One Flew Over the
Cuckoo's Nest


Dir: Milos Forman
Starring: Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher, Brad Dourif, Sydney Lassick

If anyone was born to play a lunatic, it's Jack Nicholson. Even here, where only pretending (the loony bin being preferable to jail), he's certainly convincing as he sets alight the drugged, lobotomised, shock-treated inmates under the harsh oversight of Nurse Ratchet (Fletcher). By the end, the borderline between his fake insanity and genuine anti-social i.e anti-authoritarian - specifically, anti-Ratchet - behaviour is hard to tell, even as he pays the ultimate price. Can't knock a supporting cast including early roles for Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd, but special praise to Fletcher in her role as tyrant of the wards Ratchet. Her performance is a good deal more subtle than Nicholson's, yet is the perfect foil for it. While there are certainly plenty of memorable scenes, such as Nicholson's re-enactment of the 1963 Baseball World Series (Dodgers swept the Yankees, should you want to know the final result!), Forman has a nasty tendency to keep things going on for longer than is interesting. The fishing trip is a good example, and I confess to dozing off for moments here and there (hey, it was Sunday afternoon, and the pillows were looking particularly fluffy). If thus not quite deserving the Oscar-sweep conferred, it's still a striking example of the thin line between sanity and madness, and how, in an asylum, anything can be seen as a symptom.

B-


Mad, bad and dangerous to know
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