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HTF REVIEW: "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" Special Edition (with screenshots) (1 Viewer)

Ronald Epstein

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One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
Special Edition




Studio: Warner Brothers
Year: 1975
Rated: R
Film Length: 133 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16X9 Enhanced Widescreen (1.85:1)
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish




One of the truly best drama movies ever made, One
Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest is the kind of film
that never wears thin after repeated viewings. It
was the film role that Jack Nicholson was born to
play and still remains the defining role of his
career.
Based on the novel by Ken Kesey, co-produced by
Michael Douglas, and directed by Milos Forman,
this is a story of Randle Patrick McMurphy (Jack
Nicholson) who is transferred from a prison work
farm to an Oregon state mental hospital for 90
days of psychiatric observation. The hospital's
administrator doesn't know what to think of this
man. Is McMurphy crazy or is he just here to get
out of work detail?

In the hospital he runs up against his ward's boss,
nurse Mildred Ratched (Fletcher). She appears nice
but dominates, bullies and humiliates the men and
sadistically crushes any initiative. McMurphy and
Ratched lock horns many times, but the nurse has
an advantage: McMurphy is committed while the other
patients are voluntary. That means if Nurse Ratched
can provoke him to a violent outburst, McMurphy
would become a candidate for electro-shock therapy or a
lobotomy.

Besides Nicholson's stellar performance that won
him a Best Actor Oscar, the film shines with its
supportive cast of newcomers that went on to make
successful careers for themselves. There's
Harding (William Redfield), who fancies himself an
intellectual; Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif), a stuttering,
confused kid; Cheswick (Sidney Lassick), a fidgety
and neurotic fellow; Martini (Danny De Vito), a
childish good-natured simpleton; Taber (Christopher
Lloyd), a fearsome looking disruptive chap; Chief
Bromden (Will Sampson), a giant deaf-mute Indian.
The movie contains so many memorable moments that
it is easy to see why it won Best Picture that year.
Whether it's McMurphy trying to teach the chief
basketball, or trying to coax his fellow mental
patients into voting on watching the World series,
or even an escapee fishing trip -- this film so
greatly bases itself on themes of defiance in the
face of oppressive


One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest arrives in
a brand new two-disc special edition. A cardboard
slipcover contains a pull-out that opens to a
3-pane gatefold. Two DVDs (labeled A and B) sit
in plastic hub housing that sit above a 2-pane
photo of the Chief and the water dispenser. The
far left pane contains a complete Scene Index
from the film. On another pane sits the same sort
of index listing for the documentary on Disc B.
How is the transfer?
Throw your old copy out!
To greatly appreciate just how good this new
transfer is, you need only to look at the original
1997 DVD release. My God! It is so littered with
film blemishes and scratches that you just shudder
with the thought of something like that being
released on DVD. Face it, folks, this was the kind
of crap that early adopters like us were subjected
to. Picture is blurred, colors are obnoxiously
off (especially in the overly red flesh tones), and
there's video noise to be seen everywhere. If
that wasn't enough -- it wasn't even an anamorphic
transfer.
With all of that out of the way, one can truly
appreciate this brand new anamorphic digital
transfer from restored elements. What you notice
right off the bat is that the print is in immaculate
condition. No film blemishes or scratches to be
seen here. The whites are, well, white. The
transfer is much brighter, extremely more detailed
with noticeable black levels, and flesh colors
are dead-on accurate. There's still a small amount
picture noise that gets exhibited mostly in the
white walls of the mental institute, but those
levels are low enough to be ignored. Yes, folks,
this is night and day over the old transfer.
The only bit of the film that still comes across
as a bit blurry and faded is the fishing trip.
But you know what? I think that is just the way
it originally looked.
I am a bit at odds over the 5.1 remastered
Dolby Digital soundtrack. This is really a
dialogue driven film. Most of the time, the
center speaker becomes the main focal point with
all the actor's dialogue eminating from it.
The front channels give nice stereo separation
to the film's musical interludes. While it's
certainly nice to have the rears come into play,
they don't do it often. Most of what I heard
consisted of the medication music as well as
the sounds of sea gulls and the boat's engine
during the infamous fishing trip sequence.
The film has never sounded more detailed on any
format than it does here.
Special Features

Disc A contains the entire film in
addition to a feature-length commentary
by Director Milos Forman, Producers Michael
Douglas and Saul Zaentz. It took me a while
to figure this out, but none of these guys are
in the room together during this commentary.
The commentary consists of separate interviews
all thrown together in one. This, of course,
makes the commentary lose all its spontaneous
energy making it more rigid. We learn right off
the bat that because of the book's reputation, it
became very difficult to find a hospital that
would allow the crew to film in. A deal was
struck with the Oregon State Hospital in
exchange for its patients being used. Milos
explains how nervous he was about the many
therapy sessions he filmed, being that it was
mostly dialogue. Forman decided to use multiple
cameras to spice up these scenes with reaction
shots. Douglas and Zaentz talk about the task
of casting the Indian role, and how they ultimately
found Wil Sampson. Douglas goes on to further
describe the audition process that was done in LA
and NY, and how the final process of selecting the
right actor for the part was done. Of course, you
would expect that Michael Douglas was most proud
of the infamous "juicy fruit" scene. A fairly
good commentary for what it is -- and not nearly
as good for what it isn't -- a group effort.
An included cast and crew area only
lets you selected upon a limited number of
principle cast members and filmmakers, bringing
up a complete filmography of their careers.
There are 5 pages dedicated to the many, many
Awards that this film had received in 1975.

Now let's go to Disc B and check out the
Supplemental area...

