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MASH (1970)

 -  Comedy | War | Drama  -  March 1970 (USA)
7.7
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 49,743 users   Metascore: 79/100
Reviews: 215 user | 110 critic | 7 from Metacritic.com

The staff of a Korean War field hospital use humor and hijinks to keep their sanity in the face of the horror of war.

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Title: MASH (1970)

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 20 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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Roger Bowen ...
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'Me Lai' Marston
Indus Arthur ...
Lt. Leslie
Ken Prymus ...
PFC. Seidman
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Sgt. Gorman
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Storyline

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 Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You're not a real M*A*S*H fan until you've seen the original. (1982 re-release) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | War | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for sexual content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| |

Release Date:

March 1970 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

M*A*S*H  »

Box Office

Budget:

$3,500,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$81,600,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (PG)

Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One innovation of Robert Altman was the almost constant overlaying of dialogue: as many as four conversations could be happening at once in a given shot. While this was considered unorthodox and revolutionary at the time, Altman's instinct was vindicated when audiences agreed that the technique contributed to the feeling that war was "messy and confusing". The technique has been emulated on several occasions since. See more »

Goofs

The mileage post that appears just before the pool table scene incorrectly lists 'The Bronx' as 'Bronx'. Not a native New Yorker, Altman missed the error in the final cut. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Lt. Col. Henry Braymore Blake: Radar.
Cpl. Walter 'Radar' O'Reilly: Yes, sir. I'll get ahold of Major Burns...
Lt. Col. Henry Braymore Blake: I want you to get a hold of Major Burns...
Cpl. Walter 'Radar' O'Reilly: ...Tell him to hold a couple day surgeons over into the night shift.
Lt. Col. Henry Braymore Blake: Tell him we're going to have hold a couple of surgeons over from the day shift out of the night shift.
Cpl. Walter 'Radar' O'Reilly: I'll put in a call to General Hammond in Seoul...
Lt. Col. Henry Braymore Blake: Get General Hammond down there in Seoul, tell him to send us those new surgeons right away.
Cpl. Walter 'Radar' O'Reilly: ...I hope he sends us those two new surgeons. We're sure gonna need'em.
[Leaves]
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

Robert Altman cast so many unknowns in the movie that after one or two known actors, the cast credits all say "Introducing" See more »

Connections

Referenced in P.R.O.F.S. (1985) See more »

Soundtracks

The Washington Post
(1889) (uncredited)
Written by John Philip Sousa
Played during the football game
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Anti-war? Gimme a break!
9 August 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I thought Altman's "Nashville" was brilliant. "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" was a solidly "different" western. MASH, on the other hand, manages to bore and rankle at the same time.

What's right with MASH: ingenious innovations in technique, like a loudspeaker within the movie helping to announce the final credits and a comic eating scene shot to resemble the layout of Da Vinci's "Last Supper." Clever! Yawn. (These bits neither advance the plot, contribute to characterization or ambiance, or do anything except exist. Some viewers will laugh at the moment of recognition, but playful directing doesn't make a good film all by itself.) Another possible innovation is the use of a Simon&Garfunkly theme ("Suicide is Painless") that has no bearing on the movie or much else in the world. If Altman thought this bit up all by himself, it's clever. Yawn.

The cast does the best they can with so little of interest to work with.

I didn't find MASH funny, for reasons that many others have mentioned. Its worst sin against humor, to my mind, is that the "fun" here is based entirely on a the antics of a few angry and arrogant narcissists. I'd have called them "psychos," but that would make them sound too interesting. The fact that they're also brilliant surgeons doesn't outweigh their mental-health issues, unless you get a lump in the throat just watching SOB's save lives.

"All Quiet on the Western Front" is anti-war. "Paths of Glory" is anti-war. You don't need to be told that because they show war itself as cruel and dehumanizing, right up on the big screen.

"MASH" is not antiwar, and would be pretty poor even it were, because most of the dehumanizing is done by the protagonists themselves. It was *marketed* as antiwar (something quite different) because being antiwar *sold* in 1970. The posters that showed a peace sign morphing into a leggy babe had nothing to do with the movie except to convince people that it was "anti-war" and therefore great, sexy, hilarious, and more than worth the price of admission. In fact, MASH is none of these things.

Hawkeye, Trapper John, and their buddies are not against war or even *the* war. They do and say nothing about any war. All they do and say is whatever they feel like, tormenting female nurses, outsmarting superior officers, taking their petty vengeance and unmotivated peevishness out on everyone around them. Sound funny? Wrong. The Marx Bros. might have been able to pull it off, but not this crew.

MASH is anti-authority, but that's a whole lot different from being anti-war. MASH is also anti-military, but in a motiveless way (unless raking in the bucks was a motive). All the army ever did to these distinguished surgeons was to replace, temporarily of course, their zillion-dollar a year civilian careers with the opportunity to play golf, football, and crude practical jokes while occasionally saving of patients whom they obviously do not give a **** about personally.

The primary "anti-war" message here is that surgical operations involve lots of blood squirting around. That's it. Why not say MASH was is "anti-surgery" or "anti-medical profession" movie? Because that would nail the picture for the fraud it really is.

(Note: I know that medical students can be krazy kut-ups, especially when it comes to spare cadavers. MASH is a lot less funny.)


14 of 26 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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