Oddly, much of the narrative involves several activities which are quite entertaining and even hilarious. For example, somehow McMurphy manages to flee the asylum with the other inmates, arranging so that he and they can take a day cruise with some of McMurphy's "friends." Of course the inmates thoroughly enjoy themselves. He also organizes basketball games in which the key player is Chief Bromden (Will Sampson), a Native American who never speaks and who seems to be at least ten feet tall. But there are other moments which are quite serious, indeed tragic. Brad Dourif deserved his nomination for an Academy Award for supporting actor (in the role of Billy Bibbit) and all others in the supporting cast are also first-rate. When I first saw this film, the character Martini caught my eye so I waited for the credits to learn the name of the actor who played him: Danny DeVito.
Nicholson and Fletcher are brilliant. I've always thought hers to be the more difficult role because it places more limits on her talents than Nicholson's does on his. Stated another way, the McMurphy part gives Nicholson more opportunities to use those remarkable talents. Also, Nicholson's personality seems comparable with McMurphy's in certain respects (e.g. spontaneous, impish, confrontational, playful, quick-witted) whereas it is inconceivable to me that, other than gender, Fletcher and Ratched have anything in common.
Kirk Douglas has never missed an opportunity to say how proud he is of son Michael's career and especially of what he achieved as producer of this film. Yes, those are the sentiments of a father but Kirk Douglas has also had a very distinguished career of his own as a producer, director, and actor. He understands better than does almost anyone else what is required to create a great film such as this.
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