New Year's Eve, back in the days of yesteryear, used to be a time for family movie marathons. We'd stay up late and watch some classics and some contemporary movies to prepare ourselves for a new year and for the New Year's Day Twilight Zone marathon. One year, I can't remember when, we watched the classic One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and forever had I been in love with it. Instantaneous love. A perfect movie from start to finish. Every character, every performance and every last second is just utter brilliance. I had this very poster on my wall for many many years and still would, if it weren't completely destroyed and chewed up from moving from my parents house to my first apartment, back to the parents house and to my second apartment and now, somewhere in a pile of posters.
The single thing that makes Cuckoo's Nest so perfect is the acting. It's 100% on the actors and the ensemble cast is nothing short of perfect. From Jack Nicholson's flawless performance of Randolph P. McMurphy to Scatman Crothers bit part as the nightwatchmen Turkle to Louise Fletcher as the blisteringly harsh Nurse Ratched and the litany of amazing actors as the rest of the hospitalized "nuts", not one part is weaker than the other. They all play off of each other and it creates an amazing atmosphere that is authentic. Here is one emotionally charged scene that forever stays as one of my all time favorite movie moments.
McMurphy's resolve to get out of jail and be sent to the hospital is very interesting. Thinking he might be better off in such a facility proves to not be true. Although he has more freedom, this proves to make matters worse for his lust for life. This ends up being a futile attempt at some freedom as ultimately, he ends up worse off than he was in prison. The atmosphere is sometimes whimsical, but mostly hostile leaving McMurphy susceptible to more folly and more threats to his well being. Is he crazy? Is he not? Should he be in prison or in an institution? Who knows for sure. We just know that the journey he embarks on is one of the best to watch.
What it boils down to is that I can only think of five movies that have consistently been enjoyable to watch and rewatch. Most of these have landed in the Top 5 spot of my all time favorite movies list, but not many movies can boast this ability. It's also one of those movies that I wish I was able to see on the big screen. Something about older films that just need to be watched on the big screen versus a TV. If you see any screenings of this movie, let me know where it is.
Acting, acting, acting. Yet another movie that made me want to be an actor. This scene is one of those ones that made me want to be one:
Jack Nicholson was my favorite actor when I was a kid. The Joker in the original Batman movie put him there, but Cuckoo's Nest would solidify this. It sent me on a search for all things Jack. He was an idol of sorts. I can't say that there are many actors that I go out of my way to see all of their movies. Maybe five (Bogart, Hoffman - Dustin & Phillip Seymour, Bale & Nicholson.)
All in all, Cuckoo's Nest has been a definite driving force in my life. It's a movie that never ceases to amaze me in it's greatness. It's yet another classic that I will pass along to people I meet if they haven't seen it and to a family that maybe someday I will formulate.
1. Cinema Paradiso (1988) dr. Giuseppe Tornatore
2. Rushmore (1998) dr. Wes Anderson
3. Jurassic Park (1993) dr. Steven Speilberg
4. It's A Wonderful Life (1946) dr. Frank Capra
5. Trust (1990) dr. Hal Hartley
6. Donnie Darko (2001) dr. Richard Kelly
7. On The Waterfront (1954) dr. Elia Kazan
8. Monty Python & The Holy Grail (1975) dr. Terry Jones & Terry Gilliam
9. Do The Right Thing (1989) dr. Spike Lee
10. Stop Making Sense (1984) dr. Johnathan Demme
11. Trekkies (1997) dr. Roger Nygard
12. Fight Club (1999) dr. David Fincher
13. The Sting (1973) dr. George Roy Hill
14. Ghost Busters (1984) dr. Ivan Reitman
15. This Is Spinal Tap (1984) dr. Rob Reiner
16. Better Off Dead (1984) dr. "Savage" Steve Holland
17. Robin Hood (1973) dr. Wolfgang Reitherman
18. Mad Max (1979) dr. George Miller
19. One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975) dr. Milos Forman
Up Next: Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade (1989)