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For most of us, this DVD will be the first opportunity to see Mike Nichols' Catch-22 uncut and in its proper theatrical edition since its release in 1970. The picture, which was a financial failure on its original release (this reviewer saw it in a neighborhood theater on a double-feature with the original version of The Out-Of-Towners), has only been available for the 30 years since in pan-and-scan television prints, which chop off half the image in any given shot and were also heavily censored. Even the AMC ...
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For most of us, this DVD will be the first opportunity to see Mike Nichols' Catch-22 uncut and in its proper theatrical edition since its release in 1970. The picture, which was a financial failure on its original release (this reviewer saw it in a neighborhood theater on a double-feature with the original version of The Out-Of-Towners), has only been available for the 30 years since in pan-and-scan television prints, which chop off half the image in any given shot and were also heavily censored. Even the AMC cable presentations during 2001 were cut in certain spots (such as the death of Snowden). Curiously, Catch-22 was among the earliest movies to be made available on pre-recorded home video, in the early 1980's -- for around $80, you could buy a grainy looking VHS or Beta tape of the picture, mastered from 16mm and edited for television. It was only ever available on laserdisc in a pan-and-scan edition, and wasn't worth even looking at in that format. The Paramount DVD, on the other hand, is a jewel -- a gorgeous, polished, beautifully set jewel, that starts out on the right foot by capturing the gorgeous night-into-day cinematography in the credit sequence. Now you can appreciate the six months-plus that Nichols and company spent working in Mexico and Rome (contributing indirectly to the break-up of the team of Simon & Garfunkel in the process) on the movie, because this picture is a joy to view, just for the watching; indeed, the color here may be deeper and richer than this reviewer remembers from the theatrical print that he saw a generation ago, and the sound is its equal -- in the take-off sequence in Chapter 2, the gradual drop down in audio levels from the roar of the engines to the silence as the planes wing off of the distance is captured so beautifully that it's worth rewatching, just for the slow reduction from high-resolution cacophony to dead silence. The mix of sound in the following scene, in which Milo (Jon Voight) explains his trading to the colonel (Martin Balsam), their dialogue competing with the crash and explosion of a bomber, is spot-on perfect as well, not a word of a comical inflection lost; and the same goes for the first scene of Alan Arkin's Yosarian and Charles Grodin's Aarfy is also as good as it has ever sounded . . . . In short, this is the way to watch the movie, and on a screen of 20 inches or more, this is the way to see it. The disc opens on a very easy to use menu, and offers several options beyond the English language surround track and a French mono track (or English mono). The trailer was a strange piece of promotion, without any narration or information, just a repeat of the airfield scene in which Alan Arkin and Jack Gilford explain what "Catch-22" means -- the sound of a beating heart then accompanies what was essentially an all-star cast list. The real bonus, however, is the narrative track by Mike Nichols and Steven Soderbergh -- they walk us through every shot of the movie, starting with the magnificent title sequence. Nichols reveals that it was Buck Henry's suggestion, coming off of the success of The Graduate screenplay, to give much of Catch-22 a cyclical flashback structure, taking off from The Graduate's "Scarborough Fair" montage, and representing a fever dream -- the director regrets that fact that most audience members missed the fact that the person who stabs Yosarian is Nately's whore, and reveals that he later wished that he could have walked audiences into the flashback/dream sequence so they understood it better. Nichols also explains how shooting the multiple versions of each scene meant shooting within the same hour or 90 minute time-frame each day for weeks to get the identical natural lighting, which explains the extended shooting schedule. Nichols and Soderbergh aren't the most active or lively narrators, but the fact that they take their time is a virtue -- they luxuriate in the details that went into the design of every shot in so easy-going a fashion that, for example, the first half-hour of the movie, viewed with the narration, slides by in what feels like about 20 minutes. There are a few gaps -- Nichols reveals that Martin Balsam was the second actor in the role of Colonel Cathcart, but never tells us who the first actor was; but we do find out that Buck Henry's readings of Orson Welles's lines pleased Welles no end (Henry's first quotation of a Welles line on camera dates from a 1964 independent feature that he wrote called The Troublemaker). He also tells of his personal indulgences (such as his use of "Also Sprach Zarathustra" in the scene involving Yosarian and the prostitute), that somehow worked out amid the meticulous planning, and how filmmakers from Stanley Kubrick to Leni Riefenstahl influenced his creative impulses. The whole disc is akin to the experience of watching (and seeing) the movie for the first time, and it is one of the gems in the Paramount DVD catalog, and even more extraordinary, given that the effort was made on behalf of a movie that really wasn't a terribly big success.
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Special Features

