Today! Because I must be crazy to be in a loony bin like this –
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)
Directed by Milos Forman
Starring Jack Nicholson (x4), Louise Fletcher (x3), Brad Dourif, Will Sampson, Scatman Crothers (x3), Danny DeVito (x5), Vincent Schiavelli (x5), Christopher Lloyd (x4), Michael Berryman, Peter Brocco, Sydney Lassick, Louisa Moritz, Mews Small, William Redfield
I was already well familiar with the movie by the time I read Ken Kesey’s book, which is a very different Cuckoo’s Nest experience, and then later Dale Wasserman’s play – which bears more similarity to the movie, but is sort of a neat hybrid of the two. Kesey famously hated the direction the movie went, because again, that book is wildly different, even as it tells basically the same story, but both are pretty great in their own ways.
The movie, however, does win out in the end, being the absolute cinematic classic that it is. And the whole thing came together as it did by a lot of luck – Kirk Douglas had starred as McMurphy on Broadway in the early ’60s and held the rights, only to age out of the role and pass the producing onto his son Michael, opening the door for Nicholson to come on board. That casting delayed the film, due to other Nicholson projects, which also roundabout-ly caused Lily Tomlin to vacate the Nurse Ratched role, picked up by Louise Fletcher, who subsequently dropped out of the epic pre-production on Robert Altman’s Nashville, in the role that ultimately Lily Tomlin ending up jumping into (Part of the reason Tomlin’s Linnea has deaf children in Nashville is because Louise Fletcher was fluent in sign language, having been born to deaf parents!). I think I have all that right, pulled together through various sources and my muddled memory.