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One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a film about a group of patients at a mental institution, opens in theaters. Directed by Milos Forman and based on a 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey, the film starred Jack Nicholson and was co-produced by the actor Michael Douglas. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest went on to become the first film in four decades to win in all five of the major Academy Award categories: Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Actress (Louise Fletcher, who played Nurse Ratched), Best Director, Best Screenplay (Adapted) and Best Picture.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest marked Jack Nicholson’s first Oscar win, although the actor, who was born April 22, 1937, in Neptune, New Jersey, had already received four other Academy Award nominations by that time. Nicholson’s first nomination, in the Best Supporting Actor category, came for his performance as an alcoholic lawyer in 1969’s Easy Rider, co-starring Dennis Hopper and Peter Fonda. He earned his next Oscar nomination, for Best Actor, for 1970’s Five Easy Pieces, in which he played a drifter. For 1973’s The Last Detail, Nicholson earned another Best Actor Oscar nomination. His fourth Best Actor Oscar nomination came for his performance as Detective Jake Gittes in director Roman Polanski’s Chinatown (1974). In One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Nicholson played Randle McMurphy, a convict who pretends to be crazy so he can be sent to a mental institution and avoid prison work detail. Once at the asylum, McMurphy encounters a varied cast of inmates and clashes memorably with the authoritative Nurse Ratched.
During the 1980s, Nicholson, known for his charisma and devilish grin, appeared in such films as Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining (1980), which was based on a Stephen King horror novel; The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981), with Jessica Lange; Reds (1981), which was directed by Warren Beatty and earned Nicholson another Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination; Terms of Endearment (1983), for which he collected a second Best Actor Oscar; Prizzi’s Honor (1985), for which he received another Best Actor Oscar nomination; The Witches of Eastwick (1987), with Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer; Ironweed (1987), for which he took home yet another Best Actor Academy Award nomination; and Batman (1989), in which he portrayed the villainous Joker.
Nicholson’s prolific film work in the 1990s included The Two Jakes (1990), a sequel to Chinatown directed by Nicholson himself, the biopic Hoffa (1992) and A Few Good Men (1992), for which he earned another Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination. A Few Good Men features Tom Cruise and Demi Moore and includes the now-famous Nicholson line “You can’t handle the truth.” Nicholson won his third Best Actor Oscar for 1997’s As Good as it Gets, which co-stars Helen Hunt, and earned his 12th Academy Award nomination for his performance in 2002’s About Schmidt.
One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
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One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest , American dramatic film, released in 1975, that was based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Ken Kesey. The movie, directed by Miloš Forman and starring Jack Nicholson, was the first film since It Happened One Night (1934) to win the Academy Awards for best picture, director, lead actor, lead actress, and screenplay. It also earned six Golden Globe Awards, including that for best drama, and six BAFTA Awards, including that for best film, and was selected in 1993 for preservation in the National Film Registry.
The movie is set during the early 1960s in the security ward of a state mental hospital and begins with the unit’s morning routine. Nurse Ratched (played by Louise Fletcher) enters for work, and the patients line up to receive their medications. A new inmate, R.P. McMurphy (Nicholson), arrives as a transfer from a prison work farm. As soon as he arrives on the ward, McMurphy begins interfering with the routines established by Nurse Ratched. At a group therapy session, McMurphy suggests a change in the daily schedule to allow the inmates to watch the World Series on television. Nurse Ratched, after saying that a change in routine is inadvisable, suggests that a vote be taken almost all the patients in the therapy session vote against the proposed change. Afterward, when inmates Harding (William Redfield) and Taber (Christopher Lloyd) get into a fight over a game of Monopoly, McMurphy sprays them with a hose and then announces that he is going to throw a water fountain through a window and escape to watch the World Series. He is unable to lift the water fountain, however. At the next group therapy session, after Nurse Ratched shames Billy Bibbit ( Brad Dourif) by asking him why he did not disclose to his mother that he had once fallen in love, Cheswick (Sydney Lassik) and McMurphy ask for a vote on watching the next game in the World Series. This time all the patients in the group vote in favour, but Nurse Ratched points out that those in therapy are only half of the inmates on the ward, and so the proposed change is denied.
Later, in the yard, McMurphy climbs onto the shoulders of the gigantic and seemingly deaf and mute American Indian Chief Bromden (Will Sampson) and over the security fence to hide in a bus that is waiting to take inmates on a scheduled field trip. After the patients have boarded the bus, McMurphy drives it to a boat chartering service—first stopping to pick up a friend, Candy (Marya Small)—and he takes them out fishing. They return happily to the dock only to find several police officers and Dr. Spivey (Dean Brooks) waiting for them. Back at the hospital, Dr. Spivey and other doctors agree that McMurphy is not mentally disturbed and should be returned to the prison. Nurse Ratched persuades them that she can help him if he remains on the ward. After having learned from an orderly that he can be held in the hospital past the end of his sentence, McMurphy inquires at a group therapy session as to why no one told him that he could be kept in the hospital indefinitely. Nurse Ratched tells him that many of the inmates choose to remain in the hospital. When other patients begin objecting to various restrictions, the session descends into chaos, and Cheswick, Chief Bromden, and McMurphy are sent to receive electroshock therapy. While they are waiting, Chief Bromden reveals to McMurphy that he is neither deaf nor mute but feigns the conditions in order to be left alone, and they make plans to escape together. The night of the planned escape, McMurphy’s friends Candy and Rose (Louisa Moritz) arrive bearing liquor. McMurphy bribes the night watchman, Turkle (Scatman Crothers), to let them onto the ward and awakens the inmates. A drunken revel ensues. The day shift, including Nurse Ratched, arrive the following morning to find the ward trashed, the inmates passed out on the floor, and Bibbit in bed with Candy. After Nurse Ratched shames him, Bibbit commits suicide. McMurphy, enraged, attacks Nurse Ratched and attempts to strangle her, but an orderly knocks him out.
One night sometime later, Chief Bromden watches two orderlies return McMurphy to the ward and place him in his bed. Chief tells McMurphy that now is the time to escape. McMurphy does not respond, and Chief realizes that he has been rendered helpless by a lobotomy. Chief says that he will not leave McMurphy in that condition and, in an act of mercy, smothers him with a pillow. Chief Bromden then pulls up a water fountain, throws it through a window, and exits.
Kesey’s novel was adapted by Dale Wasserman into a play that opened on Broadway in 1963 and featured Kirk Douglas as McMurphy. Douglas acquired the film rights to the novel and held them for more than a decade. He later transferred those rights to his son, Michael Douglas, who coproduced the movie with Saul Zaentz. Kesey was so displeased with the film, however, that he filed suit against the production. The movie was shot in the Oregon State Hospital, and Dean Brooks, who portrayed Dr. Spivey, was that institution’s superintendent. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest also marked the credited film debuts of Brad Dourif, Christopher Lloyd, and Will Sampson.
