Brad Dourif received his first Oscar nomination for portraying Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.
Dourif is always good as part of the crowd and adds well to the atmosphere of the hospitality. He is quite good in showing that Billy is one of the men who most idolizes McMurphy as well as consistently being facinated by McMurphy's presence in the hospital. He adds well to showing how much of an effect really McMurphy has on the other patients by showing Billy being genuinely curious as well as somewhat inspired by McMurphy's defiant attitude toward Nurse Ratched. Dourif though always stays back though as he should, because although he is most certainly impressed by McMurphy, he still is very much unable to stand up for himself.
Dourif is very much a likable presence in the film and gives a rather honest portrait as the very meek Billy Bibbit. Dourif body language and his stutter are both handled very well. He does not overplay either aspect and they feel like an performance, but rather genuine aspect of Billy that actually helps amplify his personality. Dourif perfectly conveys just how shy and retiring Billy is, as well as he effectively conveys how troubled Billy is as well. Although we never see her Dourif is able to show in just a few short moments by the fear, and anguish in Billy's face that this has been caused by his his own mother.
Although I won't say that Dourif really sticks out all that much through most of the film as this is Jack Nicholson's show from almost beginning to end, Will Sampson as Chief has the end, but Dourif really should not be. All of the other men are suppose to be smaller men than McMurphy who is properly made the focus by Nicholson's incredible performance which I must say after watching him again he is now neck and neck with Pacino for me just like all of his runner ups in the 70's. Anyways Dourif fits in with the other men properly and creates with the other actors effectively create the environment of the film as well as show the impact of McMurphy.
Dourif though near the end of the film though does have a moment all his own after Billy loses his virginity due to McMurphy's idea of using his prostitute girlfriend for the task, but Nurse Ratched catches him with the woman and threatens to tell his mother. Dourif is heartbreaking in this scene because he at first shows Billy as far more outgoing person who possibly can break out of his constant fears, but when threatened he reverts completely. Dourif is terrific when Billy pleads Ratched not to tell his mother bringing to life the intense terror Billy faces over knowing what will happen if his mother were to find out. He screams of pain are truly moving as Billy completely falls apart into tragic despair. This is a strong work by Dourif and this final scene of his is great which makes a very substantial impact on the film. I won't say Dourif's is the most memorable performance in the film, but I would say his performance is certainly a memorable performance from the film.