I loved jack Nicholson in Something’s Gotta Give, I liked him in the Bucket List , in Shining, in Wolf, in The Departed, even in Batman. I did not in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest , released in 1975 and directed by Milos Forman. This movie left me uneasy. It was moving and emotional towards the end, but it took such a looooong time to get there!!
McMurphy hopes he can get out of doing time in prison by pretending to be mad and is sent to a mental asylum. He seems at first the unpleasant guy taking advantage of the fragile patients – running cards game and taking everyone’s money and cigarettes, but evolves as someone who cares, which is also why he starts challenging Nurse Ratched. The story with Billy, both during the therapy session and at the end was very sweet – what I found a bit shocking though McMurphy being fairly understanding with the patients, while having absolutely zero respect for the women in general, and Candy in particular. Granted, she is a prostitute, but I was shocked by the way he and the guard treat the two girls during the party at the hospital. His main attempt to try and “wake up” the mentally ill patients is at the beginning: “But I tried, didn't I? Goddamnit, at least I did that”, and is linked directly to the end, where everyone is better off for having known him.
I may have a bias against Jack Nicholson, he genuinely looks crazy in general, and I am guessing it is probably one element that bothered me. That said, the end is heart-breaking.
I liked the Indian guy, aka the Chief, particularly when he starts talking.
It was strange: I never saw it coming that he would end up being one of the main characters of that movie. But I have learned since then the movie is inspired from a book by Ken Kesey, that tells the story from the Chief’s point of view. Being seemingly deaf and stupid, I could not really understand at first why McMurphy took such an interest in him. At the end, though, it is obvious. It’s good that the Chief gets the last word, so to speak.
Nurse Ratched is as unpleasant as expected, her calm contrasting very well with McMurphy (Nicholson)’s livelihood. Clearly, his arriving at the asylum marks the end of her dominance, and it is clear she does not appreciate the improvement in the patients’ therapies. Seems the actress, Louise Fletcher, did not do much after that film, appearing mainly in TV shows such as Heroes, Private Practice, ER, etc…
Finally, I was pleasantly surprised to see actors Danny DeVito and Christopher Lloyd (unforgettable Doc in Back to the Future) play two patients.
All in all, likely a must-see, but it took me a very long time to get into the movie. Too long.