“SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE” (1972) Starring Michael Sacks, Ron Leibman, Valerie Perrine, Eugene Roche, Perry King, Kevin Conway. Directed by George Roy Hill. Written by Stephen Geller based on the novel by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. When the film of a seemingly unfilmable novel manages to capture not only the substantive essence but the tone of it’s literary source, you know you’re seeing something special. Director George Roy Hill was an odd bird, capable of a complete surrender to crass commercialism (see “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”) yet still capable of direct, intelligent artistry in the service of that same commercialism. His film of “Slaughterhouse-Five” is a latter such film, confidently crafted with a superbly intelligent script adaptation, a roster of perfectly cast performers stressing type not star power and gossamer-like editing from the brilliant Dede Allen which effortlessly translates Vonnegut’s conceit of Billy Pilgrim’s becoming “unstuck in time” with the graceful ease of a page turning, despite the fact the page turning is out of sequence and perfectly capable of confusing the audience with a seeming randomness; though “seeming” is the operative word, as there is an intelligent design at work in which each jarring transportation is met with corresponding, collaborative elements from one sequence to another.
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