Although he seems to show no signs of mental illness his wayward behaviour earns him the enmity of the stern Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). The hard-faced Nurse Ratched is the stuff of nightmares - an impassive, softly-spoken exterior masking a vindictive interior.
Most of the minor actors have gone on to bigger and better things - especially Christopher Lloyd and Danny DeVito. It's a credit to the actors that at the time of its release many people thought they were real life patients. Fletcher and Nicholson both stand out - with a career-making performance from him and an understated, subtly evil turn from her.
The film has been parodied a million times (The Simpsons and Spaced for instance), so much so that even people who have never seen it will be familiar with its themes. The hospital looks so much like a Nazi prison camp that as a viewer you start to feel the oppression yourself. It is almost impossible to come away from this film without feeling a great deal of anger and even loss.
It won five Oscars - for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay (from the novel by Ken Kesey) and Best Actress (Fletcher) and Actor (Nicholson) and it is difficult to argue with the Academy's decision. This is a really great film.
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