Catch-22 (1970)

War really does make you go crazy.

Capt. Yossarian (Alan Arkin) tries to escape the travesties of World War II by convincing his Air Force commanders that he’s crazy. Hilarity ensues — but so does reality as he watches his close friends (Martin Sheen and Art Garfunkel) die in the ridiculousness of war.

I’m still ashamed in myself that I haven’t found the time yet to actually read this crazy novel, that this film is based on, but I have a feeling after seeing this, I definitely will soon.

My favorite element of this film is that it really does have a great script here to work with. The dark humor works so well for this film, because it’s great at showing all the funny moments that can actually happen in between all the fighting, and killing. It also works well even in today’s world, and can still pertain to the craziness of the war in present time which is always great.

The cinematography is also beautiful with some wonderful shots of the landscape, that although may seem a bit out-of-place considering that the film, isn’t all about how it looks, I still liked how it gave me this feeling of the area these soldiers were fighting at.

The only problem with this film is that it does get a little weird at the end, and the comedy starts to lose it’s edge. I found myself chuckling less and less with this material, as the film kept going on longer into the end, and I was wondering what was supposed to be funny, and what wasn’t. It gets very dark by the end, and this is where the film lost me because after awhile I couldn’t find one laugh within me when certain things started to happen with this story. Also, the plot is pretty jumpy, going through one story to another, and it doesn’t quite work because we don’t get all of the stories in detailed.

The performances in this film are what kept me watching. The always reliable Alan Arkin stars as Yossarian, and blends that perfect mixture of goofiness and realism that always seems to work for him, no matter what it is that he’s doing. Anthony Perkins does a good job here as Chaplain Tappman, and brings out a lot more comedy and depth within his character that we aren’t quite expecting. Jon Voight is also hilarious as Milo Minderbinder, the one guy who’s trying to get very rich off of this war. My favorite of the whole cast was actually a short bit from Orson Welles who plays Gen. Dreedle and dominates every scene with that signature tough-guy persona he always carries so well with him, and here it just works in a comedic sort of way. Also in the cast are Martin Sheen, Bob Newhart, Art Garfunkel, and Martin Balsam.

Consensus: The humor works well with it’s dark approach, and it’s a sight to look at, but Catch-22 gets very strange by the end, and starts to get darker with it’s approach, even though the first hour is just so darn funny.



  1. My case is the opposite to yours. I’ve read the book but haven’t yet seen the film (though it has been lying with me for sometime now). The book by Joseph Heller ranks among my absolute favourites. I was simply bowled over by the sheer audacity of the prose, the wit, the cynicism, the wacky humour, the unforgettable array of oddbal characters, and the subtle yet palpable indictment on war-mongers. A true masterpiece that borders on literary nonsense. Never realised that film version boasts of such a brilliant cast. I guess I need to watch it soon.

  2. This is one of the few movies made from a great book, where I had read the book first and liked the movie anyway! Another great review my friend.

  3. Man, I have never heard of this film! What a cast – I think I’ll have to make a point of hunting it down at the rental store and giving it a shot!

    Any film with Art Garfunkel in its cast roster is worth at least one look!!

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