MASH (1970)

MASH (1970)
  • 68303
  • R
  • Genre: Comedy
  • Release year: 1970 ()
  • Running time: 116 min
  • Original Title: MASH
  • Voted: 68303

The personnel at the 4077 MASH unit deal with the horrors of the Korean War and the stresses faced in surgery by whatever means. The tone at the MASH is established by recent arrivals, surgeons Captains 'Hawkeye' Pierce, 'Duke' Forrest, and 'Trapper' John McIntyre - the latter who Hawkeye knows he's met somewhere, but Trapper who won't divulge where - whose antics can be best described as non-regulation, and in the negative words of one of their fellow MASH-ers: unmilitary. The unit's commanding officer, Colonel Henry Blake, doesn't care about this behavior as long as it doesn't affect him, and as long as they do their job and do it well, which they do. Their behavior does extremely bother fellow surgeon, Major Frank Burns, and recently arrived head nurse, Major Margaret Houlihan, who obtains the nickname 'Hot Lips' based on information they glean about her through underhanded means. Beyond their battles with Frank and Hot Lips, Hawkeye, Duke and/or Trapper help unit dentist Painless ...

1Donald SutherlandHawkeye Pierce
2Elliott GouldTrapper John McIntyre
3Tom SkerrittDuke Forrest
4Sally KellermanMaj. Margaret 'Hot Lips' O'Houlihan
  • by

    M*A*S*H is a groundbreaking film. Along with Catch 22, M*A*S*H had theaudacity to ridicule two of the pillars of American society: war andreligion. Whether you find this appalling, subversive, treasonous,outrageous or funny depends on your political and religiousorientation. Surely the religious right will find the film blasphemousand the political right will find it treasonous. No matter what yourpoint of view, M*A*S*H is certainly an in-your-face film.

    The irony of the film is that for the time it was considered gruesomelybloody. Yet there are no battlefield scenes; all the blood is in thesurgical unit. The CSI TV series shows more carnage than M*A*S*H, butM*A*S*H was filmed over 30 years ago.

    M*A*S*H is loaded with bizarro characters. Donald Sutherland, ElliotGould, Robert Duvall, Tom Skerrit, Loretta Swit, Radar are all insanein their own way. In "M*A*S*H," everyone is cruel, playing meanpractical jokes and the anti-heroes Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gouldare just plain heartless. They absolutely torment Major "Hot Lips"Hoolihan and Robert Duvall. None of the characters in the film tries tobe funny. There are no jokes. The humor just grows from the situationwhich is the grim reality of a mobile surgical unit whose doctors andnurses try their best to repair the horribly mutilated bodies from aninsane war. Having worked in a hospital setting, outrageous and blackhumor is commonplace, especially in the ER, but in M*A*S*H it's takento a new level.

  • by 10/10

    As comedies go, it doesn't get much better than M*A*S*H! Script,direction, casting, music and acting are all at their very best in thissatirical take on the Korean War - ironically, there is no army actionplayed out during the movie, just the escapades of Elliot Gould, DonaldSutherland, et al where they are stationed to take in casualties ofwar.

    From the opening shots we feel the slow mood of the film, yet if welook a little closer, we see comedy and havoc all around. This is in myopinion, Altman's finest piece - the film is superbly shot, showingfantastic long shots, typical of the era. Elliot Gould has never beenso cool, and Donald Sutherland's dryness is sublime. The cast as awhole are the driving force behind this movie - the actor's clearlyhave taken time to learn their character's, and it really shows, rightdown to Radar's communication with the field Marshall (or whatever heis). It is very much a character driven movie.

    The football game just shows what these people are really like - fun,scheming, lovable cheats - but it pays off because the opposition is soloathsome.

    Beautifully written, shot, acted and the rest. Without a shadow of adoubt this is a 10 out of 10 and one of the best comedies around.

