Mi­los For­man di­rected “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”

The Daily Courier - - FRONT PAGE -

LOS AN­GE­LES (AP) — Czech film­maker Mi­los For­man, whose Amer­i­can movies “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus” won a del­uge of Academy Awards, in­clud­ing best di­rec­tor Os­cars, died Satur­day. He was 86.

When For­man ar­rived in Hol­ly­wood in the late 1960s, he was lack­ing in both money and English skills, but car­ried a port­fo­lio of Cze­choslo­vakian films much ad­mired in­ter­na­tion­ally for their quirky, light­hearted spirit. Among them were “Black Peter,” “Loves of a Blonde” and “The Fire­man’s Ball.”

The or­phan of Nazi Holo­caust vic­tims, For­man had aban­doned his home­land after com­mu­nist troops in­vaded in 1968 and crushed a brief pe­riod of po­lit­i­cal and artis­tic free­dom known as the Prague Spring.

After his first U.S. film, 1971’s “Tak­ing Off,” flopped, For­man didn’t get a chance to di­rect a ma­jor fea­ture again for years. He oc­cu­pied him­self dur­ing part of that time by cov­er­ing the de­cathlon at the 1972 Olympics for the doc­u­men­tary “Vi­sions of Eight.”

Ac­tor Michael Dou­glas gave For­man a sec­ond chance, hir­ing him to di­rect “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest,” which Dou­glas was co-pro­duc­ing.

The 1975 film, based on Ken Ke­sey’s novel about a mis­fit who leads mental in­sti­tu­tion in­mates in a re­volt against au­thor­ity, cap­tured ev­ery ma­jor Os­car at that year’s Academy Awards, the first film to do so since 1934”s “It Hap­pened One Night.”

The win­ners in­cluded Jack Nichol­son as lead ac­tor, Louise Fletcher as lead ac­tress, screen­writ­ers Bo Gold­man and Lawrence Hauben, For­man as di­rec­tor and the film it­self for best pic­ture.

For­man re­turned to top form in 1984 when he re­leased “Amadeus.”

Based on Peter Shaf­fer’s play, it por­trayed 18th cen­tury mu­si­cal ge­nius Wolf­gang Amadeus Mozart as a foul­mouthed man-child, with lesser com­poser Salieri as his shad­owy neme­sis. It cap­tured seven Academy Awards, in­clud­ing best pic­ture, best di­rec­tor and best ac­tor (for F. Mur­ray Abra­ham as Salieri).

Hunt­ing for lo­ca­tions, For­man re­al­ized Prague was the only Euro­pean cap­i­tal that had changed lit­tle since Mozart’s time, but re­turn­ing there ini­tially filled him with dread.

Other movies di­rected by For­man in­clude “Hair,” “Rag­time,” “Man on the Moon,” and “The Peo­ple Vs. Larry Flint,” for which he re­ceived a third Academy Award nom­i­na­tion.

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