311. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Movie: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Release Date: November 19, 1975.

Director: Milos Forman

Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, William Redfield.

Tag Lines: “If he’s crazy, what does that make you?”

Relevance: It’s not surprising that I did not see ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ when it was released in theaters as I was only four years old. Although it was a movie that I heard a lot about growing up through my father. My dad is more of a war and western film kind of guy, but he does venture out into other genres once in awhile. Apparently ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ was one of those movies. It’s a movie he enjoyed and talked about quite a bit, especially Jack Nicholson’s performance. He also referenced “Nurse Ratched” often when talking about my mom taking care of us when we were sick. Other than that, the movie kind of flew under my radar.

It wasn’t until 1990, my freshman year in college, did I actually watch the movie. It was around the same time I watched ‘Amadeus’ (see. 357 Amadeus). It was the same kind of scenario that guided me to this movie, and that was simply reading the play. However, I don’t think I had to read this play for a class, I just chose to read it for leisure. That’s how I roll. After reading it, I knew that the next obvious step was to watch the movie. And that’s exactly what I did.

I really enjoyed the film for many different reasons, but mostly because of the screenplay and its characters. It’s a powerful, edgy story that stays with you long after it ends, thanks in part to the never ending onscreen battle between Nurse Ratched and Randall Patrick McMurphy. Their scenes together are electric and very well played. ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ is often listed as a comedy, but its the dramatic elements that make me a fan and keep me coming back to it every chance I can.

Today’s Thoughts: “I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this.”

Since ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ won the Academy Award for Best Picture, I own the DVD. I have watched the film numerous times since 1990, but it probably has been a few years since I watched in its entirety.

There is no question that this is an excellent movie and has held up quite nicely since its release in 1975. I will be honest and say that I am not the biggest Jack Nicholson fan. To me he just plays the same character over and over again without much difference. With that said, this is the first of four movies that he is a part of on this list and I do really enjoy his performance here.

Louise Fletcher has to be my favorite performance in the film. She is absolutely perfect as Nurse Ratched and deserved all of the accolades she received. The supporting cast is quite memorable as well with many famous faces. Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Will Sampson and Vincent Schiavelli are all great and fun to watch.

Although this is not necessarily a “Kleenex” movie for me, it does have a powerful ending and is quite emotional. It is definitely what I would consider a “classic” movie and one that any student or fan of film and film history should place on their “must watch” list.

Awards: Academy Award for Best Picture (winner), Academy Award for Best Director, Milos Forman (winner), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, Jack Nicholson (winner), Academy Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Louise Fletcher (winner), Academy Award for Best Writing, Screenplay Adapted From Other Material, Lawrence Hauben, Bo Goldman (winner), Academy Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Brad Dourif (nomination), Academy Award for Best Cinematography, Haskell Wexler, Bill Butler (nomination), Academy Award for Best Film Editing, Richard Chew, Lynzee Klingman, Sheldon Kahn (nomination), Academy Award for Best Music, Original Dramatic Score, Jack Nitzsche (nomination), Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama (winner), Golden Globe for Best Director, Milos Forman (winner), Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama, Jack Nicholson (winner), Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama, Louise Fletcher (winner), Golden Globe for Best Acting Debut in Motion Picture – Male, Brad Dourif (winner), Golden Globe for Best Screenplay, Lawrence Hauben, Bo Goldman (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Direction, Milos Forman (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Actor, Jack Nicholson (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Actress, Louise Fletcher (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actor, Brad Dourif (winner), BAFTA Award for Best Film Editing, Richard Chew, Lynzee Klingman, Sheldon Kahn (winner), BAFTA Award for Film Music, Jack Nitzsche (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography, Haskell Wexler, Bill Butler, William A. Fraker (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Screenplay, Lawrence Hauben, Bo Goldman (nomination), BAFTA Award for Best Sound Track, Mary McGlone, Robert R. Rutledge, Veronica Selver, Larry Jost, Mark Berger (nomination), Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures, Milos Forman, Joel Douglas, Irby Smith, William Saint John (winner), Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Picture (winner), National Board of Review Award for Top Ten Films (winner), National Board of Review Award for Best Actor, Jack Nicholson (winner), National Film Registry (1993) (winner), National Society of Film Critics Awards for Best Actor, Jack Nicholson (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor, Jack Nicholson (winner), New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress, Louise Fletcher (nomination), Writers Guild of America Award for Best Drama Adapted from Another Medium, Lawrence Hauben, Bo Godman (winner).

Ways to Watch: YouTube, Vudu, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play, DVD Availability.

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