For Your Consideration

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Shock Corridor is one of the more bizarre films set in a mental hospital. Your choices for what we’ll show on Tuesday 5 December are between three more films set in similar institutions. Up for the vote are...

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Milos Forman, USA, 1975)

“This is far from a one-man show, and indeed, even the non-speaking parts make an indelible visual impression. As direct and simple as it is funny and moving, this is a masterpiece of dramatic naturalism.” - Colin Kennedy, Empire

With an insane asylum standing in for everyday society, Milos Forman's 1975 film adaptation of Ken Kesey's novel is a comically sharp indictment of the Establishment urge to conform. Playing crazy to avoid prison work detail, manic free spirit Randle P. McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) is sent to the state mental hospital for evaluation. There he encounters a motley crew of mostly voluntary inmates, including cowed mama's boy Billy (Brad Dourif) and silent Native American Chief Bromden (Will Sampson), presided over by the icy Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). Ratched and McMurphy recognize that each is the other's worst enemy: an authority figure who equates sanity with correct behavior, and a misfit who is charismatic enough to dismantle the system simply by living as he pleases.

 

Spellbound (Alfred Hitchcock, USA, 1945)

“The firm texture of the narration, the flow of continuity and dialogue, the shock of the unexpected, the scope of image—all are happily here.” - New York Times

Dr. Constance Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) is a psychiatrist with a firm understanding of human nature—or so she thinks. When the mysterious Dr. Anthony Edwardes (Gregory Peck) becomes the new chief of staff at her institution, the bookish and detached Constance plummets into a whirlwind of tangled identities and feverish psychoanalysis, where the greatest risk is to fall in love. A transcendent love story replete with taut excitement and startling imagery, Spellbound is classic Hitchcock, featuring stunning performances, an Academy Award®-winning score by Miklos Rozsa, and a captivating dream sequence by Surrealist icon Salvador Dalí.

 

Titicut Follies (Frederick Wiseman, USA, 1967)

“The result is an extraordinarily candid picture of a modern Bedlam, where the horrors are composed of indifference and patronizing concern. The concern of the filmmakers, however, and of the men who originally allowed the film to be made, is very real indeed.” - Vincent Canby, New York Times

Documentary legend Frederick Wiseman made his debut with this controversial 84-minute survey of conditions that existed during the mid-60s at the State Prison for the Criminally Insane in Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Made in 1967, the film was subjected to a worldwide ban until 1992 because the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that it was an invasion of inmate privacy. The film goes behind the walls to show stark and graphic images exposing the treatment of inmates by guards, social workers, and psychiatrists. The title refers to a musical revue staged by inmates and guards.