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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 ... Written by
I knew that the movie had a much harder edge to it than the TV series, but I was not prepared for the disappointment I endured when I finally saw the movie. Over and over I kept saying to myself "THIS is the classic I've heard such rave reviews about?" As so many others have noted, the movie displays a wide streak of misogyny, the main characters are supremely smug and unlikable, no plot to speak of, the endless football game is silly and belongs in another movie, the film itself is grainy and difficult to watch, and in general the movie carries a very ugly and mean-spirited tone. However I would be willing to overlook all those flaws if the movie made me laugh. But it didn't. Not even once.
I look at MASH as a product of its times. In the context of 1970 and the Vietnam War it was an audacious statement and by most accounts was a groundbreaking film. But audacity alone does not make for a good film, and when viewed today MASH seems dated and a bit ridiculous.
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