“Catch-22” is one of my favorite novels. Author Joseph Heller’s story of a WWII aero squadron highlights the insanity of war through its colorful characters and dark comedy. His writing style and acerbic humor really clicked for me and has become a mainstay on my book shelf.
Mike Nichol’s 1970 film adaptation of “Catch-22” follows Captain Yossarian (Alan Arkin) as a soldier who discovers that sometimes the best way to deal with an idiotic situation is to meet it head on. The all-star cast includes Orson Welles, Bob Newhart, Martin Sheen, Jon Voight and even Art Garfunkel (yes, as in Simon and Garfunkel). The performances are excellent and the script lifts its dialogue directly from the novel. The film falls a little short, though, in its characters. Heller crafted his book so that different chapters focused on different characters, allowing the reader to develop an understanding of their particular points of view. The movie just doesn’t have the time to focus on this, and a viewer who is unaware of the novel could easily become lost.
For me, it was nice to see some of my favorite actors playing some of my favorite characters. Now when I read the novel, I’ll be picturing Orson Welles as General Dreedle.