Making of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest
seems to be the same documentary that had existed
on Special Edition product prior to DVD. It begins
with Producer Michael Douglas talking about how
his father, Kirk Douglas, fell in love with the
original book -- so much so, he bought the rights
to it and transformed it into a play. Though it
received critical criticism, Kirk did not give up
his efforts with the book he fell in love with.
He approached Director Milos Forman about making
a film about the book. In an interview with Mr.
Forman, he explains how it took 10 years to get
the book in his hands. The documentary further
explores how no studio would touch the script
and how that resulted in Douglas and team having
to make a low-budget picture. It's amazing to
find that Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman and Burt
Reynolds were original choices to play R.P.
McMurphy before Nicholson was finally selected.
It's interesting to note that actresses such
as Angela Lansbury and Geraldine Page all turned
down the role of Nurse Ratched. Louise Fletcher
talks about the many rejections she received from
Milos before she was given the part. And how was
the big Indian Will Sampson found? Wait till you
hear this great story about a car dealer who
found the perfect player for the role. You see,
Milos was more interested in casting unfamiliar
faces for the roles of the mental patients. Danny
Devito recalls the auditions that he and his fellow
cast members went through. Filmed at the Oregon
State Hospital, the actors spent much time there
getting an idea of what it felt like to be
hospitalized -- actually living in their own cells.
The actors never got out of character, which made
it difficult for the residents of the institution
to figure out who was really mental and who was not.
There are lots of home movies taken at the hospital
during this time period giving us a real sense of
how these actors prepared for their roles. This
is just an amazing documentary -- one of
the very best I have recently seen.
There are eight additional scenes included
with this DVD. They include:
* McMurphy conversing with Dr. Spivey. The good
doctor reads off the many blemishes on McMurphy's
record.
* The chief, in huge white pajama bottoms, gets
trapped between two mops that the custodians
taunt at him.
* The chief gets strapped down in a chair and shaved.
* During a card game, McMurphy poses the question
as to who the top looney really is.
* As Murphy shows his fellow patients the dirty
pictures on the back of the playing cards, Nurse
Ratched summons him, introduces herself and
welcomes himself to the ward.
* McMurphy joining the gang for breakfast without
his pants on.
These scenes, played together in entirety, run just
over 13 minutes. The condition of these clips are
rather poor with lots of dirt blemishes, cuts and
scratches. Still, it's just amazing to see more of
this film almost 30 years later.
(length: approx. 47 minutes)
Finally, we have the film's original theatrical
trailer.
Final Thoughts
Throw your old DVD out -- go ahead, you have
my permission.
Warner Brothers has finally done justice to
a classic film that deserves much respect as
one of the best movies of our time. This is
one DVD that belongs in the collection of every
movie enthusiast.
At an on-line price of about $20, you can't
pass this up. If you do, you're nuttier than
the characters portrayed in this film.
Release Date: September 24, 2002
 

Gordon McMurphy

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I love this movie so, so much. I am so grateful to Warner Bros. Home Video for this beautiful DVD edition.

Great review, Ron.


G.C. Morrice
 

ChrisMatson

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Dec 14, 2000
Messages
2,181
I rented the original DVD over a year ago. It was the first time I saw the movie.

I loved this film and I'm looking forward to adding the new DVD to my collection.
 

R. Kay

Second Unit
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May 11, 1999
Messages
308
According to DVDFILE, the documentary on the 2nd disc is the same doc from the Special Edition Laserdisc, chopped in half (45 minutes from the LDs 90 minutes).

Oh well. Great movie, though!!

PS: RON: How much does that license plate cost you a year?
 

JohnE

Supporting Actor
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Jan 1, 2001
Messages
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I'm so happy.:emoji_thumbsup: This is one of my favorite movies, and the original release just didn't do it justice. Can't wait to get my hands on this new edition.
 

Rain

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Sounds like this one might be the high point of the WB SE batch!

Good news. I couldn't watch the original disc.
 

Christopher_J_F

Stunt Coordinator
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Jan 23, 2002
Messages
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According to DVDFILE, the documentary on the 2nd disc is the same doc from the Special Edition Laserdisc, chopped in half (45 minutes from the LDs 90 minutes).
Does anyone else hear the Jaws theme in their heads?
That's really a shame, not that I would have gotten rid of Pioneer SE LD set anyway... ;)Talk about a beautiful set w/ unique packaging!
Anamorphic ability aside, I wonder how this new transfer compares with the SE LD's...
Oh well, at $20 the dvd's a no brainer!
(It's gonna be an expensive day...)
 

Tim RH

Second Unit
Joined
Nov 20, 2001
Messages
375
I wonder why they cut the documentary down in length; there should have been plenty of room on Disc Two for the full thing. The other Warner SEs coming out that day have more bonus features than this one (expect for maybe Amadeus).
 

Doug_B

Screenwriter
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Feb 11, 2001
Messages
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Thanks for the review Ron. I've been waiting for this since the first day I owned my DVD player (knowing the previous DVD was subpar).
 

Juan C Toro

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jul 23, 2001
Messages
119
Ron:

A bit of Critical Criticism: In your review, didn't you mean: "critical reviews"... this is call, if I remember correctly my ESL classes, a redundancy...

Thanks for the review.

Juan Carlos
 

MatS

Screenwriter
Joined
Jan 24, 2000
Messages
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this is a no brainer glad it has finally received the treatment it so deserves. :emoji_thumbsup:
now if only Dog Day Afternoon could be treated in the same fashion
 

Rob Tomlin

Senior HTF Member
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Jan 8, 2000
Messages
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Sweet! Glad to see Warner is still putting out great transfers.

Another of my all time favorites is finally being done right on DVD.

The prior DVD was so bad I couldn't even consider purchasing it (rented via Netflix).

This is a definite purchase!
 

TonyD

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well i guess ill try to find a copy of the laser. i waited because i thought the dvd would contain the full doc.
 

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