Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Catch-22 (1970)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Catch-22 (1970)

In Mike Nichols' war comedy - a screen adaptation of Joseph Heller's 1961 satirical first novel about the absurdity of war, with numerous flashbacks and dream sequences:

  • WWII bombing mission bombardier Captain Yossarian (Alan Arkin) at a US Air Force base on the Mediterranean island of Pianosa, and his desperate claim that he was "insane" in order to be removed from combat, and his many absurd attempts to convince others that he was indeed crazy; however, he was trapped by Catch-22, explained by Dr. 'Doc' Daneeka (Jack Gilford) to Yossarian: (Doc: "Catch-22. Anyone who wants to get out of combat isn't really crazy, so I can't ground him." Yossarian: "OK, let me see if I've got this straight. In order to be grounded, I've got to be crazy. And I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I'm not crazy anymore, and I have to keep flying." Doc: "You've got it. That's Catch-22")
  • the egg scene, in which Col. Cathcart completely ignored a distressed airplane that landed and caught on fire, while listening to an inane, elaborate money-making black market scheme suggested by First Lt. Milo Minderbinder (Jon Voight) to sell fresh chicken eggs from Malta for a profit
  • the hallucinatory dream sequence of Nurse Duckett (Paula Prentiss) who climbed on a floating raft, called and waved to Yossarian: ("Over here, hurry up!"), and then removed her white gown to reveal full-frontal nudity, and tossed the garment into the water toward Yossarian who was struggling to swim to her, and as he grabbed the white garment, he awoke in a hospital bed
  • the absurd hospital scene, witnessed by Yossarian, in which two nurses, one of whom was Nurse Duckett, swapped the IV and urine bottles on a man in a full body cast, while distractedly speaking about cooking: ("It takes me 45 minutes to do this thing. First I sauté the chicken parts, then I put the raisins and the onions in") - and then left the room giggling
  • the milestone scene - the first US film to depict an individual (Martin Balsam as blustering Col. Cathcart) defecating on a toilet seat, and then unwinding a long piece of toilet tissue while nonchalantly talking to earnest Chaplain Capt. A.T. Tappman (Anthony Perkins) - reminiscent of President LBJ during the Vietnam War
  • during a medal presentation ceremony for bravery, Yossarian stood naked ("out of uniform") (because "a man was killed in his plane over Avignon last week and bled all over him" and all of his clothes and underwear were still in the laundry), when Brig. Gen. Dreedle (Orson Welles) reprimanded Yossarian's commanders: "What the hell do I care? If he wants to receive a medal without any clothes on, what the hell business is it of yours?" and then told Yossarian: "Here's your medal, Captain. You're a very weird person, Yossarian"
Medal Presentation - Nakedness
  • the final scene - Yossarian's escape from insanity and madness ("I can do it") - and the military base - by jumping out of a hospital window (after being stabbed in the back by an unknown assailant), running crazily and then furiously paddling away in an inflated yellow raft toward Sweden, as his buddies Maj. Danby (Richard Benjamin) and the Chaplain yelled back: "They'll catch you, they'll bring you back!", "This is insane," "You'll be on the run with no friends! You'll live in constant danger of betrayal!" and "You'll have to keep on your toes every minute"

"That's Catch-22"

Plane Crash Scene

Dream Sequence

Hospital Scene

Toilet Scene

"This is insane"

Yossarian's Escape


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