CineSavant Column

Saturday June 10, 2023



Helpful correspondent Michael McQuarrie sends along a YouTube link for a TV pilot I’ve never heard of . . . someone had the unmitigated gall to turn Joseph Heller’s surreal nightmare into a goofy TV show. It worked for M*A*S*H . . . but please . . . the damn thing uses a laugh track.

The half-hour 1973 pilot show Catch 22 is a jaw-dropper . . . the small-screen version puts the Mike Nichols film on the same level as McHale’s Navy, but minus the occasional laughs. As Yossarian, we have … wait for it … Richard Dreyfuss. He was better as a wacked-out Baby Face Nelson in the same year’s Dillinger — no real characterization, but funny as hell.

Is it possible that this came about because Paramount wanted to put hours of unused feature footage to use?  Some of the flying stuff looks new, specially shot for the pilot. In addition to Richard Dreyfuss, the show stars Dana Elcar and Susanne Zenor. Neal Hefti did the music and Richard Quine directed. Amazing.



A monster box arrived unannounced yesterday from Arrow Video, entitled Enter the Video Store: Empire of Screams. Good old film & video swashbuckler Charles Band is suspected revered as the man behind several studio labels of fantastic exploitation, first on film and later on direct-to-video. His biggest success was his studio Empire Films in the 1980s. The boxed set’s nostalgic theme is a vintage video store, for those misguided earnest fans of ’80s schlock fantasy & Horror.

The titles included are The Dungeonmaster, Dolls, Cellar Dweller, Arena and Robot Jox, all remastered for Blu-ray. Three of them are directed by Stuart Gordon.

The appeal is the bounty of special features and extras, all delineated here. Someone should compile a ‘Big Book of Stories’ about the companies Empire, Full Moon, etc. …. that would be eye-opening. I once had a meeting with Charles Band veteran John Carl Buechler, who was looking for an editor. It was an opportunity to work for free, on a script that was unreadable! ┬áBut he seemed a very nice guy.

Thanks for reading! — Glenn Erickson