Classic Review – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Title – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

Director – Milos Forman (Man On the Moon)

Cast – Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Brad Douriff, Danny DeVito, Will Sampson, Christopher Lloyd

Plot – Troublemaker and criminal R.P McMurphy (Nicholson) is transported to a mental facility run by Nurse Ratched (Fletcher) where he is to be evaluated before his potential return to society. His stay is anything but uneventful as he befriends various inmates and comes to understand the true nature of Nurse Ratched’s plans.

“I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this”

Review by Eddie on 31/03/2021

An ageless Oscar winning classic that has lost none of its power in the years that have followed its release, Milos Forman’s quintessential drama One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is an incredible feat of movie-making that is surely one of the most perfectly molded examples of finding an actor suited to a particular role as Jack Nicholson takes charge as the incarcerated R.P. McMurphy and delivers one of the very best cinematic performances in the process.

Following the hi-jinx and exploits of McMurphy as he finds himself transferred from prison into a hospital facility for the mentally unstable, a facility that is overseen by the dastardly Nurse Ratched (played unforgettably by a steely-eyed Louise Fletcher), Nest is at times heart-warming, at other times heart-wrenching and frequently very funny as Nicholson and his fellow inmates/cast members remain front and centre throughout as McMurphy tries to maintain his unique sensibilities as well as help those around him in very dire situations.

From the moment we are introduced to McMurphy from the films opening scenes right through to the films much talked about finale, Nicholson is a force of nature in Forman’s effort and he commands your attention whether or not his commentating a make believe World Series baseball game or taking himself and his compatriots on an unsanctioned fishing trip, its a tour de force piece of work, an undeniable act of performance power but also not the sole reason Nest has managed to become the revered work it is.

One of histories most underrated directors, Forman’s work behind the camera that captures screenwriters Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman words is equally as on song as Nicholson’s main turn, while the ensemble that was recruited for Nest’s cast is one of the all-time great examples of casting with the likes of early times Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd and Brad Douriff ably supporting Nicholson and Fletcher with help from industry veterans William Redfield, Sydney Lassick and a scene stealing Will Sampson as Chief.

Watching these performers work with one another and off one another is an absolute delight, it doesn’t take long before you’re completely hooked on the journey McMurphy and his fellow patients are on and throughout the film you’ll laugh, cry and feel that rare joy you get from watching such a well put together piece of storytelling that’s humanity and heart is constantly on show from beginning to end.

Final Say – 

There’s a reason why One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest often finds itself near the tops of peoples favourite films list, a resounding success in all areas and a film that features one of the all time great lead performances, Milos Forman’s classic is top-tier stuff.

5 Monopoly pieces out of 5 

7 responses to “Classic Review – One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

  1. Pingback: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975) –·

    • I remember seeing it when I was quite young and just being blown away by Jack’s performance.
      It was great revisiting it, it holds up very well!

  2. One thing I appreciate about a movie adapted from a book is when the final work closely resembles the novel. “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” is one of these. I read the book and saw the movie. I enjoyed them both.
    It’s interesting to note Ken Kesey never saw the movie and was disappointed that it wasn’t narrated, as in the novel, by Chief Bromden. Nevertheless, Forman’s direction made it, in my opinion, a worthy effort. Mental illness in many of its forms was portrayed well, and I think many who saw the film — even though the movie used extreme examples taken directly from the book — got a new perspective of how serious the issue is.

    • I will have to read the book at some stage!
      This has for a long time been one of my favourite films, it holds up amazingly well.

  3. You know you have a winner of a film when people still quote it decades later. Or associate characters, like nurse Ratched, to real-life people, even though that last one isn’t a compliment! This really is one of Jack Nicholson’s best roles.

    • It’s certainly one of the greatest examples of an actor finding the perfect role.
      It’s hard to picture anyone else playing his role.

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