One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

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.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a 1975 American comedy-drama film directed by Miloš Forman, based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey, and starring Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, and Will Sampson. The supporting cast features William Redfield, Brad Dourif, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, and Scatman Crothers.

The film was the second to win all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director, and Screenplay) following It Happened One Night in 1934, an accomplishment not repeated until 1991 by The Silence of the Lambs.

Now considered to be one of the greatest films ever made, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is No. 33 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years… 100 Movies list. In 1993, it was deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. Nathan George

About the Story

In 1963 Oregon, Randle Patrick “Mac” McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), a recidivist anti-authoritarian criminal serving a short sentence on a prison farm for the statutory rape of a 15-year-old girl, is transferred to a mental institution for evaluation. Although he does not show any overt signs of mental illness, he hopes to avoid hard labor and serve the rest of his sentence in a more relaxed hospital environment.

McMurphy’s ward is run by steely, unyielding Nurse Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher), a strict authoritarian woman who passive-aggressively employs subtle humiliation, unpleasant medical treatments and a mind-numbing daily routine to suppress the patients and keep them submissive. McMurphy finds that they are actually more fearful of Nurse Ratched and her methods than they are focused on their main goal of eventually becoming functional in the outside world.

In order to help them achieve this (as he believes), McMurphy establishes himself immediately as the leader of his fellow patients. The ward’s other patients include Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif), a nervous, anxiety-prone man with a noticeable stutter; Charlie Cheswick (Sydney Lassick), a man disposed to childish fits of temper; Martini (Danny DeVito), who is delusional; Dale Harding (William Redfield), a high-strung, well-educated paranoid; Max Taber (Christopher Lloyd), who is chronically belligerent and profane; Jim Sefelt (William Duell), an epileptic man; and “Chief” Bromden (Will Sampson), a silent Native American-descended man of very imposing stature who is believed to be both deaf and mute.

Nurse Ratched soon comes to see McMurphy’s newfound presence to be a threat to her authority and total control of the ward’s patients, McMurphy’s and Ratched’s battle of wills escalates rapidly. When McMurphy begins hosting card games and wins away the patients’ cigarettes, Nurse Ratched confiscates them and then begins to ration them out. Further challenging her authority, McMurphy calls for votes on such matters as policy changes or being able to watch the World Series. He also boasts to his fellow patients by betting that he can escape the facility simply by lifting an old hydrotherapy console (a massive marble plumbing fixture) from the floor and heaving it through the window, but fails to do so.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest Movie Poster (1975)

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Directed by: Miloš Forman
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco, Alonzo Brown, Scatman Crothers, Danny DeVito
Screenplay by: Lawrence Hauben, Bo Goldman
Based on: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey
Music by: Jack Nitzsche
Cinematography by: Haskell Wexler
Film Editing by: Richard Chew[, Sheldon Kahn, Lynzee Klingman
Distributed by: United Artists
Release Date: November 19, 1975