6. Nurse Ratched
Played By: Louise Fletcher
Movie: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Mildred Ratched's title says "nurse," sure, but she's more of a tyrant than a candy-striper. In director Milos Forman's excellent adaptation of Ken Kesey's already superb 1962 novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Nurse Ratched (played with stone-cold malevolence by Louise Fletcher) gets off on emotionally terrorizing the misfit patients living in her psychiatric ward. She's sick with power, knowing full well that the mentally impaired crazies under her control are helpless against her tactics.
Initiated by rebellious newcomer Randle McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), the patients have a fun night of debauchery, with alcohol and a couple of McMurphy's female friends. Ratched, having caught them red-handed, pinpoints the stuttering Billy (Brad Dourif) for her wrath: She tells Billy that his mother will find out about what he did, touching a heartbreaking and fear-inducing nerve. And she knows it. Shortly after, Billy commits suicide. And Ratched couldn't care less. —MB