One might be tempted to dismiss 1977's I Never Promised You a Rose Garden as a gender-reversed retread of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, but the movies share very little aside from its setting and a few thematic ideas. Plus the film was based on a rather popular book by Hannah Green, an autobiographical tale of attempted suicide, horrific schizophrenia, and frequent trips to a rather unpleasant mental hospital.A very young (and already very talented) Kathleen Quinlan stars as Deborah, a psychologically haunted girl who, after tearing a huge gash through her wrist, winds up in the safe (but not very friendly) confines of a looney bin. It's there that Deborah must contend with alienation, isolation, a few fairly freaky new neighbors, and an ever-continuing series of amazingly bizarre "visions," all of which involve large groups of screaming men who brandish clubs and spears and such. (The way in which Deborah's delusions crash right through the sets is a fairly fascinating approach; generally this sort of narrative shard is presented via "straight" dream sequence.)
We're basically flies on the wall as Deborah gets accustomed to her new surroundings, slowly learns to trust her caregivers, and make the first tentative steps toward recovery -- but Rose Garden is not so much "plot-driven" as it is a character piece / breakout role for Ms. Quinlan. She's a great actress nowadays, and this flick works as proof that she started out pretty darn excellent to begin with.
Eagle-eyed movie geeks should have a good time sifting through the Rose Garden background, because it's there you'll find familiar faces like Susan Tyrrell, Lorraine Gary, Reni Santoni, and several others. Look closely during the final few minutes and you'll find Dennis Quaid and Clint Howard, too. Fun stuff.