One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

one flew over the cuckoos nest poster 1975 movie
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Solid story, acting, and look


Movie Info

Movie Name:  One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Studio:  Fantasy Films/Bryna Productions/N.V. Zvaluw

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  November 19, 1975

MPAA Rating:  R

one flew over the cuckoos nest nurse rached washington pilbow louise fletcher nathan george mimi sarkisian

Ratched and her thugs

One flew east, one flew west, one flew over the cuckoo’s nest.  Randle Patrick “Mac” McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) has an idea…pretend to be crazy to get a shortened sentence on a statutory rape.  Interned at a mental hospital, McMurphy has met his match in the ruler of the ward Nurse Mildred Ratchet (Louise Fletcher).  Ratched rules the ward with an iron fist, and McMurphy is winning over her patients one-at-a-time.  Now, Mac is going head to head with Nurse Ratchet, but Ratchet has the upper hand because Mac has made a fatal flaw…he is trapped in her ward.

Directed by Milos Forman and produced by Michael Douglas, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a drama.  The film adapts the classic 1962 novel by Ken Kesey.  The movie was praised by critics and swept the Academy Awards by winning all the major awards Best Picture, Best Actor (Jack Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher), Best Director, and Best Adapted Screenplay with nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Brad Dourif), Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, and Best Original Score.  It was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 1993.

one flew over the cuckoos neset chief randal mcmurphy jack nicholson will sampson

Put it in the basket, Chief

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was one of those movies that really got me when I first saw it.  It is almost an intro art film because of its style, acting, and script, yet still attainable for almost all viewers. Once I saw the movie, I almost ODed on it by watching it multiple times.

The story of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is great and Ken Kesey came up with the idea for the novel as working as an overnight orderly at a mental hospital.  Kesey allegedly didn’t like the film, but it is such a smart portrayal of a power struggle between two “leaders” and how they use the people around them to get what they want.  It is a battle of wits, but McMurphy does not realize that the tables are tipped against him until it is too late.

one flew over the cuckoos nest fishing trip


The acting in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is top notch. I love this period of Jack Nicholson. He wasn’t just “Jack”, but this feels like the start of the Jack Nicholson persona he created for himself (plus his portrayal in The Shining).  I can’t imagine the movie with James Caan who was originally wanted for the role.  Louise Fletcher isn’t the best actress, but she works perfectly as the almost robotically cold Nurse Ratchet which is one of films greatest villains (Lily Tomlin was considered for this role).  The movie also has tons of great supporting actors in the memorable institutionalized men which include Brad Dourif as Billy Bibbit, Will Sampson as “Chief” Bromden, Sydney Lassick as Charlie Cheswick, Christopher Lloyd as Max Taber, Vincent Schiavelli as Frederickson, Michael Berryman as Ellis, and Danny DeVito as Martini.  Plus, Scatman Crothers plays one of the attending nurses and the extras were actual patients.

one flew over the cuckoos nest billy bibbit brad dourif mews small

Billy (and his hair) get some action

The movie has that gritty 1970s look that gives it additional edge.  It is very dull in color which adds to the monotony that the patients are facing day-by-day in the ward where they are held.  There is very little life and very little color…but McMurphy is a spark of color that Ratched cannot seem to naturally snuff out despite her efforts.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a great coming together of a lot of factors.  The movie is strong and since it was set at an earlier time when it was released in 1975, it doesn’t feel dated.  With a solid script, great actors, and with great direction, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is a deserving classic that has a tragic ending you see coming but cannot stop.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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