When it was published in the 1960s, the title of this Joseph Heller satiric novel instantly became the phrase we use to describe no-win situations, and it spawned the classic film about the futility and idiocy of war. Watching the movie again, nearly 35 years after its debut, shows how it hits the mark just as well now as it did then. The book’s no slouch, either.

The film also collects the most amazing group of talented actors and film professionals, starting with Mike Nichols, who received one of 2003’s Kennedy Center Honors for Lifetime Achievement. No wonder. Nichols is responsible for everything from The Graduate, Silkwood, Carnal Knowledge, Working Girl, Postcards from the Edge, and Regarding Henry to the Elizabeth Taylor-Richard Burton epic Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, as well as Primary Colors, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Angels in America, Closer, and Charlie Wilson’s War.

In Catch-22, Nichols assembles an array of on-screen talent that spans the Hollywood filmmaking generations. Bigwigs in the late 1960s and early 1970s were star Alan Arkin as Yossarian, along with Bob Newhart, Martin Balsam, Buck Henry, and Norman Fell, not to mention the legendary Orson Welles and memorable character actor Jack Gilford. But this film also showed us the up-and-comers in all their glory: Jon Voight, Art Garfunkel, Martin Sheen, Bob Balaban, Austin Pendleton, Peter Bonerz, Paula Prentiss, Richard Benjamin, Anthony Perkins, and Charles Grodin.

Watch this film once to see the incredible cast of characters. Then watch it again for the story. You won’t be disappointed on either count.

Cast: Alan Arkin, Bob Newhart, Martin Balsam, Orson Welles, Buck Henry, et. al.
Director: Mike Nichols
Screenwriter: Buck Henry, based on the novel by Joseph Heller
Theatrical release: 1970; available on DVD

Copyright ©2013 Jill J. Jensen | Clarity from Chaos