Magazine article America in WWII

Catch-22

Magazine article America in WWII

Catch-22

Article excerpt

Directed by Mike Nichols, written by Buck Henry front the novel by Joseph Heller, starring Alan Arkin, Martin Balsam, Richard Benjamin, Art Garfunkel, Jack Gilford, Buck Henry, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins, Paula Prentiss, Martin Sheen, Jon Voight, Orson Welles, Bob Balaban, Charles Grodin, 1970, 121 minutes, color, rated R.

FLUSH WITH THE SUCCESS of his first two features, Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf? and The Graduate, director Mike Nichols set out to tackle Joseph Heller's blackly comic antiwar novel Catch-22, a sprawling, episodic book that many considered unfilmable. And many still felt that way after seeing Nichols's film. But the years have been kind to Catch-22, and the movie deserves a reassessment.

Like the book, the movie centers on B-25 bombardier Yossarian (Alan Arkin). Stationed on an Italian island and under the command of mercurial Colonel Cathcart (Martin Balsam), Yossarian seeks to be declared crazy and get grounded. But, as Doc Daneeka (Jack Gilford) explains, while you must be crazy to want to fly combat missions, anyone who asks to be grounded must be sane and therefore wouldn't get grounded. "That's Catch-22," he says. That bit of fractured logic has entered the cultural lexicon and perfectly captures Heller's view of bureaucratic institutions like the military.

Yossarian isn't the only misfit in the squadron. Orr (Bob Balaban) keeps ditching his planes in the sea. Milo Milobender (Jon Voight) is the spirit of capitalism run amok as he trades parachutes and morphine for goods he barters elsewhere--even to the Germans. Nately (Art Garfunkel) dotes on the Roman prostitute he loves but remains naive about life's bigger issues. Even poor Doc can't catch a break. In order to receive credit for flying time, he places his name on the manifest of a plane that later crashes, and as a result, everyone acts as though he were dead; paperwork trumps reality. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.