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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

R | | Drama | 19 November 1975 (USA)
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2:35 | Trailer
A criminal pleads insanity and is admitted to a mental institution, where he rebels against the oppressive nurse and rallies up the scared patients.

Director:

Milos Forman

Writers:

Lawrence Hauben (screenplay), Bo Goldman (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Popularity
368 ( 72)
Top Rated Movies #18 | Won 5 Oscars. Another 30 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Jack Nicholson ... R.P. McMurphy
Louise Fletcher ... Nurse Ratched
Will Sampson ... Chief Bromden
Michael Berryman ... Ellis
Alonzo Brown Alonzo Brown ... Miller
Peter Brocco ... Col. Matterson
Scatman Crothers ... Turkle
Dean R. Brooks Dean R. Brooks ... Dr. Spivey
Mwako Cumbuka ... Warren
Danny DeVito ... Martini
William Duell William Duell ... Sefelt
Josip Elic Josip Elic ... Bancini
Lan Fendors Lan Fendors ... Nurse Itsu
Nathan George ... Washington
Ken Kenny Ken Kenny ... Beans Garfield
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 November 1975 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest See more »

Filming Locations:

Depoe Bay, Oregon, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$3,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$108,981,275

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$108,997,629
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Fantasy Films See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

All of the actors who played patients actually lived in the Oregon State Hospital psychiatric ward throughout production. The men personalized their sleeping quarters, spent their days on campus to "get a sense of what it was to be hospitalized" (as Vincent Schiavelli put it), and interacting with real psychiatric patients. See more »

Goofs

When the doctors bring back Randle McMurphy from his treatment, they walk in, one doctor puts down his doctor bag, they lay Randle down, and as they walk out the doctor bag has disappeared and neither one is carrying it out. 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 Sodankylä Forever: Elokuvan vuosisata (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

Row, Row, Row Your Boat
(uncredited)
Traditional
Sung a cappella by Mews Small
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The spirit of freedom vs. the spirit of legal-ism
21 October 2012 | by WuchakkSee all my reviews

"One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) is a film you'll appreciate more as you mature. I saw it a few times when I was younger and, while I thought it was good, I didn't 'get' a lot of the insights the film conveys. Viewing it again recently, I 'got' it.

Set in the early 60s, the story involves R.P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) and his arrival at a mental institution in Salem, Oregon (where the film was shot). He plays the "mental illness" card to get out of prison time, thinking it'll be a piece of cake, but he's wrong, very wrong. Everything appears well at the hospital and Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher) seems to be a benevolent overseer of McMurphy's ward, but there are sinister things going on beneath the surface.

The movie criticizes the way institutions deal with mental illnesses. Their "therapy" is futile and only makes the patients dependent on the institution itself, thereby creating its need for existence (at the taxpayer's expense). McMurphy is a threat to the establishment and therefore must be "dealt with."

A lot of people criticize the film by suggesting that Nurse Ratched "isn't that bad" or that "she was only trying to do her job", etc. I had the same reaction the first couple of times I saw it. This reveals an aspect of the film's brilliance: Ratched's malevolence is so subtle that the filmmakers allow the possibility for complete misinterpretation. Yes, from an administrative point of view, she seemingly does a good job, she's authoritarian without being sadistic, and she cares for the residents as long as they follow the rules (more on this below). Yet she is absolutely demonic as a robotized arm of a dehumanizing system. She maintains the residents in a state of oblivion and marginalization; they are deprived of their dignity because the system sees them as subhuman.

The filmmakers and Fletcher make Nurse Ratched a more effective antagonist by showing restraint. Compare this to, say, Faye Dunaway's portrayal of Joan Crawford in "Mommie Dearest," which pretty much turned her into a cartoon villain. Ratched isn't such an obvious sadist, yet she uses the rules to tyrannize the men and reduce them to an almost infantile state of dependency and subservience. Her crowning achievement is Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif).

McMurphy, despite his obvious flaws, is the protagonist of the story. Although he's impulsive and has a weakness for the female gender, which got him into prison in the first place, he has a spirit of freedom and life. His problem is that he needs to learn a bit of wisdom; then he can walk in his freedom without causing unnecessary harm to himself and others.

Nurse Ratched, on the other hand, represents legal-ism, which is an authoritarian spirit obsessed with laws or rules. This is clearly seen in the World Series sequence: Even though McMurphy gets the final vote he needs for his ward to watch the Series Ratched refuses to allow it on a technicality. When McMurphy then PRETENDS to watch the game and works the guys up into a state of euphoria, Ratched reacts with sourpuss disapproval. That's because legalism is the opposite of the spirit of freedom, life and joy. Legalism is all about putting on appearances and enforcing the LETTER of the law (or rule). The problem with this is that "appearances" are not about reality and, worse, "the letter kills."

Despite his folly and mistakes, McMurphy does more good for the guys in his ward than Ratched and the institution could do in a decade. How so? Not only because he has a spirit of freedom and life, but because he loves deeply, but only those who deserve it – the humble – not arrogant abusers. When you cast restraint to the wind and love with all your heart you'll reap love in return, as long as the person is worthy. A certain person hugs McMurphy at the end because he loves him. McMurphy set him free from the shackles of mental illness and, worse, the institution that refuses to actually heal because it needs mentally ill people to exist; it only goes through the motions of caring and healing (not that there aren't any good people in such institutions, of course).

No review of this film is complete without mentioning the notable character of Chief, played effectively by Will Sampson.

The film runs 2 hour and 13 minutes.

GRADE: A


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