n excellent adaptation of Joseph Heller’s classic anti-war satire, ‘Catch-22’ is set during the U.S. occupation if Italy during ‘World War II’ and tells the story of young bombardier; Captain John Yossarian, his increasingly desperate attempts to get out of the war and the way in which an elusive, bureaucratic obstruction known as ‘Catch 22’ always seems to get in his way.
“There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one's own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions.”
An incomparable anti-war satire Joseph Heller’s book is one of the greatest novels ever written and ‘Catch-22’ is an adaptation that works in the best possible way, personally, I think the aim of a good adaptation isn’t about finding a quick way to get out of reading the book, a good adaptation will work as a standalone movie whilst also building up the viewer’s interest to go out and discover the source material for themselves. Some people felt that Alan Arkin wasn’t the right choice to play Yossarian (as he’s supposed to be young and Arkin seemed too mature) however, I reckon Arkin’s timid demeanour makes Yossarian’s switch to confused mania all the more striking and adds a whole new twist on the character, different from the book no doubt, but nonetheless interesting in it’s own way. Alan Arkin has always been one of my favourite actors, as he can subtly switch from serious drama to well-timed, comic absurdity without even trying, and with an oddball cast that includes Orson Welles, Martin Sheen, Anthony Perkins (great as Chaplin Tappman), Jon Voight and Art Garfunkal among others. ‘Catch-22’, the film, was always going to be as out there or as “dangerously sane” as the novel itself.
"They're trying to kill me," Yossarian told him calmly.
"No one's trying to kill you," Clevinger cried.
"Then why are they shooting at me?" Yossarian asked.
"They're shooting at everyone," Clevinger answered. "They're trying to kill everyone."
"And what difference does that make?"
Screenwriter Buck Henry and director Mike Nichols manage to capture most of the themes in Heller’s novel quite well, ideas about guilt, sophistory, the madness and meaningless nature of conflict are all bought to the forefront, though they could’ve even gone a little further to incorporate a few more of the book’s classic lines, more of an explanation about the fate of Martin Sheen’s Clevinger and statements about the out and out insanity of breeding the heartless, marauding, mechanised-love-child of military might and corporate greed. And If there’s any justice in the world; than ‘Fox News’ should come crashing down under the weight of its own propaganda-fuelled prejudice and be replaced with a continuous broadcast of ‘Catch-22’, which should keep playing until the last pro-war person realises the delusional, misguided stupidity of their imposed and controlled sense of freedom, the pre-determined choice made for them by people who’ve ideologically conditioned the masses to believe that patriotism somehow relates to militarism and oppression, or that loving your country has got something to do with unquestioning, tight-lipped loyalty to a roomful of crusty suits who’d sooner spit-lick an oil rig than have to kiss one of your babies for another term in office.
“To anyone who questioned the effectiveness of the loyalty oaths, he replied that people who really did owe allegiance to their country would be proud to pledge it as often as he forced them to”
The movie also focuses on the adolescence of U.S. Corporate Culture, personified by Milo Minderbinder (well played by a young Jon Voight); a callous opportunist who happily plants the seeds of a dystopian harbinger that blossoms to reveal the full extent of its’ insidious origins and disturbing plans for the future. Milo’s ‘M&M Enterprises’ sell soldier’s parachutes for silk and trades in art stolen by the Nazis (an eerie parallel with the recent Iraq war, in which some guy from ‘Fox News’ tried to sell stolen artefacts from the Baghdad museum on e-bay) Milo’s a company man whose been in cahoots with the powers that be since day one, engaged in all kinds of deals which culminate in one of the most poignant and relevant scenes in the entire film; when the allies bomb their own base and kill an innocent U.S. solider in the process “we’re running this mission for the Germans” shouts Minderbiner as a trio of bombers reign fire all around.
“Catch-22 did not exist, he was positive of that, but it made no difference. What did matter was that everyone thought it existed, and that was much worse, for there was no object or text to ridicule or refute, to accuse, criticize, attack, amend, hate, revile, spit at, rip to shreds, trample upon or burn up.”
