A bombardier in World War II tries desperately to escape the insanity of the war. However, sometimes insanity is the only sane way cope with a crazy situation. Catch-22 is a parody of a "military mentality" and of a bureaucratic society in general. Written by
Jeffrey Struyk <Catch22@ix.netcom.com>
In the opening scene with Yossarian, Cathcart and Korn making their deal in the burned out tower, Yossarian turns around to them at a different point in his dialogue than in the reprise of this scene at the end of the film. See more »
There are several films I consider perfect. Not all are brilliant. There are quite a few I consider brilliant, and only a few of those are perfect. Catch-22 is not only perfect, but if there is a stronger word than brilliant, it's that too.
The camera shots, the editing, the sound, the pacing, the casting, the flawless acting, the incredibly complex staging of many scenes: all done to perfection. Mike Nichols directs films sparingly, but his list of titles reads like a who's who of the greatest classics. Catch-22 is his masterpiece, as far as I'm concerned. You may not know that he earned an Oscar (not for this), a Tony and an Emmy all as best director. He may be unique in this regard, but I don't know.
The book was absolutely wonderful. No movie can be an exact depiction of the book--it just doesn't work that way. However, this movie delivers the story, spirit and theme, not to mention the egregious comedy of the book better than I ever would have imagined.
I could write a whole book on what I like about this film, and I won't, but after all my sweeping superlatives I need to cite a few concrete examples.
1. The mess hall conversation with Martin Sheen and others: very complex, with overlapping dialog, wonderful facials and voice characterization by Sheen and a few timely cuts, not to mention the incredible rapid fire lines delivered by Arkin.
2. The runway scene with Doc and Yossarian in which the essence of catch-22 is explained: the sound--the roar of the engines that almost but not quite drown out the dialog in spots, the incredible inverted shot of Doc handing Yossarian his hat and responding, "it's (catch-22) the best there is!" Then, the incredible visual of the planes taking off--staying with the shot, showing the sheer beauty of it and pausing from the story for a minute, so we can catch out breath. I would say Nichols is Hitchcock's equal at providing incredible visuals and being innovative at doing it.
3. The scene about Nately's 60 shares of M&M Enterprises. The cut to the close up delivery of, "then they'll understand." Exquisitely chilling line.
4. The endless stream of priceless cameo scenes: Orson Welles - "Take that man out and shoot him." The movie is outrageously funny, the script and dialog are incredibly witty and intelligent, the acting is inspired, the theme is clear without touting itself at all.
A final aside: for those of you who were not in the military, I wouldn't be surprised if you thought the whole military depiction was just silly beyond words, but I can assure you that it's only one or two degrees of hyperbole. I had my share of Yossarian-like experiences in the navy.
27 of 40 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?