Winter time has a funny way of making people a little crazy. Every year when old man winter rolls around it seems everyone is just a little off. Examples might include your neighbor who appears to have developed a slight nervous twitch since the last time you spoke or friends who seem to disappear for days at a time because they just can’t seem to get out of bed in the morning. This is all very common and should not be cause for alarm. Sometimes it’s ok to be a little off, a little nutso, slightly batty, some may even go so far as to call it crazy. The best thing to do is embrace these feelings of desperation and unbearable self-pity. It’s good for you. Take a day to do nothing but sit around the house watching movies about people in similar and possibly worse mental states than you. Then get your ass out of bed and get on with it.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest is the quintessential mental hospital movie. Based on a novel written by Eugene, Oregon’s own Ken Kesey, this film is about a man who attempts to get out of working in jail by acting crazy, which unfortunately gets him committed. Jack Nicholson earned an Academy Award for his role as Randle Patrick McMurphy and Louise Fletcher also won for her role as the horrible Nurse Ratched. McMurphy thinks that he can liven up the asylum by playing basketball games and having a party but all he manages to do is piss off Nurse Ratched. The film becomes a battle of wills between McMurphy and Ratched and is not to be missed.
Girl Interrupted is based on Susanna Kaysen’s account of her 18-month stay in a mental hospital in the 1960’s. Winona Ryder and Brittney Murphy star in the film along with real life psycho Angelina Jolie. This work tries very hard to be in the vein of “The Bell Jar” and “The Catcher in the Rye”, both of which have become rites of passage for many young people. It is very good, albeit a little depressing, but that is the point of watching movies about mental illness, I suppose. Winona Ryder usually turns my stomach, but in this film she has a bearable quality. I also recommend this film for the soundtrack, which has songs like “Downtown” and “Angel of the Morning” that are hot, hot, hot.
What list of films involving crazy people would be complete without the original “Funny Girl” Barbara Streisand? In the film Nuts
Babs plays a high-class call girl, or in layman’s terms an expensive prostitute, who is on trial for murder. Her character is fighting for the right to stand trial even though she is mentally incompetent. Her court appointed attorney is played by Richard “but I was in Jaws” Dreyfus who happens to be the only person who can get through to Babs. The fact that someone would cast Barbara Streisand as any kind of sex worker at all is enough of a reason to watch this movie.
The final film on this list is a personal fave, Suddenly Last Summer.
The film stars Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn and Montgomery Clift. Taylor plays Catherine, a young woman who spent the previous summer on vacation with her cousin Sebastian in the place of his mother, Mrs. Venable (Hepburn).
At the end of their trip the native boys mysteriously murder Sebastian and Cathy appears to go a little mad.
Luckily, Mrs. Venable is financing the addition to the local mental hospital and is more than happy to get Cathy a bed and, actually, Mrs. Venable is steaming with jealousy because Cathy went on the summer trip in her place. She blames Cathy for Sebastian’s death. The truth behind his murder is almost as good as the famous beach photo of Taylor in her white bathing suit.
Have a great weekend with these movies and remember to take your lithium.