The book is narrated by "Chief" Bromden, a gigantic yet docile half-Native American patient at a psychiatric hospital, who presents himself as deaf and mute. Bromden’s tale focuses mainly on the antics of the rebellious Randle Patrick McMurphy, who faked insanity to serve his sentence for battery and gambling in the hospital rather than at a prison work farm. The head administrative nurse, Nurse Ratched, rules the ward with absolute authority and little medical oversight. She is assisted by her three day-shift orderlies and her assistant doctors and nurses.
McMurphy constantly antagonizes Nurse Ratched and upsets the routines of the ward, leading to endless power struggles between the inmate and the nurse. He runs a card table, captains the ward's basketball team, comments on Nurse Ratched's figure, incites the other patients to conduct a vote about watching the World Series on television, and organizes a deep-sea fishing trip wherein the patients were going to be "supervised" by prostitutes. After claiming to be able, and subsequently failing, to lift a heavy control panel in the defunct hydrotherapy room (referred to as the "tub room"), his response—"But at least I tried"—gives the men incentive to try to stand up for themselves, instead of allowing Nurse Ratched to take control of every aspect of their lives. The Chief opens up to McMurphy, revealing late one night that he can speak and hear. A violent disturbance after the fishing trip results in McMurphy and the Chief being sent for electroshock therapy sessions, but such punishment does nothing to curb McMurphy's rambunctious behavior.
One night, after bribing the night orderly, McMurphy smuggles two prostitute girlfriends with liquor onto the ward and breaks into the pharmacy for codeine cough syrup and unnamed psychiatric medications. McMurphy, having noticed on the fishing trip that Billy Bibbit—a timid, boyish patient with a stutter and little experience with women—had a crush on the prostitute named Candy, primarily arranged this break-in so that Billy could lose his virginity and, to a slightly lesser extent so that McMurphy and other patients could throw an unsanctioned party. Although McMurphy agrees before the end of the night to a plan involving his escaping before the morning shift starts, he and the other patients instead fall asleep without cleaning up the mess of the group's antics, and the morning staff discovers the ward in complete disarray. Nurse Ratched finds Billy and the prostitute in each other's arms, partially dressed, and admonishes him. Billy asserts himself for the first time, answering Nurse Ratched without stuttering. Ratched calmly threatens to tell Billy's mother what she has seen. Billy has an emotional breakdown, regressing immediately back to a boyish state, and, upon being left alone in the doctor's office, takes his life by cutting his own throat. Nurse Ratched blames McMurphy for the loss of Billy's life. Enraged at what she has done to Billy, McMurphy attacks Ratched, sexually assaulting her by ripping her shirt open and attempting to strangle her to death. McMurphy is physically restrained and moved to the Disturbed ward.
Nurse Ratched misses a week of work due to her injuries, during which time many of the patients either transfer to other wards or check out of the hospital forever. When she returns, she cannot speak and is thus deprived of her most potent tool to keep the men in line. With Bromden, Martini, and Scanlon the only patients who attended the boat trip left on the ward, McMurphy is brought back in. He has received a lobotomy, and is now in a vegetative state, rendering him silent and motionless. The Chief smothers McMurphy with a pillow during the night in an act of mercy before lifting the tub room control panel that McMurphy could not lift earlier, throwing it through a window and escaping the hospital.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was written in 1959 and published in 1962 in the midst of the Civil Rights Movement  and deep changes to the way psychology and psychiatry were being approached in America. The 1960s began the controversial movement towards deinstitutionalization,   an act that would have affected the characters in Kesey's novel. The novel is a direct product of Kesey's time working the graveyard shift as an orderly at a mental health facility in Menlo Park, California.  Not only did he speak to the patients and witness the workings of the institution he also voluntarily took psychoactive drugs, including mescaline and LSD, as part of Project MKUltra. 
In addition to his work with Project MKUltra, Kesey took LSD recreationally. He advocated for drug use as a path to individual freedom,  an attitude that was reflected in the views of psychological researchers of the time.   In the 1960s LSD was thought to offer the best access to the human mind. Each individual's experiences were said to vary emotions and experiences ranged from transformations into other life forms, religious experiences, and extreme empathy.  It was Kesey's experience with LSD and other psychedelics that made him sympathetic toward the patients. [ citation needed ]
The novel constantly refers to different authorities that control individuals through subtle and coercive methods. The novel's narrator, the Chief, combines these authorities in his mind, calling them "The Combine" in reference to the mechanistic way they manipulate and process individuals. The authority of The Combine is most often personified in the character of Nurse Ratched who controls the inhabitants of the novel's mental ward through a combination of rewards and subtle shame.  Although she does not normally resort to conventionally harsh discipline, her actions are portrayed as more insidious than those of a conventional prison administrator. This is because the subtlety of her actions prevents her prisoners from understanding they are being controlled at all. The Chief also sees the Combine in the damming of the wild Columbia River at Celilo Falls, where his Native American ancestors hunted, and in the broader conformity of post-war American consumer society. The novel's critique of the mental ward as an instrument of oppression comparable to the prison mirrored many of the claims that French intellectual Michel Foucault was making at the same time. Similarly, Foucault argued that invisible forms of discipline oppressed individuals on a broad societal scale, encouraging them to censor aspects of themselves and their actions. The novel also criticizes the emasculation of men in society, particularly in the character of Billy Bibbit, the stuttering Acute patient who is domineered by both Nurse Ratched and his mother.
Central elements of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest embody Erving Goffman's sociological analysis of total institutions, particularly the analytical subset of mental hospitals. Goffman's description of admission procedures in total institutions, for example, reflects the notion of "the combine" espoused by Chief Bromden's character: "Admission procedures might be called 'trimming' or 'programming' because, in thus being squared away, the new arrival allows himself to be shaped and coded into an object that can be fed into the administrative machinery, to be worked on smoothly by routine operations"  (p. 16). Further, the behavior of the patients in One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest represent the range of adaptations to total institutions delineated in section VI of "The Inmate World" in the essay, "Characteristics of Total Institutions." 
The title of the book is a line from a nursery rhyme:
Vintery, mintery, cutery, corn,
Apple seed and apple thorn,
Wire, briar, limber lock
Three geese in a flock
One flew East
One flew West
And one flew over the cuckoo's nest
Chief Bromden's grandmother sang a version of this song to him when he was a child, a fact revealed in the story when the Chief received yet another ECT treatment after he assisted McMurphy with defending George, a patient being abused by the ward's aides.
- Randle McMurphy: A free-spirited, rebellious con man, sent to the hospital from a prison work farm. He is guilty of battery and gambling. He had also been charged with — but never convicted of, due to the girl in question not wishing to testify so as not to implicate herself and her willingness to participate — statutory rape. McMurphy is transferred from a prison work farm to the hospital, thinking it will be an easy way to serve out his sentence in comfort. In the end, McMurphy attacks Nurse Ratched, sacrificing his freedom and his health in exchange for freeing the previously shackled spirits of the cowed patients on the ward.
- Chief Bromden: The novel's half-Native American narrator has been in the mental hospital since the end of World War II. Bromden is presumed by staff and patients alike to be deaf and mute, and through this guise he becomes privy to many of the ward's dirtiest secrets.  As a young man, the Chief was a high school football star, a college student, and a war hero. After seeing his father, a Native American chieftain, humiliated at the hands of the U.S. government and his white wife, Chief Bromden descends into clinical depression and begins hallucinating. Soon he is diagnosed with schizophrenia. He believes society is controlled by a large, mechanized system which he calls "The Combine."
- Richard Gray, author of A History of American Literature, said Bromden "supplies" the novel's "vision".  Gray explains Bromden's "eye" "sees the inner truth" and Bromden "is an outsider, an innocent eye in a way like Huck Finn, but what he sees is far stranger, far more surreal."  Gray explained Bromden's vision "may not be literally true but it is symbolically so because, to quote Emily Dickinson again, 'Much madness is divinest sense.'"  The first chapter ends with the Chief pleading to the reader, ". you think this is too horrible to have really happened, this is too awful to be the truth! But, please. It's still hard for me to have a clear mind thinking on it. But it's the truth even if it didn't happen."
- Nurse Ratched (also known as "Big Nurse"): The tyrannical head nurse of the mental institution, who exercises near-total control over those in her care, including her subordinates. She will not hesitate to restrict her patients' access to medication, amenities, and basic human necessities if it suits her manipulative whims. Her favorite informant is the timid Billy Bibbit, whom she coerces into divulging the unit's secrets by threatening to complain about him to his mother. McMurphy's fun-loving, rebellious presence in Ratched's institution is a constant annoyance, as neither threats nor punishment nor shock therapy will stop him or the patients under his sway. Eventually, after McMurphy nearly chokes her to death in a fit of rage, Nurse Ratched has him lobotomized. However, the damage has already been done, and Nurse Ratched's rule is broken after McMurphy's attack leaves her nearly unable to speak, which renders her unable to intimidate her patients, subordinates and superiors.
- The "Black Boys" Washington, Williams, and Warren: Three black men who work as aides in the ward. Williams is a dwarf, his growth supposedly “stunted after witnessing his mother being raped by white men.” The Chief says Nurse Ratched hired them for their sadistic nature.
- Geever: the swing shift aide.
- Dr. John Spivey: The ward doctor. Nurse Ratched drove off other doctors, but she kept Spivey because he always did as he was told. Harding suggests that the nurse could threaten to expose him as a drug addict if he stood up to her. McMurphy's rebellion inspires him to stand up to Nurse Ratched.
- Nurse Pilbow: The young night nurse. Her face, neck, and chest are stained with a profound birthmark. She is a devout Catholic and fears sinning. She blames the patients for infecting her with their evil and takes it out on them.
- Mr. Turkle: An elderly African American aide who works the late shift in the ward. He agrees to let McMurphy host a party and sneak in prostitutes one night.
- The Japanese Nurse: The nurse in charge of the upstairs disturbed ward, for violent and unmanageable patients. She is kind and openly opposes Nurse Ratched's methods.
The acutes are patients who officials believe can still be cured. With few exceptions, they are there voluntarily, a fact that angers McMurphy when he first learns of it, then later causes him to feel further pity for the patients, thus further inspiring him to prove to them they can still be strong despite their seeming willingness to be weak.
- Billy Bibbit: A nervous, shy, and boyish patient with an extreme speech impediment, Billy cuts and burns himself, and has attempted suicide numerous times. Billy has a fear of women, especially those with authority such as his mother. To alleviate this, McMurphy sneaks a prostitute into the ward so Billy can lose his virginity. The next morning, Nurse Ratched threatens to tell his mother fearing the loss of his mother's love, Billy has an emotional breakdown and commits suicide by cutting his own throat.
- Dale Harding: The unofficial leader of the patients before McMurphy arrives, he is an intelligent, good-looking man who's ashamed of his repressed homosexuality. Harding's beautiful yet malcontent wife is a source of shame for him.
- George Sorensen: A man with germaphobia, he spends his days washing his hands in the ward's drinking fountain. McMurphy manages to persuade him to lead a fishing expedition for the patients after discovering he had captained a PT boat during World War II. Afterward, the three black boys maliciously forcibly delouse him, cruelly knowing the mental anguish this will cause him.
- Charlie Cheswick: A loud-mouthed patient who always demands changes in the ward, but never has the courage to see anything through. He finds a friend in McMurphy, who's able to voice his opinions for him. At one point McMurphy decides to fall in line when he learns his stay in the ward is indefinite and his release is solely determined by the Big Nurse. As a result, Cheswick drowns himself in the ward's swimming pool when he decides he himself will never escape the relentless Big Nurse.
- Martini: A patient who suffers from severe hallucinations.
- Scanlon: A patient obsessed with explosives and destruction. He is the only other non-vegetative patient confined to the ward by force aside from McMurphy and Bromden the rest can leave at any time.
- Jim Sefelt and Bruce Fredrickson: Two epileptic patients. Sefelt refuses to take his anti-seizure medication, as it makes his teeth fall out and as such makes him self-conscious over his appearance. Fredrickson takes Sefelt's medication as well as his own because he is terrified of the seizures, and loses teeth due to the resulting overdosage.
- Max Taber: An unruly patient who was released before McMurphy arrived. The Chief later describes how, after he questioned what was in his medication, Nurse Ratched had him "fixed."
The chronics are patients who will never be cured. Many of the chronics are elderly and/or in vegetative states.
- Ruckly: A hell-raising patient who challenged the rules until the Big Nurse authorized his lobotomy. After the lobotomy, he sits and stares at a picture of his wife, and occasionally screams profanities.
- Ellis: Ellis was put in a vegetative state by electroshock therapy. He stands against the wall in a disturbing messianic position with arms outstretched.
- Pete Bancini: Bancini suffered brain damage at birth but managed to hold down simple jobs, such as a switch operator on a lightly-used railroad branch line, until the switches were automated and he lost his job, after which he was institutionalized. The Chief remembers how once, and only once, he lashed out violently against the aides, telling the other patients that he was a living miscarriage, born dead.
- Rawler: A patient on the Disturbed ward, above the main ward, who says nothing but "loo, loo, loo!" all day and tries to run up the walls. One night, Rawler castrates himself while sitting on the toilet and bleeds to death before anyone realizes what he has done.
