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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

R | | Drama | 19 November 1975 (USA)
A criminal pleads insanity after getting into trouble again and once in the mental institution rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #16 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 30 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Dean R. Brooks ...
Alonzo Brown ...
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William Duell ...
Josip Elic ...
Lan Fendors ...
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Nathan George ...
Ken Kenny ...
Mel Lambert ...
Harbor Master
...
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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. Written by Jacob Oberfrank

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

If he's crazy, what does that make you?

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 November 1975 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,400,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$112,000,000 (USA)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Kirk Douglas starred in the 1963 Broadway production after buying the film rights prior to publication; he later passed the film rights to his son Michael Douglas, but kept a percentage of the profits. Every major studio had declined to make the film during the period he was trying to star in it. Kirk had met Milos Forman in Prague while on a State Department tour and promised to send him the book after deciding he would be a good director for the film; the book never arrived, probably confiscated by censors of the Czech government, which was Communist at the time. Ken Kesey wrote a screenplay for the production, but Forman rejected it because Kesey insisted on keeping Chief Bromden's first-person narration. See more »

Goofs

During the basketball game, McMurphy runs to the edge of the court, the camera follows and, for a moment, reveals an assortment of film production equipment including lighting stands, C-stands, lighting gels and even a crew member. Only visible in the wide screen version. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Attendant Warren: Good morning, Miss Ratched.
Nurse Ratched: Good morning.
Attendant Washington: Good morning, Miss Ratched.
Nurse Ratched: Mr. Washington.
Miller: Morning.
Nurse Ratched: Good morning.
Nurse Pilbow: Good morning, Miss Ratched.
Nurse Ratched: Good morning.
Attendant Washington: Morning, Bancini.
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

The cast is credited in alphabetical order in the end credits, except for Brad Dourif, who is listed last as follows: "and introducing / Brad Dourif as Billy Bibbit". See more »

Connections

Referenced in Inspector Lewis: Beyond Good and Evil: Part 1 (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

Jingle Bells
(1857) (uncredited)
Written by James Pierpont
Played on a record
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Both uplifting and disheartening, sometimes both at once
14 January 2005 | by (Ontario, Canada) – See all my reviews

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


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