as he believes the conditions in a "crazy house" will be significantly easier to contend with than another harsh stay in prison. However, he quickly finds out that surviving the institution with it's desolate patients (including Christopher Lloyd, Danny DeVito, Vincent Schiavelli and an absolutely brilliant Brad Dourif as the stuttering Billy Bibbit) and the monstrously repressive Nurse Ratchet (Louise Fletcher, in a career defining role) is considerably harder than he imagined. McMurphy plays pranks, horseplay, and is generally defiant to the rules of the institution in an attempt to raise spirits. His constant optimism and reckless defiance to the out of date rules in the institution can be very uplifting, and often quite funny as well, but much of the movie can be very depressing - the generally decrepit state of the institution is a consistently (and intentionally) bleak background to a superb story with a truly bittersweet ending.

Jack Nicholson is at his best here, head and shoulders above other excellent performances such as in 'Chinatown' or 'As Good as it Gets'. McMurphy is an apparently unquenchable optimist, refusing to succumb to the defeated spirit of all the other patients. His livewire antics, inspiring the patients are generally uplifting, and when his indomitable spirit is finally broken, we really feel for him and his fellow patients. Nicholson conveys the essence of McMurphy to perfection, demonstrating his excellent understanding and interpretation of the character. When McMurphy announces that he is going to lift a huge stone fountain and hurl it through the window to escape, the other patients are so caught up in his intoxicating spirit of freedom that they honestly believe he can do it, despite the fact it would be impossible for a man much stronger than him. When McMurphy finally discovers that despite his best efforts, he cannot lift the fountain, he is so openly crushed that we can't help but feel for him. Beneath the frequent profanities and livewire antics, there are real human emotions, which come across as truly touching.

What can be said about One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest which hasn't already been said? It has an excellent storyline, top notch acting, painfully bleak visuals, perfectly setting the tone for the movie, and alternates between being truly uplifting to devastatingly depressing. It features perhaps the most memorable film ending ever, next to a man on his horse riding off into the sunset, and leaves the viewer beaten down by the conflicting emotions, unaware what to think of the picture next to reveling in it's glorious entirety. It's hard to produce a final outcome any better than this.

-10/10
2005-01-14
Way over-rated
I wanted to like and appreciate this film, considering it's ratings and awards but found it to be vastly over-rated. Significant story inconsistencies and a good deal of ill-logic as to what the patients/inmates are able to get away with - all to further the story, but it's forced and comes across as not credible. Didn't they have alarms on windows and doors in the 60s at such institutions? The Nicholson character being able to get over barbed wire with no injuries - not reasonable. Seems likely. Well over the top performances, especially by Jack N; not unusual. Why he got so much acclaim for overacting is hard for me to figure. Some of his roles are excellently done, but many, like this one, are just him showing off - in my opinion. In summary, an overlong, often dull and obvious story.
2010-05-19
An all-time classic about the subversion of authority
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is one of the most beloved classics of all-time and features Jack Nicholson as McMurphy, a man who's been ordered by a court to undergo psychiatric evaluation at a mental hospital. McMurphy doesn't show signs of mental illness, but he does have a strong anti-authoritarian impulse, and he establishes himself as a leader among the inmates shortly after his arrival. He's an obvious wild card in an otherwise stable population of patients who are tightly controlled by Nurse Ratched, played to chilling perfection by Louise Fletcher. Ratched employs a host of manipulative suppression techniques to keep the patients under her thumb, and McMurphy becomes her nemesis, attempting to subvert her authority wherever possible. The film, which swept the Academy Awards, on a surface level is about the personal struggle between the ideologies of the two major characters, but it can also be viewed as a metaphor for the culture wars of the 60s and 70s. The film also powerfully illuminates the oppression of the mentally ill under a system incapable of treating them with dignity, as they are stripped of their humanity and kept out of sight from society.
2014-11-13
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