“Listen: Billie Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.” The opening words of the famous novel are the quickest summary of this haunting, funny film. Director Hill faithfully renders for the screen Vonnegut’s obsessive story of Pilgrim, who survives the 1945 firebombing of Dresden, then lives simultaneously in his past as a young American POW, in the future as a well-cared-for resident of a zoo on the planet Tralfamadore, and in the present as a middle-aged optometrist in Ilium, N.Y. —IMDb
Former Marine pilot George Roy Hill began his career as an actor, debuting with Cyril Cusack’s company at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. He scored a personal success in Strindberg’s “The Creditors” (1950) at the Cherry Lane Theatre, before concentrating on writing and directing for American TV in the 1950s. He scripted and acted in his first work for NBC’s “Kraft Television Theatre”, the autobiographical “My Brother’s Keeper” (1953), inspired by his pilot’s experience of being “talked down” by a ground controller, and “A Night to Remember” (also for “Kraft”), a drama about the sinking of the Titanic, earned him 1956 Emmy nominations as director and co-author. Hill scored a huge success in his Broadway directing debut, the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Look Homeward, Angel” (1957,) and made his feature film debut helming the adaptation of Tennessee Williams’ play “Period of Adjustment” (1962), which he had directed on Broadway.
Hill delighted reviewers (though the box office was meager… read more
I enjoyed the novel, but the sort of stream-of-consciousness time jumping doesn't really work in a movie. Billy Pilgrim doesn't drive the story; he's more like a passenger. Not harrowing enough to be truly profound, nor funny enough to be satirical. Decent performances, and some of the scenes are well staged, but on the whole, it's pretty mediocre.