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Catch-22 (1970)

R | | Comedy, Drama, War | 24 June 1970 (USA)
A man is trying desperately to be certified insane during World War II, so he can stop flying missions.


Mike Nichols


Joseph Heller (based on the novel by), Buck Henry (screenplay by)
3,981 ( 166)
Nominated for 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Alan Arkin ... Yossarian
Martin Balsam ... Colonel Cathcart
Richard Benjamin ... Major Danby
Art Garfunkel ... Nately (as Arthur Garfunkel)
Jack Gilford ... Doc Daneeka
Buck Henry ... Colonel Korn
Bob Newhart ... Major Major
Anthony Perkins ... Chaplain Tappman
Paula Prentiss ... Nurse Duckett
Martin Sheen ... Dobbs
Jon Voight ... Milo Minderbinder
Orson Welles ... General Dreedle
Bob Balaban ... Orr
Susanne Benton ... Dreedle's WAC
Norman Fell ... Sergeant Towser


A bombardier in World War II tries desperately to escape the insanity of the war. However, sometimes insanity is the only sane way to 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>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The anti-war satire of epic proportions.


Comedy | Drama | War


R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Richard Lester was first choice to direct this film, but turned it down to direct How I Won the War (1967). See more »


In Major Danby's initial scene in the control tower, the Baby Ruth bar in his pocket is in a modern (1970) wrapper. The actual 1940s wrappers had a different design. See more »


[first lines]
Lt. Col. Korn, XO: [speaking to Yossarian] All you have to do is be our pal.
Colonel Cathcart: Say nice things about us.
Lt. Col. Korn, XO: Tell the folks at home what a good job we're doing. Take our offer Yossarian.
Colonel Cathcart: Either that or a court-martial for desertion.
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Referenced in Reflections of Evil (2002) See more »


Una furtiva lacrima
from "L'elisir d'amore"
Written by Gaetano Donizetti
(when Yossarian is wandering around narrow streets of the night Rome)
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User Reviews

Yossarian Lives!
23 November 2000 | by somadSee all my reviews

Joseph Heller mentions in his introduction to the S & S Classics edition of Catch 22 that John Chancellor went around pasting stickers saying "Yossarian Lives" all around NBC studios in New York after having read the book.

One finds this enthusiasm understandable upon first reading of this classic novel (and it is a classic though it is a mess -- which is part of its charm). It is simultaneously funny and tragic, and this material fits naturally with the cinematic talents of Buck Henry and Mike Nichols. They achieve the same tone as Heller's book, but with requisite condensation (even if this film had been twice as long, it wouldn't have been able to capture everything in the book, which is not a condemnation).

The book runs in circles chronologically; so does the film. The book repeats the Catch 22 theme on almost every page (it is certainly the focus of most dialogue); the film isn't as rife with its references but is more explicit when invoking the Catch.

The tragedy of Snowden is a dramatic focal point for both; unfortunately, the film builds it up more (due to its comparative brevity) but falls short in explicating the relevance.

Fortunately the adaptation works incredibly well on several levels. In terms of characterization, Alan Arkin IS Yossarian, Anthony Perkins IS Chaplain Tappman, and Bob Newhart IS Major Major (albeit briefly). The dialogue, which closely follows the novel for the most part, works as well orally as in the written form. And the insanity of war, which underlies all of the book, is well represented.

As a creative work, this film is impossible to divorce from the book, which is difficult to say about many adaptations. As a creation of its own, it suffers some without knowledge of the base material, and as an adaptation of that material it is bound to disappoint fans of the original. There's that Catch again. Viewed with a balance between the two positions (if that's possible), it works extremely well and shows its depth with each viewing in the same way the book does with each reading.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | Italian

Release Date:

24 June 1970 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Catch-22 See more »

Filming Locations:

Empalme, Sonora, Mexico See more »


Box Office


$18,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
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