- Old Blastic: An old patient who is in a vegetative state. The first night McMurphy is in the ward, Bromden dreams Blastic is hung by his heel and sliced open, spilling his rusty visceral matter. The next morning, Bromden learns Blastic died during the night.
- The Lifeguard: An ex-professional football player, he still has the cleat marks on his forehead from the injury that scrambled his brains. He explains to McMurphy, unlike prison, patients are kept in the hospital as long as the staff desires. It is this conversation that causes McMurphy to fall in line for a time.
- Colonel Matterson: The oldest patient in the ward, he suffers from severe senile dementia and cannot move without a wheelchair. He is a veteran of World War I, and spends his days "explaining" objects through metaphor.
Other characters Edit
- Candy: The prostitute McMurphy brings on the fishing trip. Billy Bibbit has a crush on her and McMurphy arranges a night for Candy to have sex with him.
- Sandra: Another prostitute and friend of Candy and McMurphy. She and Sefelt sleep together on the night she and Candy are sneaked into the ward late one night. Sefelt has a seizure while they are fornicating.
- Vera Harding: Dale Harding's wife. Described as an attractive lady with very large breasts. She is a primary cause of concern for Dale, who often worries about her fidelity. She reveals to the patients that actually Dale himself has affairs - with other men.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is one of America's most challenged and banned novels.
- 1974: Five residents of Strongsville, Ohio sued the local Board of Education to remove the novel from classrooms. They deemed the book "pornographic" and said it "glorifies criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles, and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination".
- 1975: Randolph, New York and Alton, Oklahoma removed the book from all of their public schools.
- 1977: Schools in Westport, Maine removed it from required reading lists.
- 1978: Freemont High School in St. Anthony, Idaho banned it and fired the teacher who assigned it.
- 1982: Merrimack, New Hampshire High School challenged it.
- 1986: Aberdeen Washington High school challenged it in Honors English classes.
- 2000: Placentia Unified School District (Yorba Linda, California) challenged it. Parents said the teachers could "choose the best books, but they keep choosing this garbage over and over again". 
The novel was adapted into a 1963 play, starring Kirk Douglas (who purchased the rights to produce it for the stage and motion pictures) as McMurphy and Gene Wilder as Billy Bibbit. A film adaptation, starring Jack Nicholson, and co-produced by Michael Douglas was released in 1975. The film won five Academy Awards. The characters of Nurse Ratched and Chief Bromden appear as recurring characters in ABC's Once Upon a Time, where they are portrayed by Ingrid Torrance and Peter Marcin. Netflix and Ryan Murphy produced a prequel series titled Ratched which follows Sarah Paulson as a younger version of Nurse Ratched.  The first of the two season order was released on September 18, 2020.
Kesey’s ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ no longer ‘woke’ enough for production
Now it’s banned from a Juneau theater company because it’s racist and misogynistic.
Perseverance Theatre in Juneau cancelled the production because the story, written by a white man, features a Native American, a rapist, and negative depictions of those who work in the mental health field.
The novel is about a man who tries to escape a prison sentence by acting insane, gets himself locked up into an Oregon asylum, where he discovers things are much, much worse than prison.
Back in the 1970s, the book was routinely removed from public schools due to how it “glorifies criminal activity, has a tendency to corrupt juveniles, and contains descriptions of bestiality, bizarre violence, and torture, dismemberment, death, and human elimination.”
But all of that is acceptable in this era. What is not acceptable is racial insensitivity, sexual assault, and hurting the feelings of those who run psych wards.
Kesey’s book, published in 1962, and the film version that starred Jack Nicholson in the 1970s, had a profound impact on the field of mental health and the wide-but-questionable use of shock therapy, which is featured prominently in the book.
The procedure, described by Nurse Ratched in the book “might be said to do the work of the sleeping pill, the electric chair and the torture rack. It’s a clever little procedure, simple, quick, nearly painless it happens so fast, but no one ever wants another one. Ever.”
The book has been credited with ending shock therapy as it was practiced back in the day, and its impact on the mental health field is widely debated throughout the profession.
Read the letter from the Juneau theater company describing the ban of Ken Kesey’s classic and the reasons for the ban:
Oscar goes Cuckoo: Hollywood's greatest success story, One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
On Oscar night 25 years ago, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest pulled off a feat no film had accomplished since Frank Capra’s It Happened One Night in 1935: It swept the top five categories at the Academy Awards.
Accepting the statuette for Best Picture was an unlikely pair of fledgling producers: Saul Zaentz, a Berkeley, Calif., jazz-record producer, and Michael Douglas, a struggling second-generation actor best known for the TV cop show The Streets of San Francisco. Meanwhile, Milos Forman, a down-on-his-luck Czech émigré whose American debut had flopped five years earlier, took home Best Director. Two screenwriters who had never so much as met each other — Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman — shared the stage as co-winners of best screenplay. And then there were the film’s stars: Louise Fletcher, the sixth choice for the movie’s villainous leading lady, won Best Actress and four-time nominee — and four-time loser — Jack Nicholson was finally anointed Best Actor.
But despite all of Cuckoo’s Nest‘s gold-plated glory at the Academy Awards, one person was curiously absent from the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on March 29, 1976 — Kirk Douglas. Watching the ceremony from his home in Palm Springs, Calif., the actor, then 59, savored the sweet taste of vindication from afar. After all, Douglas had struggled for a decade to adapt Ken Kesey’s allegorical novel — about the patients in a mental hospital and their rebellion against the system — into a movie. A struggle that he jokes almost drove him insane. So, on the silver anniversary of Cuckoo’s Nest‘s golden night at the Oscars, here is the behind-the-scenes story of how one Best Picture winner was almost never a picture at all …
&lsquoYou&rsquore no crazier than the average a&mdashhole out walking around on the streets!&rsquo
By the beginning of the 1960s, Kirk Douglas had already appeared in such classics as Champion, Lust for Life, and Spartacus. One of the first Hollywood stars to cross over into the position of producer, Douglas saw himself in the role of Cuckoo’s Nest‘s charismatic, crazy-like-a-fox inmate R.P. McMurphy the moment he read Kesey’s 1962 novel.
Purchasing the rights from the mercurial merry prankster Kesey, Douglas hired writer Dale Wasserman to adapt the book for Broadway while he scrambled full-time to get Hollywood studios interested. After all, how could they not jump with Kirk Douglas attached? Looking back at his decade-long string of rejections, Douglas says, ”What can I say? They didn’t jump.