‘Catch-22’ illustrates how war and the pursuit of empire is a folly for the few at the expense of the many, and in the end; it’s only big-businesses, timorous bureaucrats and duplicitous politicians who prosper, everybody else doesn’t matter, and those who feel that they’re burdened by a thing called conscience, well then they should make a break, a strong conscientious objection, and even if all they have is a rubber Dinghy and a spoon; to someone who hates war, every chance holds a possibility for an escape to freedom. The only catch being; that whereas Yossarian and co. always had Sweden, those of us caught up in our own modern day ‘Catch-22’ scenarios, have yet to find a place to escape from the madness and inequity of this (in)glorious, confusing life…see the film, take a deep breath and then read the book.
"They didn't have to show us Catch-22," the old woman answered. "The law says they don't have to."
"What law says they don't have to?"
Don't forget that Catch-22 is now available to order on Widescreen DVD using our special 70s search device... [See DVD section or click here for more details]
By: Kashif Ahmed
Quite simply a must-see film and a must-read book, an absolute classic that resonates even stronger today than it did in it’s own time. I would’ve liked to live in a time where the lessons of ‘Catch-22’ had been learnt, but the way it is the way it is; we are, it seems, destined to repeat the mistakes of our past on an increasingly bigger scale. Its as if the only reason that the powers that be never learnt a thing from ‘Catch 22’ is because they weren’t allowed to read or see it, but why weren’t they allowed to read or see it?… ‘Catch-22’, I guess.
1st Lt. Milo Minderbinder: We're gonna come out of this war rich!
Yossarian: You're gonna come out rich. We're gonna come out dead.
Yossarian: Let me see if I've got this straight: in order to be grounded, I've got to be crazy and I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I'm not crazy any more and I have to keep flying.
George C. Scott turned down the role of Colonel Cathcart, saying he had effectively played the same part in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964).
While on a tirade in his office, Major Major walks past a framed photo of Franklin D. Roosevelt. In a continuous shot, he paces around his office, and when he passes the picture again, it is of Winston Churchill, as he makes one more round of his office and grabs the fake mustache out of his filing cabinet, the photo has changed to that of Joseph Stalin.
Paul Simon was originally going to be in the film, but his role was written out.
Director 'Mike Nichols' wanted 36 B-25's to create the big Army Air Force base, but the budget couldn't stretch to more than 17 flyable Mitchells, with an additional non-flyable hulk to be burned and destroyed in the landing crash scene.
The film has one of the most uninterrupted scenes made. The scene, where two actors talking against a background, 17 planes took off at the same time. As the scene progresses, the actors entered a building and the same planes were seen through the window, climbing into formation. The problem was, for every take, the production manager has to call the planes back and made to take off again for every take of the particular scene.
Second Unit Director John Jordan refused to wear a harness during a bomber scene. He was sucked out of the door and tragically fell to his death.
'Stacey Keach' was originally cast as Colonel Cathcart when shooting started, but was quickly replaced by Martin Balsam because Mike Nicholls felt he was too young for the part.
The antics of M & M Interprizes are real historical likeness. An Army Air Force Colonel I know was stationed on the island shown in the film. I was told Catch-22 was a watered down version of the true account; an offical ~ unoffical three ringer...[Thanks to Richard Conant]
know some Catch-22 trivia that we could add? [Please
send it in]
Guymas Mexico ( Aerial shots)[Thanks to Jack E.Bivin]
We were horseback riding in San Carlos, Mexico and the guide took us to where the runway and set was. There is still some of the set left. [Thanks to Rene Coffey]
A few miles north of Guaymas, Son., Mexico, as we were driving on a gravel road along the ocean, we suddenly popped out on a big paved airstrip, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We turned onto the paved strip and headed right down toward the beach. On the left were what appeared to be bombed-out buildings and such like. We found out that the airstrip and buildings were one of the movie site locations for "Catch-22." They had even trucked in hundreds of truckloads of white sand from somewhere to spread on the beach. [Thanks to Fred Douglas]
Can you help? Do you know any of the SONORA, Mexico filming locations used for Catch-22? [Please send them in]
|Trailer, Commentary, Featurette|
|Trailer, Commentary, Featurette|
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"There was only one catch and that was Catch-22"
|Paramount Pictures |
Orson Welles, Martin Sheen, Bob Balaban, Bob Newhart,
Jon Voight, Anthony Perkins, Art Garfunkel|
|Drama / Historic|
| || |
|A poignant, timeless anti-war satire with good acting, excellent sound editing, top direction, and of course Joseph Heller’s stellar script. |
|A little different to the book and not as in-depth. The surreal nudity is a little |
pretentious in the wannabe Euro style.