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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
This is truly the best military comedy ever made. It is funny, yet it realistically depicts the savagery of war and the non-chalance it gradually inspires in its victims. For example, some of the funniest, yet also most disturbing, moments in the film come when the doctors are operating on wounded soldiers, complete with gruesome sound effects, yet are discussing extremely trivial matters.
The film also benefits from some great performances. Donald Sutherland and Elliot Gould were excellent as Hawkeye and Trapper John. They both had a streak of good movies during the 70s. Robert Duvall is amusing as a pious major whose fanaticism drives our heroes to extreme measures. Sally Kellerman and Tom Skerrit also put in good performances in their roles; it is a pity that these two actors are not better utilized nowadays.
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