Back in December we started what was intended to be a regular series highlighting the film reviews of Bill Margold, however after the first installment we discovered that we’d misplaced the entire collection of papers which included his reviews (we’re still looking btw). But this week we came across a rather early review by Margold, from the July 3, 1970 Cal State Los Angeles student newspaper College Times (Margold graduated from Cal State Northridge with a degree in journalism).
Edge of Man's Sanity Reached in 'Catch-22' By William Margold C.T. Staff Writer Sometime in the future, as the world finally sinks in the quicksand of its own greed, violence and degradation, someone may turn to another living corpse and gasp, "Didn't I see all this in a film called 'Catch-22'?" Catch-22 is a psychological catch-all that kept men flying and dying during World War II. In order to be grounded, one had to be insane enough to keep flying. To ask to be grounded meant you were sane and therefore fit to fly. On this mental treadmill ran countless white mice disguised as human beings. One, a likable Assyrian named Yossarian decided to protest and ran the opposite way. It is not a pretty trip, but does make for a film experience that is "total". There are men's films and there are women's films; "Catch-22" is humanity's film. "Catch-22", a Paramount release, is now playing at the National Theater in Westwood. It is a precision blend of acting and story. To produce a masterpiece rather than a monster from the plot and people chemistry in "Catch-22", a director with an empathetic eye and ear was needed, and Mike Nichols deserves to be honored. Not only is he a genius in the directorial art, he is also a skillful hunter in quest of human emotion. Stealthy Nichols has laid out has snares and nets. With the light artillery of humor, during the first half of "Catch-22", Nichols fires merrily at the viewer until the audience is beyond the point of sanely discerning where laughing stops and lamenting begins. At that moment Nichols snaps his snare on the viewer's heart and drops his net on the viewer's mind. The heavy guns open up and the viewer is flattened, unforgettably so, by a bombardment of greed, violence and degradation. Now, the viewer is a white mouse too. Nichols has brought forth a series of performances of such intensity and stature that each would rate reams of raves. Alan Arkin as the beleaguered Yossarian takes top credit and deserves it. It is a job of acting that hits every buzzer on the emotional pinball machine. He is a simple man tossed into the world's complex madness and all he wants is out. Arkin renders Yossarian so realistically that it is hard to separate player from part. Memorable support is given by Anthony Perkins as Chaplain Tappman. His innocent realization that no one gives a damn is beautifully conveyed. Martin Balsam, Richard Benjamin, and Jon Voight are superb. Art Garfunkel, Martin Sheen, and Bob Balaban are very impressive and Orson Welles is excellent in two brief scenes. Bob Newhart as Major Major has a major scene and makes a major contribution to the film. Another actor given a single scene, one which sums up the film, is Marcel Dalio, as a 107-year-old man. His moving conversation with Garfunkel makes the kind of sense that hurts. I did not care for Buck Henry's performance, but cannot castigate him too much since he transposed Joseph Heller's complex novel to the screen with consummate skill. The women in the film, Paula Prentiss, Susanne Benton (Looking quite Betty Boopish), and Olympia Carlisli, have little to do but look good, and they are certainly good to look at. Technically, Sam O'Steen's editing and David Watkin's cinematography are impeccable. The action shots and pyrotechnics staged by director Ander Marton are marvelous, particularly the cockpit scenes with bombs bursting and shrapnel slicing through steel and flesh. The amount of care that was put into "Catch-22" is no more evident than during the scene in Major Major's office. As he dictates his orders to a subordinate, the viewer notices that there is picture of FDR on the wall, just as it should be, or is there? Look closely, or see the film again and again. In a few years run an arthritic finger through a thesaurus and under the word "brilliant" expect to find "Catch-22" with Mike Nichol's nae in parenthesis.
Here’s the full article as it appeared in College Times, in case you want to check my transcribing.