Saturday, November 24, 2012


During WWII on the island of Pianosa located in the Mediterranean, Capt. Yossarian (Alan Arkin) finds his discharge request on the basis of insanity denied on the illogical Army maxim that a person recognizing his own insanity cannot in fact be declared. Yossarian now bears witness witness to the mad of war that envelops him as he deals with self serving superiors, the prospect of flying interminable missions, and witnessing the death of his contemporaries. "Catch-22" is a surprisingly sturdy adaptation of Joseph Heller's monumental 1962 which is probably unfilmable but must have seemed prime for a generation engulfed in the Vietnam War. It was director Mike Nichols and writer Buck Henry's (who also appears in the film as Lt.Col. Korn) followup to "The Graduate",  and they make tolerable changes and offer about as good of an adaptation as can be expected, although much of Heller's dialogue is sadly omitted. I found Arkin to be wrong for Yossarian, as he contains hardly any of the disbelief or exasperation which distinguished that character as a hallmark of American literature. The greatest strength of the film can be found in the casting of the supporting roles of the eccentric servicemen, with Orson Welles, Martin Balsam, and Bob Newhart standing out as the most memorable.