Randle Patrick McMurphy, a prisoner whose term is nearly over, decides to have himself declared insane so he'll be transferred to a mental institution, where he expects to spend the rest of his time in peace.
McMurphy becomes ensnared in a number of power-games with Nurse Ratched for the hearts and minds of the inmates. All the time, however, the question is in the mind as to just how sane any of the players in this actually are. Eventually McMurphy overplays his hand and he is lobotomised.
Kesey's novel raises a number of interesting questions about the nature of the state and power structures and could be interpreted on a number of allegorical levels.
The film was widely acclaimed and won Academy Awards for Best Actor for Jack Nicholson (who played McMurphy), Best Actress for Louise Fletcher (who played Nurse Ratched), Best Direction for Milos Forman, as well as Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. It ranked number 20 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 greatest American films, and consistently ranks in the top 15 on the Internet Movie Database. However, some mental health advocates have criticized the film for having unrealistic portrayals of mental hospitals and mental illness.
The film has been deemed "culturally significant" by the Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.
See Also: List of movies - List of actors - List of directors - List of documentaries - List of Hollywood movie studios