”The studios are not necessarily brilliant, and this was something new,” says Douglas. ”It dealt with something that might make some people uncomfortable. So I thought, I’ll do it first as a play.” The critics were less than kind to the production. It closed after six months. ”My agent was furious at me because I was passing up all the offers for movies,” the actor recalls. So Douglas returned to Hollywood hurt and confused: ”I said to my wife, ‘I gave them a classic and they don’t even know it.’ ”
By the end of the s, Douglas had virtually given up on turning Cuckoo‘s Nest into a film, despite the fact that in the meantime, Kesey’s novel had become a hip totem of the counterculture. Over the years, others had shown interest in taking the producing reins, including a young actor named Jack Nicholson. But nothing happened until Douglas’ son Michael𠄺t the time a minor actor knocking around in such unforgettable films as Hail, Hero!𠄺pproached his father about the long-stalled project. “He was considering selling the motion picture rights because he𠆝 tried for a while,” says Michael. “So I asked him if I could run with it and see if I could try to get the picture set up. I was an actor who wasn’t getting a lot of work and I thought I𠆝 devote my time to trying to get the picture made.”
While in San Francisco shooting The Streets of San Francisco, Michael Douglas reached out to Saul Zaentz, the cherubic jazzbo head of Fantasy Records in Berkeley, who had also expressed interest in Cuckoo‘s Nest years earlier. “Kirk didn’t want to sell it unless he starred in it,” recalls Zaentz. “So nothing came of it until 1971, when Michael Douglas called us up. He asked if we were still interested.”
Milos Forman, who fled his homeland in 1968 when Soviet tanks rolled into Prague, had made several well-regarded films in Czechoslovakia, but his first Hollywood movie, 1971’s Taking Off𠄺 satire of the hippie movement𠄻ombed. Living hand-to-mouth at New York’s low-rent bohemian enclave the Chelsea Hotel, Forman was unable to pay his rent as he awaited his next directing gig. “Strangely enough, I wasn’t panicking because I knew I couldn’t go back to Czechoslovakia,” says Forman. 𠇊nd then comes this book in an envelope from Saul and Michael. And in my youthful arrogance, I thought, ‘Of course I’m the right director because the book is about what I just left–the totalitarian system.&apos”
What Forman didn’t know was that Zaentz and Douglas had already met with virtually every other director in Hollywood. The producers set up a meeting with the Czech director at Yamato’s𠄺 Japanese restaurant in Los Angeles’ Century City. “We came in about 8 p.m. for dinner and we closed up the joint like in old movies where the waiters circle the table emptying the ashtrays and looking at their watches,” says Zaentz. “He was telling us how he saw the picture with such passion𠉪nd as we left, Michael and I were walking on air.” Only later, when Michael told his father about the director he𠆝 chosen, did they see what seemed to be the hand of fate. In the mid-s, while Kirk Douglas was on a State Department-sponsored tour of Eastern Europe, he met Forman and promised to send him the book, but Forman never received it. It had been intercepted by Communist censors. Says Forman: “I thought, well, these Hollywood big shots twist your head around and promises, promises, then they forget about you. And then later, Kirk told me he thought the same thing. ‘This a–hole, I sent him the book and he didn’t even say thank you.&apos”
After several far-out script drafts by Kesey, Lawrence Hauben — a friend of Michael Douglas’ — had been tapped to work on the screenplay. (Hauben died of cancer in 1985.) While Hauben’s script was structurally sound, Zaentz thought it lacked heart. Forman’s agent suggested that Bo Goldman, a novice screenwriter and librettist he also represented, take a stab at it. “They came to me because I was cheap,” laughs Goldman. “I hadn’t really done anything and I was starting to lose hope. I was going to give up and go back out to Long Island with my wife and run a fish store in Sagaponack.”
For the next eight weeks, Goldman would show up at Forman’s room at L.A.’s Sunset Marquis to hammer out the script. At the time, the hotel was better known as Ellis Island West, due to its reputation as an outpost for vagrant writers and second-rate actors who𠆝 just moved to Hollywood. “He had on a maroon bathing suit and a 1965 world’s fair shirt, and that costume never varied over the two months we worked on the script in that room,” says Goldman. The routine rarely changed either: Arriving at 10 each morning, Goldman would have to wait only an hour before the cigar-smoking Forman would offer him Czech beer, black bread, and red cabbage out of a mason jar.
While Forman and Goldman were pounding out the screenplay, Douglas and Zaentz were running into the same series of slammed studio doors Kirk Douglas had encountered years earlier. “They kept saying ‘Who wants to see another Snake Pit?&apos” remembers Douglas. “It wasn’t until a lot later that I found out The Snake Pit had been a commercially successful picture. That would have been a good comeback to have had at the time.” Adds Forman: “I believe that they just go to a computer and ask it, ‘How many films about mental illness made money?’ One studio said it was too depressing and had all these suggestions: Maybe if McMurphy doesn’t choke the nurse, and maybe if Billy Bibbit doesn’t commit suicide, and maybe if Chief doesn’t perform the mercy killing of McMurphy, maybe they would be interested.”
With no choice but to make Cuckoo‘s Nest on their own, Zaentz and Douglas scratched together $4 million, with a significant chunk going to its star, Jack Nicholson, to sign on in the starring role. “Of course I still wanted to play McMurphy,” says Kirk Douglas. 𠇋ut I didn’t want to put any conditions on the movie. They had to do what they thought.”
&lsquoAnd now they&rsquore telling me I&rsquom crazy over here because I don&rsquot sit there like a goddamn vegetable&rsquo
Jack Nicholson was always Forman’s first choice to play McMurphy. Coming off Oscar-nominated performances in Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, The Last Detail, and Chinatown, Nicholson was an actor in demand. And when they were told they𠆝 have to wait several months for Nicholson to wrap another movie, they began to bat around potential backups such as Gene Hackman and Marlon Brando. The one person who wasn’t considered was Kirk Douglas. “We all somehow felt without even speaking about it that he was already too old,” says Forman, who believed Nicholson was McMurphy.
Nicholson agreed. “My only hesitation about playing the part was that this guy was described as an enormous redhead. And that can throw you off when you’re reading something,” says Nicholson. 𠇋ut as far as the interior of the character…I knew I could play him to a T. I didn’t have a lot of reservations about anything in those days.”
After a brief television career in the late s, Louise Fletcher had all but dropped out of acting. Not that it would have mattered much. For the control-freak character of Nurse Ratched, the filmmakers considered just about every other actress-of-a-certain-age working: Colleen Dewhurst, Geraldine Page, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, and Angela Lansbury were all offered the role and flatly turned it down. “You have to remember at that time it was not politically correct for women to play villains,” says Michael Douglas. “It was the beginning of the women’s movement.” But then Nicholson suggested Fletcher after seeing her comeback performance in Robert Altman’s Thieves Like Us. “She just played a real dishwater-eyed kind of killer and I thought she was the right actress,” says Nicholson.
