The cruel dictatorship of a nurse over the patients in a mental health institution is threatened by a newcomer. From this simple premise a masterpiece was born: One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest became an instant classic, winning six Golden Globes out of six nominations, a glorious sweep. At the 33rd Golden Globe Awards ceremony, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 26, 1976, Milos Forman's Cuckoo's Nest triumphed over Dog Day Afternoon, Jaws, Barry Lyndon and Nashville (whose directors were all nominated, including a young Spielberg). The winner must have really struck a chord with the HFPA, who immediately embraced this “protest film” against the permanence of “lunatic asylums” and the treatment of mental patients.
Jack Nicholson shined in the role of McMurphy, a convicted felon who pleads insanity to escape forced labor, and is sent to a ward for the mentally unstable; once there he endures and stands witness to the abuse and degradation of the oppressive Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). McMurphy and the other inmates band together to make a rebellious stance against the atrocious nurse.
Nicholson won the Globe for Best Actor over Gene Hackman (for The French Connection II) and Al Pacino (for Dog Day Afternoon). Fletcher won the Globe for Best Actress, and accepting her award she said: “I tried to make Nurse Ratched a human being, not a monster: she's genuinely trying to help her patients, but I'm afraid she gets drunk with her power, and things get out of hand. I apologize to everybody, and please believe me: I'm good, I'm not Nurse Ratched!” That’s how much her character was viscerally hated by the audience of this hugely successful film!
Czech Milos Forman shot the movie in a verité style at the Oregon State Mental Hospital in Salem. The film was produced by Michael Douglas, who won his first Golden Globe (and subsequently an Oscar). His win coincided with then-girlfriend Brenda Vaccaro’s first Golden Globe award (for Best Supporting Actress) for Once Is Not Enough. The couple was seated next to each other at the Golden Globes, next to dad Kirk Douglas, who acquired the movie rights in 1961 and then passed them on to his son, who developed the project, thus jump-starting his impressive Hollywood career.