One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest
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One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: Special Edition (Dbl DVD)
A nice rest in a state mental hospital beats a stretch in the pen, right? Randle P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), a free-spirited con with lightning in his veins and glib on his tongue, fakes insanity and moves in with what he calls the "nuts." Immediately, his contagious sense of disorder runs up against numbing routine. No way should guys pickled on sedatives shuffle around in bathrobes when the World Series is on. This means war! On one side is McMurphy. On the other is soft-spoken Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher), among the most coldly monstrous villains in film history. At stake is the fate of every patient on the ward. Based on Ken Kesey's acclaimed bestseller, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest sweptall five major 1975 Academy Awards: Best Picture (produced by Saul Zaentz and Michael Douglas), Actor (Nicholson), Actress (Fletcher), Director (Milos Forman) and Adapted Screenplay (Lawrence Hauben and Bo Goldman). Raucous, searing and with a superb cast that includes Brad Dourif, Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd in his film debut, this one soars.]]>
The two-disc special-edition DVD offers a great-looking anamorphic 1.85:1 print and 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack. Disc 2 has the trailer, about 13 minutes of deleted scenes (mostly from the first third of the film, and all pretty good), and a making-of retrospective documentary with interesting material from producers Michael Douglas (who inherited the rights from Kirk) and Saul Zaentz, director Milos Forman, screenwriter Bo Goldman, and many cast members (though not Jack Nicholson). There's also a commentary track by Forman, Douglas, and Zaentz that repeats a few things from the documentary but also goes into more scene-specific detail about the development and shooting. --Kim Newman
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- Commentary by director Milos Forman and producers Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz, and a theatrical trailer, both of which appear on the 2002 two-disc DVD and all current Blu-ray releases.
- Deleted scenes, which appear on Blu-ray.
- New 87-min. documentary, 'Completely Cuckoo,' which can be found here and on the Collector's Edition Blu-ray. This is essentially an expanded version of the 47-min. documentary put out with the two-disc DVD, recut with input from novelist Ken Kesey (who was notably absent from the earlier piece).
- New interview with Michael Douglas, again common only to the Collector's DVD and Blu-ray.
- Transfer looks to be the same as that taken from the 2001 restoration and is, contrary to Amazon's claim of a 1.33:1 aspect ratio, anamorphic widescreen.
- Also included are a hardbound book filled with extensive production notes, stills and behind-the-scenes photographs; a reproduction of the original pressbook; lobby cards featuring poster artwork; character photo cards; and a deck of cast-inspired playing cards.
While certain of the components here are superfluous (playing cards, I'm looking at you), it is a very attractive package for completists, and for those who agree that 'Cuckoo,' as a unique and valued contribution to American cinema, deserves the royal treatment. 5 stars for the film, 4 1/2 for presentation.
The cast excels in their portrayal: Martini ogling the nude on the card McMurphy shows him, Cheswick shaking his head during the 'therapeutic' Harding-related talk or speaking out to Nurse Ratched (apt name, probably even more apt if spelt W-r-e-t-c-h-e-d) for his cigarettes, the dialogue between the male nurse and McMurphy when the latter is trying to teach the Chief basketball, the Chief's studied expression, McMurphy stirring up the ward while pretending to watch the World Series on a TV that is off, Harding getting picked on by Taber and Sefelt, Taber getting a burning cigarette in his trousers' cuff, the fishing trip with the doctors from the State Mental Institution, Turkle getting bribed into a fine mess, the secret bonding between McMurphy and Chief Bromden.... __SUPERB__ cast, story, pace.
The poignant end makes the movie itself therapeutic and all the more worthy of acclaim.