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High-def Watch

Get the latest Blu-ray/DVD reviews and info for upcoming titles. And, we’ll sprinkle in some hot HDTV news.

It’s enough to make you crazy


 

“ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST: 35th ANNIVERSARY ULTIMATE COLLECTOR'S EDITION”

Blu-ray widescreen and DVD widescreen, 1975, R for language, violence and brief nudity

Best extra: “Completely Cuckoo,” the 87-minute standard-def documentary not seen in its entirety since the good old laserdisc days more than 15 years ago. It had been truncated to only 47-minutes on the previous Blu-ray and DVD making this “Ultimate Collector's Edition” worth the upgrade.

OKAY, THIS IS getting ridiculous. This is the third or fourth title I've reviewed this month that Warner Bros. has released without an uncompressed audio option. “Cuckoo's Nest” is one of the most beloved films of the ‘70s, if not one of the greatest films of all time. It won all five major awards at the Oscars (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay). Doesn't that merit lossless audio? Many Blu-ray buyers may pass on this release because of this shortcoming, especially since it is another double dip.

The previous Blu-ray was featured in Warner Bros. snazzy digibook packaging with bios and pictures. The picture quality was wonderful but the lossy audio track was disappointing.

Now we get a $50 box set that includes a 52-page commemorative hard-bound book, a reproduction of the original press book, a 52-card deck of cast-inspired playing cards, four mini-reproductions of original worldwide theatrical posters and cast/character photo cards. All these items that jack up the price are neat but unnecessary. At the end of the day they have nothing to do with the Blu-ray we're paying for.

This new edition offers the exact same audio/video quality – a very nice hi-def transfer and a low-grade audio. So, what exactly are we paying for here?

The biggest addition to this set is the long-demanded “Completely Cuckoo” documentary that tells the whole creation-to-film story, from Ken Kesey discussing writing the book on drugs during the graveyard shift at a mental health facility in California, to legendary actor Kirk Douglas optioning the book and stage production and Douglas’ son Michael finally getting the story to the silver screen. It’s filled with interesting tidbits about the film's production, which was shot at an Oregon State Hospital, utilizing many of the hospital's staff and patients.

Also, there’s a new 30-minute documentary “Asylum: Empty Nest for the Mentally Ill,” that’s only in standard-def with recent interviews with Douglas and Dr. Dean Brooks, who ran the Oregon hospital and appears in the movie as a character in the same position.

Extras from the previous Blu-ray, which include a commentary from director Milos Forman and producers Douglas and Saul Zaentz and a selection of deleted scenes, are also carried over.

Being a huge fan, it’s difficult not to recommend this beautiful package. I'm disappointed that a major studio continues to skimp on audio options for the second time, even though the quality transfer and extensive supplements help this box break even.

— Josh Boone

Posted to: Drama Josh Boone Oscar winner

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