One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

Thursday, April 25th at 7:30 PM

Winner of five Academy Awards®, including Best Picture

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest

1975 / UA/Fantasy Films

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest was released in 1975 to critical and popular acclaim. It garnered the top five Academy Awards®: Best Film, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress. Only two other films have accomplished that: It Happened One Night (1934) and Silence of the Lambs (1991). The story of a "free spirit" clashing with a "control freak" is a classic sixties theme of man against the system.

Ken Kesey, author of the 1962 best-selling novel, became the godfather of the hippie movement after he and his Merry Pranksters were profiled in Tom Wolfe’s The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test. That non-fiction book chronicles a group of hippies as they follow The Grateful Dead around, spiking Kool-Aid with LSD and serving it to concert-goers. Kesey wrote One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest while working at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Menlo Park, California. "Yes, McMurphy is fictional," Kesey said, speaking of the novels protoganist, "inspired by the tragic longing of the real men I worked with on the ward, the sketches of whom, both visual and verbal, came more easily to my hand than anything before or since, and those sketches gradually enclosed for me the outline of the hero they wanted. And yes, I did write the book both on the ward and on drugs, double checking my material so to speak."

Director Milos Forman (Ragtime, Amadeus), said that he directed the film in a naturalistic style. "I was fascinated just to see real faces on the screen. That’s what cinema verite, like Titticut Follies (1967), taught me." With that goal in mind, Forman, at the request of Dr. Dean R. Brooks, the head of the Oregon State Hospital, cast 89 real patients as extras. Brooks appears in the film as Dr. Spivey, the head of the institution. Forman and the cast and crew lived at the hospital for weeks prior to shooting.

Forman originally wanted Burt Reynolds to play McMurphy but the studio wanted a critically acclaimed actor, so Jack Nicholson got the nod. Most of the other cast members were unknown at the time. It was Christopher Lloyd’s (Taber), Brad Dourif’s (Billy), and Will Sampson’s (Chief) first film, and William Redfield’s (Harding) last. He died of cancer six months after filming. Louise Fletcher, chilling in her portrayal of Nurse Ratched, says that she can no longer watch the film because her character is so disturbing. It is perhaps no coincidence that her hair resembles the horns of the devil.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest had its premiere at the 1975 Chicago Film Festival (with Robert Ebert included in the audience in the 3,000-seat Uptown Theatre). Despite going radically over budget, the film was both a critical and commercial success, with a reputation now firmly cemented as one of the classics of 1970s cinema.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest

The film will be introduced by former LA Times entertainment reporter Susan King, now curator of the popular Los Angeles Times Classic Hollywood Facebook page.

Saturday, July 13, 2019. Doors open at 6:30

A Special Event Fundraiser

Thanks for the Memories!

Thanks for the Memories

The Glendale Historical Society & the Alex Film Society, in association with Glendale Arts, join forces to celebrate the Jewel City’s unique connection to Hollywood, its studios and the stars that called Glendale their home. Whether it’s Marion Morrison (AKA John Wayne) playing football at Glendale High School or Clarence "Ducky" Nash entertaining kids as the voice of Donald Duck at Fremont Elementary School, their lives added to the magic of Hollywood’s Golden Era.

Celebrate nearly a century of classic films screened at the Alex Theatre on Brand Boulevard, and pay tribute to the other theatres (The Capitol, Temple, Cosmo, Sands, Vogue, etc.) that once lined the street on both sides. Explore a Silent Film Era that was really never silent and learn about the musical cues that introduced the heroes, villains, lovers and comic legends that thrilled audiences around the world. Move on to the Sound Era with award-winning two-reel comedies, travelogues and short subjects that provide a backdrop for Glendale-centric history and personalities.

The Evening includes a No Host Bar, Live Music and historical photo displays. A little history and a lot of rare footage make for an exciting, one of a kind, event.

Our Master of Ceremonies: Adam Felber of Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!


Adam Felber

In addition to being a regular panel member (and occasional guest host) of the popular NPR radio quiz show, Adam Felber is an American political satirist, author, radio personality, actor, and humorist. His television writing credits include Real Time with Bill Maher, Talkshow with Spike Feresten, Arthur, The Smoking Gun, and Wishbone. He and Paula Poundstone co-host the podcast Nobody Listens to Paula Poundstone, a comedic advice show.

Note: This is a special engagement. AFS free ticket vouchers, passes and member discounts are not applicable for this event.