  • by 7/10

    Strange film; basically entertaining, but not exactly a masterpiece.One of the most likable things about Robert Altman is that every filmof his has been in some way an experiment, and almost none of theseexperiments, even the very good ones, work perfectly. This is a greatexample. As is obvious from the many user comments here, it's difficultto talk about "MASH" without comparing it to "M*A*S*H," and in fact themost important cultural thing the film may have done is establish anaesthetic universe for the TV series to exist in (and that really isthe only thing the film and the TV show have in common – as many havepointed out, the tone, style, timing, and even character personalitiesare quite different between the two). But taken on its own, "MASH" isnot really the anti-war polemic it's been made out to be, nor is it thejoke-driven movie comedy we might expect from the series' style.Instead, it's a kind of exercise in black-comic tone; it subverts theidea of war not by explicitly criticizing it, even through jokes, butrather by being exactly the opposite of what we expect a traditionalwar film to be. Here we don't see courage or valor or heroism or honor;we see cowardice and nastiness and vice and stupidity, even from the"good" characters. The movie subtly suggests that war makes ordinarypeople into silly, stupid, and vicious ones, and Hawkeye and Trapperare no more exempt from this law than Frank Burns; in fact, if anythingthey are more angry and mean than he is. This unusual approach to thesubject matter is well-maintained throughout the film, and neverbecomes too harsh or ugly – and yet Altman missteps with some oddlychosen episodes (Painless's "suicide attempt," for instance, and theoverlong, if symbolic, football game), and the ending of the film isabrupt, making what's come before seem even more pointless andinconsequential. Which may be exactly Altman's point, of course . . .so here we have another Altman film that manages to be simultaneouslywitty, jokeless, boring, entertaining, confusing, beautifully thoughtout, artfully constructed and artless, symbolic and realistic. It'srecommended, but viewers should ideally go into it with no expectationswhatsoever. 7 out of 10.

  • by 3/10

    I can't believe people here are comparing M*A*S*H with Dr Strangelove.Brilliant satire? Hardly! Apart from the fact that some of its "darkesthumour" is patently offensive today - "Hot Lips"' complete humiliation asshe's taking a shower, the dentist who thinks he's gay and so has to killhimself (and his decision not to kill himself is only because he finds outhe's not gay), etc - the rest of it is really rather obvious and, well,stupid. Ha ha ha, Trapper John has a go at the head nurse in Japan andusesthe word "tits!" How terribly risque. (yawn).

    And of course, as even those who like the movie have pointed out, itdoesn'thave a plot. It's a series of rather tedious little vignettes that don'tamount to very much before it just suddenly ends. The football game hasnothing to do with anything. And what the hell is with Hot Lips' suddenhugecharacter change? She's humiliated by the whole camp when they pull hershower down, obviously distraught she breaks down in front of the CO, whothen proceeds to agree with the General to just ignore her complaint - andthen suddenly she's a brainless bimbo cheerleader supporting the boys andthinking that the referee's gun has just shot someone. Hello? What thehell?

    If you want a brilliant movie that satirises the futility and stupidity ofwar and the military establishment, watch Dr Strangelove. Kubrick knewwhathe was doing. "Gentlemen! You can't fight in here, this is the war room!"Now that's irony.

  • by 8/10

    This is truly the best military comedy ever made. It is funny, yet itrealistically depicts the savagery of war and the non-chalance it graduallyinspires in its victims. For example, some of the funniest, yet also mostdisturbing, moments in the film come when the doctors are operating onwounded soldiers, complete with gruesome sound effects, yet are discussingextremely trivial matters.

    The film also benefits from some great performances. Donald Sutherland andElliot Gould were excellent as Hawkeye and Trapper John. They both had astreak of good movies during the 70s. Robert Duvall is amusing as a piousmajor whose fanaticism drives our heroes to extreme measures. SallyKellerman and Tom Skerrit also put in good performances in their roles; itis a pity that these two actors are not better utilizednowadays.

1Harold E. Stinecinematographer
2Johnny Mandelcomposer
3Robert Altmandirector
4Ingo Premingerproducer
5Richard Hookerwriter
6Ring Lardner Jr.writer