(1,202)7.12 h 1 min1970X-RayR
Mike Nichols superbly directed this cinematic adaptation of Joseph Heller's scathing black comedy, a tale of a small group of flyers in the Mediterranean in 1944.
Mike Nichols
Alan ArkinMartin BalsamRichard Benjamin
English [CC]
Audio languages
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4.3 out of 5 stars

1202 global ratings

  1. 69% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 13% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 7% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 8% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Father GuiddoReviewed in the United States on June 9, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Amazing cinema!
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The people who didn't like movie are the same people who don't understand making jokes in the face of horror (as soldiers, emts, cops, firefighters, etc do), and are usually the same people who believe America fights "different, moral types of wars". War is war, is war, is war, is WAR. The ENTIRE point of this movie is to show the flat out insanity of war. Insanity from the local populace who in order to survive have to cow-toe to whoever's invaded them last. The insanity of being a doctor in war, to fix men up only to die the next day. The insanity of taking orders from people who have different goals than you, and yet you still have to follow orders because they're in charge. The insanity of killing those who don't need, nor deserve it because you're ordered to. The insanity of linking yourself to the people closest to you only to find out they aren't good people, and that it was just luck, timing, and circumstances that brought you together. Men find brothers in the military, but they also find murderers, drug users, rapists, etc. It's insanity! This movie shows perfectly the insanity that war is in all it's forms, and does an amazing job of pointing out the hilarity in it all. Because, if you can't laugh then you're already dead inside. I love this movie!
69 people found this helpful
Steven D.Reviewed in the United States on December 6, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Right on target
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Heller must have been on active duty. Somehow, most of us in the Viet Nam era; upon entering the service; took on a measure of insanity. It was a necessary adaption to maintain balance. The figurehead positions, the powerlessness and impotence in the face of relentless fate, the fawning before rank, the hubris and pride of ineffectual, incompetent and dishonest leadership all present and accounted for. The director played it up to the point of a caricature in the various players, but it was right on target. Been there, done that; glad I got out alive.
103 people found this helpful
John P. Jones IIIReviewed in the United States on December 9, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Another book title becomes an iconic cultural reference…
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Joseph Heller’s book, “Catch -22” has joined other book titles, like “A Bridge Too Far,” “The Perfect Storm,” and even “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” as an essential cultural reference point and a useful metaphor that can explain more contemporary situations. I had never seen the movie before; I had read the book…a long time ago. I checked my listing of books read and realized, fittingly enough, that I had read Heller’s classic, when I was in the Army, in Vietnam. Furthermore, the very next book read was another classic, but a more conventional military history, “Hell in a Very Small Place – The Siege of Dien Binh Phu.” What a juxtaposition. Which book more truly conveyed the “truth” of the military experience?

After half a century, I retained mainly two scenarios from Heller’s novel. There is the issue that the title references: In order to get out of the military for being crazy, you have to request a discharge, but the very act of requesting it proves you are not crazy. Voila. You can never get out. The other was form over substance. The general demanded that that aerial photographs showed a “tight bombing pattern.” It did not matter if you really hit the target.

The movie was released in 1970, the year after I read the novel. Mike Nichols was the director. Yes, a cliché, “a star-studded cast,” but so it was. Alan Arkin played the protagonist, Captain John Yossarian. There is also Art Garfunkel, Bob Newhart, Anthony Perkins, Jon Voight in a memorable performance as Lt. Milo Minderbender, who is the quintessential wheeler-dealer, Martin Balsam is impressive as Col. Cathcart, and even Orson Wells plays a key role as General Driddle.

The movie brought back to mind numerous other aspects of the novel that I had forgotten, aspects of war that are completely omitted or only lightly covered in more traditional histories, such as Fall’s account of the French disaster. For example, there is all that “fetish” about medals, Napoleon’s “hochets,” which is traditionally translated as “bobbles,” something you would give a baby to distract them. And thus the movie line from Col. Cathcart: “Don’t you want more oak leaf clusters on your air medal…” Ah, motivation. In another scene they award medals for bombing the ocean, the “logic of war” meant that no one could back down when it was obviously a farce. There is the doctor who “earns his flight pay” by being on the manifest of the flight. When the plane crashes, a guy is mourning him, because the documents indicate he was on the plane, even though the doctor is standing right next to him. The written document trumps reality. In another scene, one of the pilots is determine to kill Col. Cathcart, “before he kills us all.” The pilot proclaims: “the first sane thing I have ever done.” He does not use the “coin of the realm” in Vietnam: “fragging.” “Cheap available” women, with hunger being an all-important impetus was depicted well by Nichols, and a daily reality in Vietnam.

Milo (Jon Voight) deserves his own paragraph. He is the quintessential wheeler-dealer, trading the silk in Yossarian’s parachute for Egyptian cotton, while providing Yossarian one share in “MM Enterprises” as a substitute to jump with. Real war? From the classic Vietnam War documentary, “Hearts and Minds” there is the scene of a Vietnamese wheeler-dealer at his desk in Saigon proclaiming: “I am a Johnny-come-lately to war profiteering… peace is coming, whether we like it or not.” In another documentary, one interviewee proclaimed that even a helicopter could be bought off the black market in Saigon. But isn’t the scene where Milo arranges for the American Airforce to bomb its own base, in a contractual obligation with the Germans, who will buy the Egyptian cotton, just too “over-the-top”? One might think so, yet it has recently been confirmed, via recently un-earthed documents, the historical allegations that Richard Nixon had taken steps to “throw a monkey wrench” in the Paris peace talks with the Vietnamese, in order to prolong the war until after the election, because if the peace talks were successful, his political opponent, Humbert Humphrey might win the election.

