McMurphy has a criminal past and has once again gotten himself into trouble with the law. 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. Written by Jacob Oberfrank
November 21, 1975
Rarely are there movies as well acted as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
Most of the film occurs in the very drab, sterile environment of the psyche ward, brought to life by the many uniquely acted characters. Jack Nicholson is at the top of his game in this movie. Premier Magazine’s list of the 100 best performances lists Jack’s portrayal of Randal P. McMurphy as number #47, but I think that’s way undervaluing it.
This film launched the careers of Danny DeVito and Christopher LLoyd. If you haven’t seen it, watch the episode of Always Sunny in Philadelphia where DeVito reprises his role as Martini. It is hilarious.
Can anyone else name the other film that Jack Nicholson and Scatman Crothers are in together?
AFI’s top 100 Villains posts Louise Fletcher’s, Nurse Ratched as #5. Behind the like of Vader and Lecter. She is one of those characters that you love to hate. Her icy, stone faced crooked authoritarian is just pure evil on a very understated level.
This movie would be almost sacrilegious to recast with as many Oscar Nominations were dealt out for this movie, but here goes. Sam Rockwell would make a more than adiquate McMurphy. Meryl Strep, though I doubt she would ever consider it could do hold a strong candle to Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched. The film as a whole is such a part of our culture, to refer to someone as a Nurse Ratched, or to hear the eerie soundtrack with Indian drums beating in the background.
This film is very much a part of the great culture of great American films, just as much as it was in 1975.
Reviewers note: I did need to watch this movie twice before writing the review. The first time I fell asleep about 90 minutes in (no surprise there). Matt did encourage me (correctly) to watch the entire film in one sitting before writing the review.
Okay movie buffs – don’t hate me. I felt like I was watching Girl, Interrupted. I know the Jolie / Ryder film came later than Cuckoo’s Nest and therefore “borrowed” much of the storyline. Perhaps they just said “let’s make Cuckoo’s but with all women”. That said, I enjoyed both films. You’re not going to walk away with tears of joy, but you will be left with the struggle of defining “crazy”.
Jack Nicholson … what an amazing actor. It seems unnecessary to even write it. He won an Oscar for this role. If you haven’t seen Cuckoo’s put it on top of your list to watch one of the films that promoted Jack to a front row seat at the Oscars whenever he wishes. Danny Devito. I still can’t believe that was him in the movie. If you still need a reason to watch this movie then do it because there is a young Devito with hair on his head.
Bottom line – the acting is outstanding. And the screenplay. It’s clear to see why this is on the AFI list and won 5 Oscars in ’75.
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST TRAILER