Commentary by Director Mike Nichols and filmmaker Steven Soderbergh; photo gallery; theatrical trailer
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
No film could do complete justice to Joseph Heller's acclaimed novel, which in the early 1960s provided a prescient shorthand for an era of official duplicity. But writer Buck Henry's adaptation is faithful to the book, and director Mike Nichols pulls no punches. This biting black comedy and military satire is comparable in some ways to Robert Altman's MASH, if not quite as funny. The story follows Heller's anarchic structure so closely that at times a viewer can get lost. The fine cast reads like a roster of popular late 1960s male stars, including Alan Arkin, Martin Balsam, Jon Voight, Richard Benjamin, Martin Sheen, and Henry himself.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 5/22/2001
  • UPC: 097360692440
  • Original Release: 1970
  • Rating:

  • Source: Paramount
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Dolby 5.1 / Mono
  • Sound: Dolby Digital, monaural
  • Language: English, Fran├žais
  • Time: 2:01:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alan Arkin Capt. Yossarian
Martin Balsam Col. Cathcart
Richard Benjamin Maj. Danby
Arthur Garfunkel Nately
Jack Gilford Doc Daneeka
Jon Voight Milo Minderbinder
Buck Henry Col. Korn
Bob Newhart Major Major
Anthony Perkins Chaplain Tappman
Paula Prentiss Nurse Duckett
Martin Sheen Dobbs
Orson Welles Gen. Dreedle
Bob Balaban Capt. Orr
Susanne Benton Dreedle's WAC
Olimpia Carlisi Luciana
Marcel Dalio Old Man
Norman Fell Sgt. Towser
Charles Grodin Aardvark
Austin Pendleton Col. Moodus
Peter Bonerz Capt. McWatt
Elizabeth Wilson Mother
Evi Maltagliati Old Woman
Richard Libertini Brother
Jon Korkes Snowden
Liam Dunn Father
Gina Rovere Nately's Girl
John Brent Cathcart's Receptionist
Seth Allen Hungry Joe
Phil Roth
Collin Wilcox-Horne Nurse Cramer
Jack Riley Doctor
Felice Orlandi Man in Black
Wendy D'Olive Aardvark's Girl
Alan Alda Extra
Bruce Kirby Doctor
Technical Credits
Mike Nichols Director
Ernest Adler Costumes/Costume Designer
Tallmantz Aviation Stunts
John Calley Producer
Lawrence James Cavanaugh Special Effects
Alexander Gerry Consultant/advisor
Joseph Heller Original Story
Buck Henry Screenwriter
Lawrence O. Jost Sound/Sound Designer
Harold Michelson Art Director
Ray Moyer Set Decoration/Design
Sam O'Steen Editor
Martin Ransohoff Producer
Richard Sylbert Production Designer
Nelson Tyler Cinematographer, Special Effects
Lee Vasque Special Effects
David Watkin Cinematographer
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Scene Index

Side #1
0. Scene Selection
1. "Help The Bombardier" [7:41]
2. Persecution Complex [6:44]
3. Milo Minderbinder [6:47]
4. Captian Yossarian [6:34]
5. Major Major [4:04]
6. Chaplain [4:59]
7. Colonel Cathcart [2:50]
8. Nurse Duckett [2:05]
9. General Dreedle [11:59]
10. Out of Uniform [1:28]
11. Luciana [1:05]
12. Hungry Joe [3:59]
13. Snowden's Funeral [4:27]
14. Shameful Opportunist [4:47]
15. Orr [5:03]
16. Doc Daneeka [3:55]
17. Dobbs [5:52]
18. After Curfew [7:06]
19. Nately's Whore [7:17]
20. Aarfy Ardvark [6:33]
21. One Last Catch [2:00]
22. Rowing To Sweden [6:37]
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Side #1
   Set Up
   Special Feature
      Theatrical Trailer
      Photo Gallery
      Commentary By Mike Nichols & Steven Soderbergh
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Best Dark Comedy!!

    This is one of the most underrated dark comedies of it's era. The casting and acting is superb. Mike Nichols direction and cinematography is outstanding. Next to Dr. Strangelove this is another great comedy about the absurdity of war/defense thinking.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A movie you shouldn't miss

    Catch-22 is flat out, one of the best antiwar films in the history of cinema, to me that is. Alan Arkin does the best job, he's sensational as Capt. Yossarian. Yes its hard to understand in the beggining, but after watching it a few times, it just gets better. I urge everyone to see this film. I loved it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews