CATEGORIES On the Scene

It's extremely rare for a film to win all five major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director and Screenplay. 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' in 1975 became only the second film to do so, and the feat didn't get repeated until 1991 when 'The Silence of the Lambs' won all five. Some would argue that it is even more impressive that the film is as good as the Ken Kesey book it was based upon, while also honoring the story but maintaining its own unique voice.

Kesey wrote the book after working the graveyard shift as an orderly at a mental health facility in Menlo Park, California. He became sympathetic to those interned there, and that inspired him to write a novel from a patient's viewpoint. Although he worked in California, Kesey hailed from Oregon and set the story in his home state. The book is written from the point-of-view of Chief Bromden, a silent Native American inmate, but the protagonist is Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson).

It's extremely rare for a film to win all five major Academy Awards: Best Picture, Actor, Actress, Director and Screenplay. 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' in 1975 became only the second film to do so, and the feat didn't get repeated until 1991 when 'The Silence of the Lambs' won all five. Some would argue that it is even more impressive that the film is as good as the Ken Kesey book it was based upon, while also honoring the story but maintaining its own unique voice.

Kesey wrote the book after working the graveyard shift as an orderly at a mental health facility in Menlo Park, California. He became sympathetic to those interned there, and that inspired him to write a novel from a patient's viewpoint. Although he worked in California, Kesey hailed from Oregon and set the story in his home state. The book is written from the point-of-view of Chief Bromden, a silent Native American inmate, but the protagonist is Patrick McMurphy (Jack Nicholson).

Location as Character: The film, directed by Milos Forman, focuses more on McMurphy's point-of-view than Bromden's. It is his story and that is what makes Oregon State Hospital a perfect background. Two-thirds of the inmates there have been found guilty of a crime, but are deemed mentally insane -- just like McMurphy, who was convicted of statutory rape.

It's heavily implied that McMurphy is not actually insane, only pretending to be to avoid the hard labor in prison. He's anti-authoritarian, and this causes him to butt heads with the iron-fisted head nurse Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher). The battles between the two, and Ratched's domination of the asylum, are the most critical parts in the story, which again makes Oregon State Hospital a fitting location since it's been criticized for questionable ethics and patient care.

Historical Significance: In 1993, the United States Library of Congress deemed 'Cuckoo's Nest' "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. They added it to the list not only because it is one of the most critically lauded films ever produced, but it's also emblematic of the time period. Three years prior to the film's release, Geraldo Rivera became known nationally for exposing the mistreatment of mentally handicapped patients at Staten Island's Willowbrook State School. McMurphy is also symbolic of the anti-authoritarian air of the '60s and '70s.

Fun Fact: Reportedly, the McMurphy role was first offered to Marlon Brando, James Caan, Gene Hackman and Burt Reynolds prior to Nicholson's taking the part, which earned him his first Oscar.

Directions: Around the corner from the State Department of Corrections sits this "beauty" on 2600 Center St. NE, Salem, Ore. 97301.

Visitor Info: It is still an operating hospital -- with dangerous inmates -- so you can't just go skipping around there anytime you want. Call the Oregon State Hospital Communication Center at 800-544-7078.