Catch-22 (1970)

I watched Catch 22 today and liked it quite a bit. I’m frankly surprised at all the derision it has received over time. I haven’t read the book, and it’s clear I probably should but from my impression it does work as a stand alone film. I don’t have any thoughts put together at this moment, but outside Mr. Peel who currently has it featured as the “Movie of the Moment” I don’t really know any fans of the film. If you’ve seen it, I’m interested in any thoughts you may have.

7 responses to “Catch-22 (1970)

  1. I’ve always loved this movie and love the commentary on the DVD by Nichols and Steven Soderbergh but even though I love it I can understand the derision, at least from an historical standpoint. That is, it seems to have been released at just the wrong time. Just as comedies were moving away from the sixties styles of “The Russians are Coming…” and “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” with newer style comedies like “MASH”,”Alice’s Restaurant” and “Butch Cassidy” this seemed like an old throwback WWII comedy. As a result critics were quite harsh but we fans of the film have had the last word. Most people enjoy the movie when they see it and don’t know or care at all about “MASH” coming out in the same year. I love “MASH” too and felt it was the Best Picture of the year, but frankly, it feels more dated now than “Catch 22” does.

    And Alan Arkin was robbed of a nomination for Best Actor because he was in a critically unsuccessful film. He’s fantastic as Yossarian, a perfect casting choice.

    As for the book, the movie follows it fairly closely but the book definitely is a lot funnier. Anyway, glad to see you liked it. I think its reputation will continue to grow with time.

  2. I saw this on Tv (commercial free/unedited/original aspect ratio so no worries!) but will pick up the DVD sometime this week for the commentary and possibly a rewatch. From my reading it’s an essential. Interesting take though on part of the reason for the film’s lack of popularity, I didn’t consider it but it makes sense. I also hear that generally before the film was even released there was a lot of bad things being said about the film, especially by huge fans of the novel that soured it’s release. I like MASH a lot, but I greatly prefer Catch 22. It’s interesting they would both emerge the same year, and a shame. Neither is my favourite of 1970 though, that honour goes to Beyond the Valley of the Dolls!!

    Alan Arkin was incredible, makes me want to rewatch Wait Until Dark.

  3. Ebert would be honored to hear your choice for 1970. BTVOTD is quite entertaining. And if I recall correctly they even talk about the MASH thing on the DVD or maybe it was in an interview I read: How everyone kept talking about how fresh and original MASH was compared to their movie. It’s funny how almost 40 years later none of that “competition” affects how we think about the films but then it was such a big deal.

    And Arkin is superb in “Wait Until Dark.” He’s funny, dramatic and frightening all at once. That man gave some great, great performances in the late sixties and early seventies. His film career should have been much more successful than it was.

  4. It is entertaining and all around wonderful! I think because Russ Meyer made skin flicks, his stuff gets relegated to smut. From what I’ve seen, his films are actually quite intelligent and have a very distinct, interesting style. It really seeems as though I should pay more attention to DVD special features, because it seems as though I’m missing out!

    Agreed on Arkin, I’m definetely going to go out of my way to see more of his work. Almost reminds me of Eli Wallach, who had tremendous talent and potential but never quite “made it”. As a stage actor though, I’m sure he didn’t mind all that much.

  5. Well, I had to respond to this. There’s often not really a reason why I put various posters up on my blog, they’re just movies I like, find interesting and maybe they just happen to have leapt to mind. That said, I like CATCH 22 a great deal and will second everything Jonathan has said about it. There’s a great deal to discover each time I take a look at it–it definitely rewards repeat viewings. Also, within that ultra-dark surrealism, it’s hard not to get caught up in the amazement of how they pulled off shooting certain things in it, both physically and technically. And not to get to political, but CATCH has probably dated better in recent years than MASH (which I also love) maybe because some of it seems somewhat prescient in terms of our world at this moment.

    It’s also my favorite audio commentary of all time. Unlike, say, THE GRADUATE, there’s a feeling that Nichols hasn’t been asked all the expected questions many times already and Soderbergh seems to really be familiar with the film, so he knows all the right things to ask. Hearing Soderbergh’s astonishment at how they filmed a plane crashing into a mountain is a thing of beauty.

    I could also go on about all the things I love about BTVOTD and Alan Arkin (after all, Sardine Liqueur is taken from an Alan Arkin film) but this isn’t my blog. Anyway, thanks for the shout-out. It’s always nice to learn that people are stopping by.

  6. I like MASH too, but I am inclined to agree on being more dated in retrospect. The final act especially feels a little flat. I’ve seen it a few times though, so it could be Catchs’ novelty that’s still working at me. I’m pretty sure it isn’t though.

    Again the commentary! I’ve been so busy I haven’t made my way to the video store yet, but man I really need to for this now. I also am a huge Soderbergh fan, The Limey is one of my all time favourites. Comparitevely, you can actually see where Catch 22 might have influneceed him.

  7. Starts out pretty funny, gets incredibly weird by the end. I loved how the comedy still holds up pretty well especially in today’s day and age, but I still need to read the source material. Good review, check out mine when you can!

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