6. Information Memorandum From the Assistant Director, Motion Pictures and Television Service, United States Information Agency (Scott) to the Acting Director (Kopp)1


  • Prestige Film Showing in Warsaw

American Embassy Warsaw Press and Cultural Counselor James Bradshaw reported January 26 (Warsaw 0617–C)2 on the highly successful and effective showing of the feature film ONE FLEW OVER THE [Page 18] CUCKOO’S NEST3 (United Artists) January 25 in Warsaw. The host was Charge d’Affairs Carroll Brown. The audience of “more than 500 invited guests. . . . included many distinguished representatives of government, media, and the arts. Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Romauld Spasowski, Chief of the Foreign Minister’s cabinet Alojusz Bartoskek and many foreign ambassadors were present”.

The Embassy reports it was flooded with calls for invitations to the screening and “many who had been unsuccessful showed up at the theater anyhow, and after everyone else was seated, those at the door were allowed to stand at the rear of the theater or sit in the aisles”. The Polish and diplomatic audience heaped “superlatives” on the film, not only for its artistic merit (“This film should get all the Oscars in the world”), but (in the Embassy’s judgment) for “. . . its deeper philosophical implications,” which were readily grasped by the audience and characterized by an important Polish film director who said, “This is a film about us. You have to be from this part of the world (referring to film director Milos Forman) to make such a film—in America”.

Aside from the impressive effect of CUCKOO’S NEST on the audience as a cinematic tour de force, the Embassy foresees a “multiplier effect” in pressure on the Polish authorities to obtain the film for public showing. The anticipated refusal of Polish authorities to import it for public release would “demonstrate another dimension to the Polish (government) claims about importing so many Western films: that such acquisition is selective and politically regulated and not determined by any artistic merit”.

The Embassy has followed this message with a new request, to show the film at a second invited program for Polish psychiatrists. Permission has been requested from United Artists.4

CUCKOO’S NEST was obtained by IMV as part of a continuing program in cooperation with the motion picture industry and the Motion Picture Association of America to provide important feature films for ambassadorial screenings, principally in East Europe and Peking.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 306, Office of the Director, Executive Secretariat, Secretariat Staff, Correspondence Files, 1973–1980, Entry P–104, Box 113, 7700600–7700609. Limited Official Use.
  2. Attached but not printed.
  3. Reference is to the Oscar-award winning 1975 film, starring Jack Nicholson and Louise Fletcher, based on the 1962 novel written by Ken Kesey.
  4. In telegram 660 from Warsaw, January 27, Bradshaw stated that Brown had proposed an additional screening of the film to accommodate members of the Polish Psychiatric Association and others unable to attend the first screening of the film. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770029–1171)