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FILM DIRECTOR Mike Nichols – Where’s the catch?


Mike Nichols – A Crash Course in….

David Parkinson, MovieMail, 23 November 2014

David Parkinson is a film critic and historian who is a reviewer for the Radio Times and the Oxford Times, and a contributing editor on Empire. He has written and edited a number of books on cinema, including A History of Film, The Young Oxford Book of Cinema, The Rough Guide to Film Musicals, Mornings in the Dark: The Graham Greene Film Reader and most recently, 100 Ideas that Changed Film.

TV, radio, everywhere. But here’s 3 A4s worth with added YouTubes. Sketch with Elaine May. And 3’15” of the catch-22 of Catch-22. Might be time to watch it again. Start looking for/ordering the DVD. Frankly I didn’t know he directed half the films I see he made. Convinced myself he looked like Michael Nicholson the ITV broadcaster!

Critics might have been a bit sniffy at the time the film Catch-22 came out, and it isn’t at the top of his top 10, but you read the book, you see the film, you know the difference. Had a little sneeze of the generic, Novel They Couldn’t Make Into A Film. Right behind it, finger under nose, building, building, Read the Book, Wouldn’t Watch the Film. Jamais deux sans trois in the sneeze-of-awareness dept.: Saw The film, They say it wasn’t a Patch on The Book.

Reading the book again seems it might be worth looking at how filmically he wrote it – if the dialogue lifts out the book into the film. 354 pages of the pdf on you left, film on your right, keep those pages scrolling.

Interestingly, there was novel, stage play and film. Heller writes in Catch as Catch Can about how much he was able to pack into the play.

JOSEPH HELLER Catch As Catch Can 1

When he was first sent the script:

JOSEPH HELLER Catch As Catch Can 2

Subsequent meeting with Nichols and scriptwriter Buck Henry. Felt awkward having the writer there. But,

“I gave them my opinion there was too much dialogue, too much extraneous transitional talk, and also that the first seventy pages or so had lots of action and lots of comedy but that nothing seemed to be happening in the way of developing either the story or Yossarian’s character.”

Nicholson asked him to make a list of specific suggestions, but Heller thought better of it. Half way through the script, with his list of suggestions, he said he realised the end of Nicholson’s request had been, “I’ll get back to you.”

Brought to my attention after posting: BBC Radio 4 Bookclub did Joseph Heller and Catch-22. One member of the audience was not shy to say he thought the film was terrible. (Rotten Tomatoes 85% 76%. “A brilliant failure” seems to be as succinct as you’ll get. A telling remark from a non-reviewer: “I have not read the book, which seems to be a pre-requisite for watching this movie…”) And that’s pretty much always true when you love the book and are almost champing at the bit to decry the film before seeing it! In the R4 Prog, Heller himself responds to the remark and adds a little bit more.

Looking at the list of authors on Bookclub, 199 progs in all available, it might be interesting to check out those which involved a film to go with the novel. If nothing else running down the page is a good test of film knowledge. Hmm….speechbubblethinks…Did they make a film of The Secret History? William Boyd – well they probably made films of all his novels. Michael Ondaatje – easy-peasy.

By the way, to avoid confusion, where the author was not available, someone else stands in. George Orwell obviously wouldn’t have been able to come. Overall, the main excuse was death.

This was meant to be a post about Nicholson but as the Tralfamadorians say, So it goes.

Wiki:Catch-22 has a few points of interesting. Not guaranteed to be true or accurate, but interesting. One can’t not be true and is very shocking.

Where’s that filmography….

November 27, 2014 Posted by | Joseph Heller, Mike Nichols | , | Leave a comment