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