One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest
This is kept rigorously on an even keel until the tragedy is precipitated by a night of carousing. The opening scenes project the style of The Fireman’s Ball, then come the preparations, Let There Be Light, A Child Is Waiting, Captain Newman, M.D., The Hill, Marat/Sade and reportedly Titicut Follies.
The main basis is a significant recomposition of Cool Hand Luke, which is itself derived from Mister Roberts and I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang. The Christ motif is shifted to the fishing lesson, Candy and Rose are the two girls in Luke’s photograph, the Chief is Dragline (and Ensign Pulver), but also Queequeg, so that the ending also reflects the conclusion of Moby Dick (the image is directly from The Devils).
Most of the analysis has been provided by other directors, George C. Scott in Rage, Michael Ritchie in The Couch Trip (the discovery of Billy and Candy by Nurse Ratched occurs in Henry Koster’s A Man Called Peter).
Truffaut describes the situation, “When a man makes himself ridiculous by his stubborn insistence on striking a certain pompous pose, whether he is a politician or a megalomaniac artist, we say that he has lost sight of the bawling baby he was in his crib and the groaning wreck he will be on his deathbed.”
Aaron Copland couldn’t get financing for a grand opera. So we have The Rake’s Progress.
In New York they think Susan Sontag is the Statue of Liberty (she leads an ape in hell), a great monument.
Forman has lavished every resource of genius on the musical that, according to professionals, killed Broadway.
The cinematography alone is worth the price of admission.
The Bukowski awakening.
Cf. as precedent Super Chicken: The Wild Hair.
This is Shaffer’s work entirely, Griswold’s Poe avenged, Forman takes the cue for the treatment in a sumptuousness of period detail made habitable by the actors.
The burlesque of Mozart’s life (cf. Beckett on Mörike) must rise to the diapason of his Haydn quartets, for example. Old Salieri tells the tale from an insane asylum, his Italianate courtliness comes to the fore as he recounts his version of a silly ass who is a genius.
Ken Russell is primarily considered as sine qua non, a joke from Lisztomania (“Gluck?” “A bore.” “Handel?” “I don’t like him.”), the scenic projection at the opening of The Devils (for the Commander—note the seashell footlights—the Queen of the Night, etc.), the silent dancers in Mahler and so forth.
Bergman’s The Magic Flute shows up in the last-mentioned scene as telescoping flats at the back of the rehearsal, he or Bertolucci (1900) has the sort of surrealism that promotes the vaudeville horse fed simple provender and excreting dinner like the bread machine in The Rake’s Progress (the milieu suggests GBS the drama critic observing Voylet’s curtain calls). Harris’s Pollock remembers the line, “I can’t rewrite what’s perfect,” out of Baudelaire.
Milton Babbitt was invited by the faculty of a music school to share the stage, Salieri’s rum-ti-tum was all around his Philomel.
Late in the film’s initial run at Westwood, with an impressive lobby display, a full matinee house on a weekday stayed to the last of the end credits.