(out of 5)
After being sentenced to jail for contributing to the delinquency of a minor, Jack Nicholson convinces the authorities that he is crazy enough to serve his sentence in a mental institution instead of prison. When he gets there, he is put under the care of a nurse (Louise Fletcher) who is severe to the point of making prison inmates seem less threatening. Nicholson does his best to liven the place up with his boisterous personality, plus survive with his own sanity intact, but Fletcher is at him at every turn to make sure she keeps him firmly in line. A fascinating drama highlighted by rich characters and a marvelous screenplay, expertly directed by Milos Forman and performed with exceptional skill by its leads as well as its budding supporting cast. Danny DeVito, Christopher Lloyd and Brad Dourif (earning himself an Oscar nomination) all make early career appearances, while Nicholson, Fletcher, Forman, screenwriters Bo Goldman and Laurence Hauben and producers Michael Douglas and Saul Zaentz all picked up Oscars for their work (it’s one of only three films to win all five major Academy Awards).
Directed by Milos Forman
Cinematography by Haskell Wexler
Music by Jack Nitzsche
Production Design by Paul Sylbert
Costume Design by Aggie Guerard Rodgers