5.8/10
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29 user 8 critic

Battle Circus (1953)

Approved | | Drama, Romance, War | 6 March 1953 (USA)
Set in Korea and made during the war, this is the love story of a hard-bitten Army surgeon, and a new nurse ready to save the world.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Maj. Jed Webbe
... Lt. Ruth McGara
... Sgt. Orvil Statt
... Lt. Col. Hilary Walters
... Capt. John 'Rusty' Rustford
Perry Sheehan ... Lt. Laurence
... Lt. Rose Ashland
... Lt. Jane Franklin
... Adjutant
Ann Morrison ... Lt. Edith Edwards
Helen Winston ... Lt. Graciano
Sarah Selby ... Capt. Dobbs
Danny Chang ... Korean Child
... Korean Prisoner
... Sergeant
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Storyline

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 <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

M-G-M's great drama of desire under fire!

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

6 March 1953 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

MASH 66  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,201,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$1,627,000, 31 December 1953

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$2,362,000, 31 December 1953
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The opening scene in the TV series pays homage to the one in Battle Circus complete with helicopter landing at camp. See more »

Goofs

Major Webbe and many others in his unit are seen carrying and using firearms. Medical personnel of the U.S. Armed Forces are forbidden to carry and use firearms. See more »

Connections

Featured in Great Performances: Bacall on Bogart (1988) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Many small moments of candor and skill don't patch up this mediocre mash-up
27 September 2014 | by See all my reviews

Battle Circus (1953)

An awkward movie with really uneven acting and some routine (or worse) dialog. Even the battle actions scenes, which have along history of success in Hollywood, are sometimes clumsy. You have to accept all this up front to get anywhere further here and appreciate the sincere shreds of insight into a little known aspect of war, and of the Korean War in particular at the time—the mobile hospitals that followed the front line fighting.

Of course MASH the movie and then MASH the t.v. show took the idea and made it everyday material (with a not-so-hidden commentary on the Vietnam war). "Battle Circus" is unusual in coming right as the "Korean Conflict" was ending (the war ended in 1953), and a decade before Vietnam grew into an actual war for the U.S. And so it is very interesting—if you are a student of war, and war movies, that is. It's a bit of a slog as a drama, however, even watching the kinds of vehicles in use or the hardships of weather and war. The methods of setting up these hospitals so quickly is quite accurate and the army cooperated with some of the filming.

There is also Humphrey Bogart. When an actor reaches his kind of fame, even his lesser movies take on meaning. He has a central role as a leading officer in the group, and of course he has near-misses and a few near-kisses with the women—nurses—who are the center of activities. He's portrayed as a womanizing, practical man, not especially nice but eventually very admirable—like many of his characters, in fact.

Some of the scenes are quite serious and strong, taken by themselves. But they get beaten down by the stiff romance that is forced on Bogart and his counterpart, June Allyson. She has to play a naive, smart, well-meaning "girl next door" and while that might be the truth sometimes, it makes for a kind of false set-up, and she's a lightweight presence.

So the movie stumbles along in a weird zone. The decision of Altman making MASH to turn it truly comic was essential (the humor here is rare and flat, like falling in the mud). So tune out in the love scenes and get absorbed in the genuine intensity of the best of the staged war scenes and the hospital dynamics. The title, by the way, is suggested very early when Allyson cheerfully says that moving the tents every few days is just like a real circus on the move.


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