Nurse Lt. Ruth McGara is assigned to a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit near the front lines of the Korean War. There she meets and is roughly romanced by Major Jed Webbe, one of the unit's surgeons. Webbe is pushy and seems to care only for momentary pleasures, but McGara falls for him just the same. Their romance blossoms in the midst of overwhelming numbers of casualties, threats from the enemy and from the weather, and emergency evacuations that test the mettle of even a unit whose very name suggests quick mobility. Written by
Jim Beaver <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The film originally had a different title but the studio and the director thought that title would mislead audiences, so "Battle Circus" was instead chosen. The original title that was rejected was "MASH 66," which referred to the same Mobile Army Surgical Hospital unit in the Korean War later made famous in both the film MASH and the TV series _"M.A.S.H." (1972)_. See more »
The aircraft strafing the hospital at the beginning of the movie have USAF markings. See more »
Third rate Bogart and Brooks would be fifth rate with anyone else
It's hard to believe that Richard Brooks (he of "In Cold Blood" and "The Professionals") directed this. Having coincidentally seen another Korean War film, "One Minute to Zero," immediately before this one, I can vouch for the fact that "Battle Circus" is a major improvement. However, that in itself is no great recommendation. Humphrey Bogart is his usual excellent self, professional and expert in his handling of the role of a MASH unit doctor. And June Allyson is endearing and fine in her role as the nurse who loves him. But despite the fact that plenty of screen romances have survived a greater age difference between couples than the 18 years that separates Bogart and Allyson, Bogart just comes off as uncomfortably old to be pulling the kind of shenanigans he tries with Allyson here. Never mind that in real life Bogart's fairy-tale romance with Lauren Bacall was between two people 25 years apart in age -- this is the movies, and at 53, Bogart seems slightly creepy, forcing his attentions on a young nurse and getting somewhat pissy when she dares to ask if he has a wife. Nonetheless the performances are good and occasionally overcome a difficult script (difficult not in complexity but in mediocrity). Robert Keith, who seems to have managed a long Hollywood career without ever varying his performances one whit, does what he always does as Bogart's commanding officer. Keenan Wynn is substantial and believable as the tough sergeant who keeps things running. But outside of a couple of intense moments (such as the one where a terrified North Korean soldier -- Philip Ahn -- threatens to blow up the operating room), the movie hovers like a helicopter over the no-man's land between drama and soap opera, unable quite to make up its mind where to set down.
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