By the time Jack Nicholson starred in Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (R, 133 mins., 1975), he was on a magical run. After Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, The Last Detail, and Chinatown, he’d become the ideal leading man for the Vietnam/Watergate era. No one could sniff out phonies or flip the bird at authority with the same cocked-eyebrow cunning. But madhouse merry prankster R.P. McMurphy remains the greatest character in the bunch. Based on Ken Kesey’s 1962 novel, Cuckoo’s Nest kicks off as Nicholson’s hell-raising McMurphy is transferred to a grim mental hospital for evaluation. He isn’t insane, though, just crazy like a fox, inciting the ward’s sedated patients against Louise Fletcher’s Nurse Ratched, a prim sadist beneath a serene smile. There’s never a doubt who’ll win — after all, the film is a product of the downbeat ’70s. But Nicholson’s live-wire performance turns what could have been a standard movie malcontent into a martyr. Cuckoo’s Nest swept all of the top categories at the 1975 Oscars, giving Nicholson his first statuette. Another went to a 31-year-old Michael Douglas, who produced the film after his father, Kirk, toiled for years to get it made before giving up. That compelling, byzantine backstory is told by many of the players (sadly, Jack’s a no-show) on the new Ultimate Collector’s Edition’s EXtras. The rest of the deluxe DVD and Blu-ray’s goodies are a mix of old (a lively commentary from the filmmakers, some deleted scenes) and new (a fresh interview with Douglas, doodads like playing cards and posters). There’s a lot here. But with a classic like Cuckoo’s Nest, too much is never enough. A
ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST Jack Nicholson Will Sampson are mad, mad they tell you (Everett Collection)
Posted September 17 2010 — 12:00 AM EDT
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