Monday, 13 May 2013

Classic Movie Review: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

Uplifting but also Disturbing this is one of the greatest of all Hollywood Movies!
 One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) Poster

Early in his career the great Jack Nicholson, gave us this stellar performance in what must be, one of the greatest films of the 70's that Hollywood gave us. Jack stars as McMurphy. The Character of McMurphy has a criminal past and has once again gotten  into trouble with the law. So what does he do?. Simple he pleads insanity to avoid jail and gets sent to a mental institution. In this institution he experiences the harsh realities of what happens in these places. He witnesses the abuse and general disregard for the patients, all this lack of care is lead by Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). McMurphy views Ratched as a tyrannical dictator who does not like anyone changing anything, or looking out for the patients. So he tries to help his fellow inmates and overthrow Nurse Ratched.

Nicholson's performance in this film is brilliant to endure, he starts off not caring at all for any of these guys, he looks out for number one and tries to exploit them, he come across selfish and uncaring. After witnessing the hold that Ratched has on his fellow inmates, he changes his mind about them, the character changes, even going as far as taking the guys out on a fishing trip, after hijacking the institutions bus. In Nicholson fashion when he lets loose with his temper, wow does he chew the scenery, nobody else could play this part, Nicholson always has fire and intensity in his performances, just like his roles later in his career, like in The Shining that I also reviewed. He is backed up by a superb cast which includes many other actors who also went onto further great future roles too.

We have with us young Danny Devito and Christopher Lloyd. It was amazing seeing Devito play a role like this because later on he seemed to play comedy characters so this was a breath of fresh air seeing him play someone in a institution, as for Lloyd, he does what he does best playing unhinged characters, he can just flip like a coin between insanity and normality. His character sort of reminded me of his character Jim in the classic sitcom "Taxi". My favorite character by far has to be Chief played by Will Sampson, Chief is a a big native American who does not speak yet becomes McMurphy's best friend, McMurphy changes him, Chief never did anything or listen to anyone yet McMurphy manages to get him to partake in Basketball of all things, but is Chief all that he seems?.
Talking about Baketball them scenes are wonderful to watch, a joy to see these people change and partake with McMurphy. With the help of McMurphy the inmates get up to some right hijinks, its brilliant seeing what they get up to, not just the fishing trip, but even sneaking women in. But underneath all the profanities, tomfoolery and live-wire antics we witness, there is a lot of human emotion, which come across as truly touching and effecting. The Cinematography attempts to match the general grittiness of the movie, there is no bright colors, this film is shot in what can only be described as a white dullness, which I believe matches the tone perfectly, if the film was all bright it just would not fit the tone, it needs to be dull and gritty to convey the message the film is putting across.

Louise Fletcher's performance as Nurse Ratched is just one of the most evil in cinema history, she puts in an amazing performance, when we first meet her we think oh shes just helping, but my god do we change our minds. She is tyrannical and such a controller in this place, its like crossing paths with her is like shaking hands with Lucifer himself!. Fletcher seems to have a look in her eyes that would make even the most cynical and hardened of all men fall to their knees and whimper like a puppy wanting his mother, yes she is that scary.

The ending will leave you stunned, speechless and will stay with you forever. This film is just so sentimental, funny yet tragic and sad at the same time. This film swept the Oscars with wins of Best Picture, Best Actor (Nicholson), Best Actress (Fletcher), Director, and Screenplay. All I can say is they are fully deserved, do yourself a favor and watch one of the greatest tragic yet also touching cinema masterpieces ever made.
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