One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

The comic energy and tragic weight of Jack Nicholson’s unforgettable lead performance make this a classic of 70s cinema.

Stills must not be reproduced, copied or downloaded in any way.

Film details


Adapted from Ken Kesey’s novel, the film centres on Randle McMurphy (Nicholson), a convict who simulates mental illness in the hope that a transfer to a psychiatric hospital might ensure his early release. But he hasn’t bargained on the rigid regimen of Nurse Ratched (Fletcher, also superb), who dislikes his disruptive – though he’d say liberating – effect on the ward.

Inspired casting (Danny DeVito, Brad Dourif and Christopher Lloyd are among the patients) and Forman’s naturalistic direction lend authenticity to the proceedings, so that the film succeeds both as an anti-authoritarian parable and as an affecting reminder of the psychiatric practices of the past.

Cast & Credits

Sight & Sound logo

The Greatest Films of All Time 2012

Voted for by 4 critics and 11 directors.

See who voted for One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest

Back to the top