One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)



Critic Consensus: The onscreen battle between Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher serves as a personal microcosm of the culture wars of the 1970s -- and testament to the director's vision that the film retains its power more than three decades later.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Videos & Photos

Movie Info

With an insane asylum standing in for everyday society, Milos Forman's 1975 film adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel is a comically sharp indictment of the Establishment urge to conform. Playing crazy to avoid prison work detail, manic free spirit Randle P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is sent to the state mental hospital for evaluation. There he encounters a motley crew of mostly voluntary inmates, including cowed mama's boy Billy (Brad Dourif) and silent Native American Chief Bromden (Will Sampson), … More

Rating: R (N/A)
Genre: Drama, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Bo Goldman /Lawrence Hauben, Bo Goldman, Lawrence Hauben
In Theaters:
On DVD: Dec 9, 1997
United Artists


as Randle McMurphy

as Nurse Ratched

as Chief Bromden

as Martini

as Billy Bibbit

as Col. Matterson

as Dr. John Spivey

as Jim Sefelt

as Bancini

as Nurse Itsu

as Washington

as Beans Garfield

as Harbor Master

as Charlie Cheswick

as Night Supervisor

as Ellsworth

as Hap Arlich

as Charlie Cheswick

as Woolsey

as Nurse Pilbow

as Frederickson

as Ruckley

as News Commentator
Show More Cast

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Critic Reviews for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

All Critics (58) | Top Critics (9)

Nicholson explodes on the screen in a performance so flawless in timing and character perception that it should send half the stars in Hollywood back to acting school.

Full Review… | February 23, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

There's a lot here. But with a classic like Cuckoo's Nest, too much is never enough.

Full Review… | September 9, 2010
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic

One Flew over the Cuckoo 's Nest is an earnest attempt to make a serious film. But in the end the movie backs away from both the human reality and the cloudy but potent symbolism that Ken Kesey found in the asylum.

Full Review… | February 20, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Viewed 30 years after its release, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest remains a very good motion picture, although one that perhaps just misses the pinnacle of greatness where its reputation suggests it resides.

Full Review… | November 4, 2008
Top Critic

Jack Nicholson stars in an outstanding characterization of Ken Kesey's asylum anti-hero, McMurphy, and Milos Forman's direction of a superbly-cast film is equally meritorious.

Full Review… | February 19, 2008
Top Critic

Jack Nicholson plays McMurphy as if he were born to it, and the supporting cast provides fine, detailed performances.

Full Review… | December 13, 2006
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

At first, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest would seem a depressing film. The setting is a mental institution. The colors are drab. The milieu is bleak. Many of the patients look unkempt wearing robes. This is most assuredly a condemnation of psychiatric institutions as an emblem of compassionless bureaucracy. The chronicle contributed to the departure of electroshock therapy from mainstream mental health care for example. However Randle is a strong-willed individual bucking the system. He represents hope in a place where there seemingly is none. He can snare an audience with a cocked eyebrow and a winking glance. He charms the patients in the asylum like he does the viewer. His foil is the equally strong-willed Nurse Ratched, an emasculating presence portrayed by Louise Fletcher. The two play a game of one-upmanship while we sit and watch, basking in the glory of their finely tuned characters. That the atmosphere can go from tense to hilarious to unrelentingly grim, all in the same scene is a tribute to the script by Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman. Their screenplay highlights the complexity of the dual nature of the narrative. It builds to an emotionally shattering conclusion that could either be considered the saddest or the most inspiring ending in the history of film.

Mark Hobin

Super Reviewer

Jack Nicholson in his grandest form. Nobody does it better. The winner of five Oscars including Best Picture of 1975

Mister Caple

Super Reviewer

Jack Nicholson steering up shit in a mental institution is one of the greatest films of the 70s and maybe his best performance among so many outstanding ones. The gripping story can rely on great acting down to the smallest parts, Fletcher creates one of the most hate-worthy "villains" of all times. A funny, tragic, depressing and hopeful gem.

Jens S.

Super Reviewer

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest Quotes

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