time it was done in a mainstream movie. It was very private; we shot it out on a raft. I’m very proud I did it.”
In the director’s commentary for the film’s 2001 DVD release, Nichols reveals a lot of fun tidbits. Cinematographer David Watkin wanted the light to look the same in every shot, so most of the film was photographed between 2 and 3 p.m., which meant people sat around waiting for a long time. The errant B-25 that swung out of formation headed for the control tower, where Nichols was seated. Olimpia Carlisi, the Italian actress playing Yossarian’s girlfriend, couldn’t speak a word of English, so she delivered her lines phonetically.
Nichols also recalled with glee how he and Watkin decided to bomb the buildings surrounding Arkin and Sheen in a scene in which German planes strafe the American air base. “It scared the hell out of me,” Arkin said. “They blew up the whole airfield.”
Benjamin recalls another odd scheduling system on the set. “You worked in terms of weather. We got up when it was dark and went to this place where they posted who worked in what kind of weather. It would be: Paula Prentiss works when it’s cloudy-bright, Benjamin works when it’s cloudy-dull, and Arkin works when it’s bright-bright. It was so dark out when we read this that nobody knew what kind of day it was, so we would all be standing there arguing, ‘I don’t work today; this is cloudy-bright!’ Or ‘No, it’s cloudy-dull. You work; I’m going back to sleep.’ And even when the sun came up, nobody knew what kind of day it was!”
John Wayne asked for permission to land his plane on the set’s landing strip. He was making a Western in Mexico. Accounts differ as to why Wayne felt snubbed. “We didn’t know if he wanted to be bothered or not, so we stayed away until we got word he was at this bar and that he was unhappy that nobody went out to see him, so we all went,” Benjamin said. “He was great. Paula had made a movie with Wayne, In Harm’s Way , and she had gotten along very well with him.” Arkin recalls that story differently. “It was a politically difficult time in this country, so nobody went out to say hello. I went out to greet him. He was big.”
“He is intimidating,” Prentiss recalled of Wayne. “Maybe the other people thought they would be intimidated by such a good-looking,