Section One

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Qualcuno Volo’ Sul Nido del Cuculo (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
Jack Nicholson
Unidentified artist c. 1975

The manic face of Jack Nicholson in an Italian poster for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest encapsulated that wicked wink-and-grin personality that brought the actor cult status as the prototypic antihero of film. In the 1975 dramatization of Ken Kesey’s best-selling novel, Nicholson played a minor offender who tried to outwit prison officials by pretending to need psychiatric care. The movie swept the Oscars, winning all of the major awards, including Nicholson’s first for Best Actor.

The counterculture appeal of this political allegory is captured by the vivid poster graphics. Showing Nicholson during a pivotal scene, the expanding boxes suggest the pulsating trauma of electrotherapy and the lobotomy used to quell his rebellion. The style alludes to minimal and pop art, including the Benday dots of Roy Lichtenstein, as well as to the pervasive influence of the Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up of 1966.