Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Catch-22 (1970)

Voice: Help Him!
Capt. Yossarian: Wha?
V: Help him, help him.
CY: Help who?
V: Help the Bombardier.
CY: I'm the bombardier. I'm alright.
V: Then Help Him, help him.

Director Mike Nichols and writer-actor Buck Henry followed their enormous hit The Graduate (1967) with this timely adaptation of Joseph Heller's satiric antiwar novel. Haunted by the death of a young gunner, all-too-sane Capt. Yossarian (Alan Arkin) wants out of the rest of his WW II bombing missions, but publicity-obsessed commander Colonel Cathcart (Martin Balsam) and his yes man, Colonel Korn (Henry), keep raising the number of missions that Yossarian and his comrades are required to fly. After Doc Daneeka (Jack Gilford) tells Yossarian that he cannot declare him insane if Yossarian knows that it's insane to keep flying, Yossarian tries to play crazy by, among other things, showing up nude in front of despotic General Dreedle (Orson Welles). As all of Yossarian's initially even-keeled friends, such as Nately (Art Garfunkel) and Dobbs (Martin Sheen), genuinely lose their heads, and the troop's supplies are bartered away for profit by the ultra-entrepreneurial Milo Minderbinder (Jon Voight), Yossarian realizes that the whole system has lost it, and he can either play along or jump ship. Though not about Vietnam, Catch-22's ludicrous military machinations directly evoked its contemporary context in the Vietnam era. Cathcart and Dreedle care more about the appearance of power than about victory, and Milo cares for money above all, as the complex narrative structure of Yossarian's flashbacks renders the escalating events appropriately surreal. Confident that the combination of a hot director and a popular, culturally relevant novel would spell blockbuster, Paramount spent a great deal of money on Catch-22, but it wound up getting trumped by another 1970 antiwar farce: Robert Altman's MASH. With audiences opting for Altman's casual Korean War iconoclasm over Nichols' more polished symbolism, the highly anticipated Catch-22 flopped, although the New York Film Critics Circle did acknowledge Arkin and Nichols. Despite this reception, Catch-22's ensemble cast and pungent sensibility effectively underline the insanity of war, Vietnam and otherwise. ~ Lucia Bozzola, All Movie Guide

Running Time: 121 mins
Catch-22 (1970)
A real black comedy about a man that must be insane to want to stay in a bloody war as a bombardier but to admit that he does not want to fly anymore must indicate to the "Doc" that he is sane. And from this basic formula of "Catch 22" the whole film creates illogical actions of participants. Capt. Yossarian to finally get a discharge has to like his commanding officers-or in other words say nice things about them. And then he gets stabbed in the back by another person raking.

The unit is transferred into a "syndicate" the creative ideas of a brown-nosing Captain in the Air Force-an ultra-entrepreneurial Milo Minderbinder (Jon Voight).

At first I missed it but the funniest scene of the movie for me was the a man that was wrapped from head to toes in a cast with a tube out of his crotch and a IV into his arm. The two nurses come by and disconnect his urine bottle and connect it to his IV feed and then reconnects that empty bottle to the urine tube.


There is commentary by the director Mike Nichols and Steven Soderbergh which was worth a run through also.

The director dissed John Wayne when he came and landed in their field strip, lol! He was the "enemy". Later Mike said he did get to know John.

One last comment was that I decided to watch this from reading an economist's paper that mentioned this film in passing.

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