Life imitating art, and I would have the opportunity to read the art while experiencing the real-life prolongation of that war. Heller got it right, and even the slap-stick aspects of Nichols’ movie were more right than wrong. 5-stars.
8 people found this helpful
Blind Faith 99Reviewed in the United States on April 13, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Horrible resolution
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Great movie. Have the DVD, but have never seen a blu ray. During the covid-19 break, I decided to re-watch it with Amazon Prime Video. Interestingly, they don't say what their resolution is. As it turns out, the resolution is horrible on all of my 4K TV's, no matter what device I use to cast. It is unwatchable. Watching the DVD has to be better than this. Searched the internet for help. All I can find is people with the same complaint.

Upon further research, I've discovered that these streamed movies (from anyone, not just Amazon) are compressed because of bandwidth issues. So arguably you're getting "HD" but only a fraction of the data gets to your tv, thus the washed-out colors and lousy detail. One article estimates that you're getting only 20% of the movie's data via streaming. Rumors of blu-ray's death may have been greatly exaggerated.
8 people found this helpful
Denny StumpReviewed in the United States on December 2, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
A poor adaptation of a great novel
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I’ve seen people write great 5 star reviews on here and criticize those of us who didn’t like it saying things like we don’t understand humor in the face of war. That is utter nonsense. I would guess that most of the good ratings are from those who didn’t read the novel. The novel was hilarious with great character development. The dialog is what made the book funny. The people in the movie are good actors but other than Bob Newhart who doesn’t have a big role, they aren’t great comedians. I served in the military during war. I thought MASH was funny and the TV show great. There is nothing wrong with my sense of humor. The problem is that the movie isn’t all that funny. Some of the best dialog is missing snd what is there is delivered in a lackluster, humorless fashion. If you enjoy reading do yourself a favor snd read the novel. It’s a classic. The movie is not.
5 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on April 9, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
The thing that is great about this movie is how real it is.
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There are a lot of elements to the plot which are of course preposterous - but - the basic back ground to the story is completely real.

For one thing - they purchased 16 real B-25 Bombers to make the movie with. The mass take off of B-25's at the beginning of the movie is like nothing else you'll see elsewhere. In other movies - even good ones like The Memphis Belle - they didn't have a whole group of planes. This movie does. The only other movie to compare it to - would be The Battle of Britain - where the Spanish Air Force still had all these WWII German Aircraft.

The casualties they took were very real and the bit at the end where Yossarian thinks Snowden just had a leg wound shows how bad these wounds could be when Snowden's flight suit tears and he spills out into the plane.

The Corruption in the Military around Naples was horrendous. Those scenes of Yossarian walking back are very, real.

Then, Nately's Whore trying to kill the man who told her that all her dreams of getting out of that place to a better life were over - and she and her sister were just going to be stuck there.

For the preposterous elements of the plot to work - the rest, the back drop to it all - had to be utterly real.

One thing - Joseph Heller flew 5 more missions than Yossarian in WWII.

Heller's story was very, very real, but disguised as satire.
One person found this helpful
joel wingReviewed in the United States on March 15, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Dark comedy on the utter absurdity of war
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Catch 22 was based upon the novel of the same name by Joseph Heller. It takes place in the Mediterranean during World War II and was meant to show the absurdity of war.

The main character is Captain John Yossarian (Alan Arkin) who is fed up. His commanding officer Colonel Cathcart (Martin Balsam) is ordering more and more missions. Yossarian wants a way out. The physician of the unit describes the Catch-22 of his situation. He can’t claim he’s crazy to get out of missions because that would mean that he’s sane, and if he’s sane that means he has to fly. Yossarian isn’t the only one tired of the fight and they deal with it in a number of absurd ways. That’s the gist of the movie, how these airmen deal with the situation that they can’t escape.

To get the feel of the movie Colonel Cathcart is talking to Lt. Milo Mindebinder (Jon Voight) about getting eggs for the unit by trading with the enemy and others. That includes taking all the parachutes of the unit for their silk to be used in the deal. While they’re talking a plane crashes and burns. Neither Cathcart nor Mindbinder pay any attention. At other times the film becomes surreal such as when Yossarian is in a fantasy sequence trying to apply first aid to a gunner in his plane who is wounded and then sees a naked woman asking him to come over in a lake, but he ends up drowning trying to swim to her.

The movie is funny and quirky. Many times the dialogue is a play on words and reminds one of a Marx Brothers’ routine. It is extremely anti-war, and well worth watching.
3 people found this helpful
Hoc1983Reviewed in the United States on January 19, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Havn't seen it since the mid 90's but it's one of those movies that is better the more times you watch it as one can ...
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A treasure of a movie in my opinion, right up there with Kelly's Heros. Havn't seen it since the mid 90's but it's one of those movies that is better the more times you watch it as one can understand the insanity of it all clearer. Stunning array of actors all delivering solid roles with my favorite parts being when Newhart & Fell have the discussion in the office (just classic) and the demise of Hungry Joe. While a bit short of the novel which pretty much every movie is it does a great job in bringing it to life and love the B-25 parts as they are all real flying machines. Would love to know how they were able to get so many as it just couldnt be done today
26 people found this helpful
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