For the other supporting characters𠄻rad Dourif, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd, Vincent Schiavelli, William Redfield, William Duell, Sidney Lassick, and Will Sampson as Chief–Zaentz says they saw 1,260 actors from New York City and Los Angeles: “They had about as much film experience as you could fit in the navel of a flea.”
In January 1975, the cast and crew of Cuckoo‘s Nest headed to the Oregon State Hospital in Salem for the 11-week shoot. Once there, they added a few other faces to the cast. “The head of the hospital said he thought it would be therapy for some of his patients to be in the film,” says Forman. “It humbled everybody to see the lives of these poor souls.” Nicholson is still haunted by one particular late-night encounter at the hospital. “I’ll never forget being in the maximum-security ward upstairs watching shock treatments at four in the morning,” he says. “They gave three of them that morning, and I watched them all because I wanted to get it right. That atmosphere does sink in on you.”
In addition to the production’s bleak subject matter, there was something else casting a dark cloud over Cuckoo‘s Nest–its disgruntled creator, Kesey. On the first day of shooting, the filmmakers were quickly slapped back into reality by an interview Kesey gave to the local news. According to Goldman,”The interviewer asked Kesey if he went down to the set and Kesey answered, 𠆍oes a mother preside over her own abortion?&apos” Goldman believes Kesey’s beef was mainly author’s pride and anger that his own script wasn’t used. Kesey filed a lawsuit against the filmmakers (which was later settled). But, jokes Goldman, “he had no problem getting his hand out to endorse the checks for his points.”
When asked for his version of events, Kesey responded to ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY with an e-mail: “I’ve never seen the movie. During the lawsuit one of the lawyers says, 𠆊h, you’ll be the first in line to see this flick’–to which I responded, ‘I swear to God I won’t see it!’ And I consider it one of the smartest things I never did.”
&lsquoThis is not a dime, Martini. This is a dime! If you break it in half, you don&rsquot get two nickels, you get s&mdash! &hellip You understand?
On the strength of the film’s dailies, Zaentz and Douglas got United Artists to distribute the film. Needless to say, the studio received a far less lucrative deal than it would have gotten had it signed on before the shoot. Then again, United Artists had no clue that the $4 million film would rack up close to $200 million domestically and become the second-highest-grossing film of the year behind Jaws. “United Artists predicted that the film would make $10 million–which I thought was wonderful,” says Forman. “Then the next week they𠆝 say, ‘No, it might do 15!’ Then the next week, they said, ‘No, it might do 20!&apos”
Thanks to a lack of studio interest in the film before shooting started, the filmmakers now all stood to get rich off Cuckoo‘s Nest𠄾ven Kesey, who had 2 1/2 points. “I did tremendous,” cracks Nicholson, while Forman recalls being thrilled that he could finally pay off his back rent at the Chelsea Hotel. Still, Kirk Douglas says the real payoff was proving wrong those who𠆝 initially brushed him off. “Revenge is the right word,” says Douglas.
In February 1976, One Flew Over the Cuckoo‘s Nest was rewarded by the Academy with nine Oscar nominations. Its competition in the Best Picture category was Barry Lyndon, Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws, and Nashville. Nicholson now says he knew that he𠄺nd the film–would clean up. “I was due, and I just felt like I would win,” he says, referring to his four previous Oscar losses. But Michael Douglas doesn’t remember Nicholson being so cocky at the time. “Jack didn’t want to go. He just didn’t want to go through the whole process of going there one more time for a nomination. I remember he was sitting right in front of me, and the first four awards we were up for, we lost. And Jack turned to me and said, ‘Mikey, I told ya, I told ya. You see what’s happenin’?&apos”
But beginning with the screenwriting award, the landslide kicked in. “That was the tip-off,” recalls Forman, whose twin sons–he hadn’t seen them in eight years–had been allowed to leave Czechoslovakia to attend the ceremony with him. When Fletcher won her Best Actress Oscar, she indelibly brought down the house with an acceptance speech delivered in sign language to her deaf parents. At the end of the evening, as all the winners were gathered on stage, Nicholson turned to Goldman. “Jack hugged me and he leaned in to tell me something 𠄺nd I thought it was going to be something deep𠄺nd he said, ‘Gold, pure gold!&apos” laughs Goldman. “That’s when I realized he had 10 percent of the gross.” In fact, in his acceptance speech, Nicholson thanked Mary Pickford–the first actress to take a percentage of a film’s earnings.
Years later, in his autobiography The Ragman’s Son, Kirk Douglas wrote: 𠇌uckoo‘s Nest is one of the biggest disappointments of my life. I made more money from that film than any I acted in. And I would gladly give back every cent if I could have played that role.” Asked about his feelings now, on the 25th anniversary of its Oscar sweep, Douglas adds, “If Jack was lousy in it, I would have said, ‘What a mistake they made!’ But he got an Oscar, so maybe I would have been wrong in the part.”
As for the man who got to play McMurphy in the end, Nicholson says, “Well, you know, if Kirk hadn’t held on to Cuckoo‘s Nest with that granite-like jaw of his, none of us would have been there.”
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” opens in theaters - HISTORY
The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Guys & Dolls
She Loves Me
Hansel & Gretl & Heidi & Günter : Canceled due to COVID-19
The Wedding Singer : Canceled due to COVID-19
The Noteworthy Life of Howard Barnes
I Do! I Do!
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Million Dollar Quartet
Into the Woods
The Gin Game
Pump Boys and Dinettes
Singing in the Rain
The 39 Steps
A Proper Place
My Fair Lady
Crimes of the Heart
My Heart Is the Drum
In the Heights
Around the World in 80 Days
No Way to Treat a Lady
Fiddler on the Roof
Take Me America
Annie Get Your Gun
The Odd Couple
It Shoulda Been You
The Full Monty
Anne of Green Gables
Jesus Christ Superstar
Meet Me in St. Louis
Lost in Yonkers
The Gypsy King
Beauty and The Beast
The Importance of Being Earnest
Million Dollar Quartet
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s The King and I
Barefoot in the Park
Elton John and Tim Rice’s AIDA
Bye Bye Birdie
Once Upon a Time in New Jersey
The Who’s TOMMY
Once On This Island
On Golden Pond
Girl of My Dreams
The Secret Garden
Play It By Heart
The Music Man
The Wedding Banquet
To Kill a Mockingbird
Man of La Mancha
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
The Sound of Music
Driving Miss Daisy
Bell, Book and Candle
La Cage aux Folles
The Mystery of Edwin Drood
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
After the Fair
West Side Story
Babes in Arms
The Pirates Of Penzance
The Diary of Anne Frank
Kiss Me Quick Before the Lava Reaches the Village
1998-1999 – Village Theatre begins offering full seasons at the Everett Performing Arts Center
My Fair Lady
The Mask of Moriarty
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
Little Shop of Horrors
Fiddler on the Roof
Bells Are Ringing
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
Ten Little Indians
Guys & Dolls
On The Town
Kiss Me Kate
1994-1995 – Francis J. Gaudette Theatre opens in Issaquah
Babes In Toyland
A Man for All Seasons
You Can’t Take it With You
The Miracle Worker
Arsenic and Old Lace
Jesus Christ Superstar
Jungle Queen Debutante*
Anne of Green Gales
Book of James*
Hans Christian Andersen
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Annie Get Your Gun
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Taming of the Shrew
To Kill A Mockingbird
The Wizard of Oz
Children of a Lesser God
The Importance of Being Earnest
Dames at Sea
The Sound of Music
Crimes of the Heart
West Side Story
The Pirates of Penzance
Fiddler on the Roof
A Thousand Clowns
The Music Man
A Coupla White Chicks Sitting Around Talking
My Fair Lady
The Gin Game
Man of La Mancha
Wait Until Dark
A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum
The King and I
On Golden Pond
The New Beanstalk*
One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest
Guys and Dolls
Les Belles Soeurs
The Sound of Music
See How They Run
Inherit the Wind
The Odd couple
The Unsinkable Molly Brown
The Effect of Gamma Rays On Man-In-The-Moon Marigolds
Bye Bye Birdie
How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
Man of La Mancha
Story of the Charleyman John*
You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown
Death of a Salesman
The Music Man
Cuckoo's Nest demonizes successful women
Nurse Ratched may not be the ward's doctor or anyone with a significant level of authority, at least on paper. Yet she manipulates the staff through fear just as much as she plays god with her patients. No one stands up to her, even when they can see that there's something wrong. Ratched holds all the cards for who gets released and who gets life-altering procedures: Nothing on the ward happens without her say-so.
It wasn't until the feminist movement in the '60s that working women in the U.S. rose to significant numbers. While a significant number of single women were in the workforce in 1930, only about 12 percent of married women worked. That number rose to about 50 percent by 1970. After picking up various jobs while men were serving in World War II, married women found purpose in employment, and many fought to keep working after the war ended and their husbands returned. Many men weren't thrilled with this and campaigned to keep "women in their place" as homemakers. Given this stigma, it's not a shock that the film depicts working women in a harmful manner.
With the context of the time period, fans can interpret Ratched's power-hungry manipulation of the ward as a fearmongering depiction of all of the awful things that can happen when a woman is in charge. Patients frequently accuse Ratched of taking away their manhood when they rant to each other — a point further driven home by the shot of Ratched smiling after forcing Mac into a lobotomy.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
And perhaps "critically acclaimed" is putting it mildly, as Cuckoo's Nest practically swept the 1975 Academy Awards®, raking in Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, and Adapted Screenplay all in one sitting. Very few films can lay claim to such a feat, and this one is certainly deserving. With wonderfully developed characters, intense performances, and a truly touching story, this film is one that is not only worthy of such awards, but also such an improved DVD transfer.
Although DVD lovers first got our hands on this flick back in the earliest days of the format, the quality of the 1997 single-disc, featureless package was expectedly poor, as nearly all early discs were at that time. Now that Warner is revisiting some of its more deserving titles with digitally remastered two-disc Special Editions, it comes as no surprise to see this one on the list. While fans of the celebrated film will be truly thrilled to witness the improved quality of this 2002 edition, there's still much room left for additional DVD content to please the fans.
The 1970s was an interesting decade for the United States. Our military actions were slowly winding down overseas, but a spirit of non-conformism was still very prevalent within the blood of many Americans. Take a step back to the 1960s, and these feelings were amplified tenfold. They were portrayed in nearly every aspect of our culture at the time, most especially in music, books, and movies. One quick read through novelist Ken Kesey's work One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and youɽ agree that these same emotions of fear, mistrust, and insecurity line the narrative. Although his text was later reworked into screenplay form, these emotions remain the foundation of this fine film.
Our story roots itself in a small-town mental hospital, where a group of unfortunate patients spend their days staring at walls and attempting to rebuild the chemical balance of their brains through group therapy chats and poker. Little did they expect to have their quiet community rocked, as none other than Jack Nicholson strolls through the front doors as the wild and frisky Randle P. McMurphy. Not content with simply swallowing his medication and abiding by the routine of the institution, McMurphy struggles throughout the entire picture, fighting to express himself in ways that only Nicholson could portray.
Truly no other actor could have delivered such a gripping, gritty, and genuine performance as the masterful Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Many in today's generation of filmgoers have yet to witness the man in the earlier years of his career, and this film is a true benchmark in the Nicholson library of classics. McMurphy joins the rat pack of mental patients with a few minor disorders himself, but clearly he's the intellectual giant of the bunch -- a fact that he never once doubts and continually attempts to reinforce through his brash behavior. Nicholson lights up the screen in every cut, with powerfully delivered lines that range from furrowed glances, to hysterical laughter, to maniacal fits of rage. From the first frame, you'll find yourself slowly developing an affinity for his character against your better judgment. Don't hold it against yourself you're simply at the mercy of Nicholson's awesome performance. It never falters for a second, and the climactic sequence will surely leave you drained of all emotion.
Opposite Nicholson, we find Academy Award¿ winner Louise Fletcher playing Nurse Mildred Ratched. Or as I like to call her, Lady Darth Vader:
Mildred is the head nurse at the facility, and her role is one of the most perplex of the picture. At a glance, she embodies all that is good: dressed in sparkling white attire, with a Donna Reed motherly demeanor that demands both respect and love. But McMurphy takes it upon himself to torture the poor woman, and in doing so exposes the true monster lurking beneath her skin. It's an absolutely amazing performance, packed with a subtle power that only Nicholson could oppose. Fletcher's scornful winks are one of the many highlights of the picture.
While Nicholson is considered to be the only "star" actor to meet the Cuckoo's budget, other extremely notable performances come from several unknown actors of the time, including Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd. The modern day comic pair is best known for later works, but their bits in Cuckoo's Nest are just as important here as they are entertaining. DeVito rarely speaks such few and subdued lines as he does here, and it's amazing to see such a different side of his craft displayed during his younger years. Christopher Lloyd, on the other hand, is just as nutty as Doc Brown ever was, with his bulging eyeballs and flailing Kramer-esque limbs. The entire Cuckoo cast of mental patients comprise one of the most memorable and unwittingly lovable group of friends (if you could call them that) in modern cinema.
Despite its comedic tendencies, this film also carries with it some very strong and dark undertones, as the drama slowly evolves into tragedy toward its conclusion. The film is powerful, moving, at times confusing, and perhaps one of the most inspiring works I've viewed in quite a while. Its appeal (aided by the great performances) took me by surprise, and I can't help but recommend this one to all film lovers mature enough to handle its eventual psychotic trauma.
10 out of 10
For those who purchased the previously released 1997 disc of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, the good news is that this brand new, two-disc Special Edition set is definitely worthy of the new purchase. After going back and comparing the two film transfers, there's really no comparison: 2002 wins without hesitation. It's quite obvious that the 1997 single-disc suffered from both a lack of technological finesse and tender loving care, as the original was so dirty with artifacting that it was nearly unwatchable.
However, in this digitally remastered version we find a presentation that is not quite perfect, but light-years beyond the original release. Some flickery dirt still pops up from time to time, most notably in the opening and closing sequences. But once the disc starts spinning, the clarity and sharpness of the imagery will help you to overlook any such minor defects. Color balancing has also taken place, as the original release was entirely over-saturated to the point of white uniforms looking yellow throughout the hospital ward interior shots. The film now appears much less warm than it did before, and in doing so, much more true to the original print and artistic vision of the director.
Another interesting correction of the new digital print is the proper aspect ratio of the film has now been delivered, and animorphically at that. It appears that the letterboxed version of the 1997 disc not only chopped off the edges of the frame, but also then further stretched the image somewhat horizontally to compensate. The result was a horrific (albeit difficult to spot) chop and stretch effect that looks ridiculously silly in comparison to the images carried on the Special Edition set.
Have a look at some of these side-by-side comparison shots, and notice not only the enhanced colors and clarity, but also the sharpness and detail instilled with the new transfer. It's definitely a worthy reprint:
8 out of 10
As all good special edition sets (and DVDs in general) should, Cuckoo's soundtrack has been upgraded to the realm of Dolby Digital 5.1. Everything throughout the feature sounds excellent, as you'll hear footsteps echoing down hallways and conversation circling around the room in one of the many group therapy sessions. Much like the video aspects, the end result DVD is ultimately limited by the preservation efforts made in years past to keep this film in good form, and thus there is really only so far the DVD production team can go to enhance the assets its left with. Nevertheless, there is no hissing or other such aging determents one might expect to find, and the listening experience is quite an enjoyable one.
While you won't be using it as a demo disc to impress your friends, the aural quality is on par with the video quality -- not a perfect presentation, but a marked improvement over the original release and an excellent way to rewatch this masterful film.
8 out of 10
Because of its two-disc nature, one might expect that the second 9 GB DVD disc would be loaded with endless menus of options in keeping with the current DVD special edition trend. Such a person would be sorely disappointed with One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. That's not to say that there aren't any worthwhile features worth checking out -- just to say that you won't be flooded with an extra 5 hours of content to peruse.
Here's what you will find on the second disc:
And that's about it honestly. The good news is that these features are indeed worth viewing. The "making of" piece is a nice historical retrospective of the film, with recently shot, on-camera appearances by nearly every cast and crew member except for Jack Nicholson. The near dozen deleted scenes are very cool, expanding on the characters and their complicated relationships. And everybody loves a trailer. But as this menu shot reminds you, there's nothing left to see on Disc Two -- please insert Disc One to continue.
Back on the first disc, you'll also find a commentary track with both producers of the film and the director. However, the conversation wasn't recorded in the same room, so it's spliced together at key points. Not such a bad thing, but unless you're a Hollywood know-it-all, then you'll be forced to guess the identity of all speakers except Michael Douglass, who most can pick out with their ears.
The commentary is good, the documentary and deleted scenes are great, but the lack of anything else worthwhile is what ultimately denies this excellent DVD from receiving an Editor's Choice award. But please don't let that discourage you from picking it up, as it's still an excellent treatment of a classic film.
Albuquerque Little Theatre was founded in 1930 by a group of civic-minded citizens led by Irene Fisher, a reporter and the society editor for the New Mexico Tribune. The idea of a local Theatre group was born when Ms. Fisher attended a lecture by a professional actress named Kathryn Kennedy O’Connor, who moved to New Mexico for health reasons in 1927. Ms. Fisher led the campaign to raise an operating budget of $1,000 and Ms. O’Connor was hired as the Theatre’s Director.
ALT spent its first six years at the KiMo Theatre in downtown Albuquerque. In 1936, ALT moved into its present home located at 224 San Pasquale SW, just south of the historic Old Town section of Albuquerque. The original building, designed by famed southwestern architect, John Gaw Meem, was the first structure in Albuquerque to be built by the Works Progress Administration as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal.”
O’Connor retired as the Theatre’s director in 1961, and the board named Bernard Thomas to succeed her as ALT’s full-time director. “Bernie” served from 1961 to 1980 he retired from ALT in 1980 after the 50th anniversary season. He was replaced by his technical Director, Michael Myers, who served as producing director until 1986 when Sandy Brady replaced him Carol Fleming was then named General Manager in 1988. She stayed with ALT until 1996. In March 1997, Larry D. Parker was appointed Executive Director of Albuquerque Little Theatre, and he continued to produce quality theatre through the 2005-06 Season.
In 2006, The Executive Director position was eliminated and divided into two separate management areas Artistic Director (Peter Kierst) and Managing Director (Erin Moots). Peter and Erin launched the 2006-07 Season with excitement and a commitment to keep ALT alive and well. 2007 also saw the talents of Theresa Reid at the helm.
In 2008, the theatre had an opportunity to bring extensive Broadway and community theatre experience to the ALT stage when Henry Avery was hired as Executive Director shortly after that appointment he was also named Artistic Director. Avery’s five decades of experience and commitment to live theatre have resulted in a new energy that infuses every aspect of ALT.
Our fascinating history also includes a number of celebrities. One of America’s most beloved TV personalities got her start at ALT, performing in our very first show in 1930. Vivian Vance went on to win the very first Best Supporting Actress Emmy Award ever given, for her role as Ethel Mertz on “I Love Lucy”. That coveted award is now proudly displayed in our lobby, a cherished gift to Albuquerque Little Theatre from Vance’s family after her passing. Many other celebrities have performed on our stage over the years, including Don Knotts, Bill Daily, Ann B. Davis, Nancy Kulp, and Maureen O’Sullivan just to name a few.
Vivian Vance (July 26, 1909 – August 17, 1979)
ALT continues the tradition of true community theatre by providing the residents of the greater Albuquerque area with great entertainment and the opportunity to become involved in the production of live theatre. A tax- exempt, 501c(3) organization, ALT involves more than 500 volunteers in activities ranging from box office, backstage, on stage, front of house, to Board and standing committee membership.
We have gone through all our records to create a list of every production we have presented since our opening season (1930-31). Have we ever done your favorite(s)?
Watch the video: One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest Promo - Mousetrap Theatre Inc (July 2022).