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

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ronald Epstein, Sep 9, 2002.

  1. Ronald Epstein

    Ronald Epstein Founder

    Jul 3, 1997
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    Real Name:
    Ronald Epstein

    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
    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
    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
    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
    * 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
    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
  2. Gordon McMurphy

    Gordon McMurphy Producer

    Aug 3, 2002
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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
  3. ChrisMatson

    ChrisMatson Cinematographer

    Dec 14, 2000
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    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.
  4. oscar_merkx

    oscar_merkx Lead Actor

    Apr 15, 2002
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    another one to pick and thanks for the review Ron
  5. R. Kay

    R. Kay Second Unit

    May 11, 1999
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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).

    Oh well. Great movie, though!!

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

    JohnE Supporting Actor

    Jan 1, 2001
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    I'm so happy.[​IMG] 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.
  7. Rain

    Rain Producer

    Mar 21, 2001
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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.
  8. Christopher_J_F

    Christopher_J_F Stunt Coordinator

    Jan 23, 2002
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  9. BrianP

    BrianP Supporting Actor

    Dec 8, 1999
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    Definetely purchasing this one and keeping my LD boxset.
  10. JonZ

    JonZ Lead Actor

    Dec 28, 1998
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    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  11. NickFoley

    NickFoley Stunt Coordinator

    May 5, 2002
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    Great Review. Cant wait to get this in my hands. [​IMG]
  12. Tim RH

    Tim RH Second Unit

    Nov 20, 2001
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    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).
  13. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

    May 19, 2002
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    Great review. Thanks, but this begins to cost me money.
  14. Doug_B

    Doug_B Screenwriter

    Feb 11, 2001
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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).
  15. Juan C Toro

    Juan C Toro Stunt Coordinator

    Jul 23, 2001
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    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
  16. Ray H

    Ray H Producer

    Jun 13, 2002
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  17. MatS

    MatS Screenwriter

    Jan 24, 2000
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    this is a no brainer glad it has finally received the treatment it so deserves. [​IMG]
    now if only Dog Day Afternoon could be treated in the same fashion
  18. Rob Tomlin

    Rob Tomlin Producer

    Jan 8, 2000
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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!
  19. Patrick McCart

    Patrick McCart Lead Actor

    May 16, 2001
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    Georgia (the state)
    Real Name:
    Patrick McCart
    Perhaps some of the interviews were retained by Republic, who I think produced the SE LD set.
  20. TonyD

    TonyD Who do we think I am?

    Dec 1, 1999
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    Gulf Coast
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    Tony D.
    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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