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
Alan Alda said the Hawkeye character he portrayed was different from the Hawkeye played by Donald Sutherland in Robert Altman's film of M*A*S*H, released in 1970. (Both were based on Richard Hooker's 1968 novel, MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors.) "Sutherland's Hawkeye seemed very depressed. Larry Gelbart's character was much more lively, he had a sardonic sense of humor," Alda said, adding that Sutherland's Hawkeye was married, while his was not. Alda also said the Hawkeye he depicted "seemed so far from me. I had no idea how to play a womanizer who drank too much, was a smart aleck. I had to figure out how to be that person." Another difference between the movie and television versions of M*A*S*H, Alda said, was that the latter "could go back show after show. We could explore the characters in a way no movie could. The characters could deepen, they could change in their relationships with each other." See more »
Trapper tells a joke about the racehorse Man o' War, saying that the horse died at age 36. Man O' War only lived to be 30 in reality. See more »
The announcer on the camp P.A. throughout the film several times announces the movie that will be shown in the mess tent that evening, with a description and list of stars in it. Near the end of the film, in the last scene, the P.A. announcer says "Attention. Tonight's movie has been MASH. Follow the zany antics of our combat surgeons as they cut and stitch their way along the front lines, operating as bombs and bullets burst around them, snatching laughs and love between amputations and penicillin. Follow Hawkeye, Trapper, Duke, Dago Red, Painless, Radar, Hot Lips, Dish, and staff sergeant Vollmer, as they put our boys back together again. Starring ..." and then lists the actors. See more »
Some of the scenes that were altered in the US "PG" version:
The arterial spurting from the neck of a patient in the operating room was removed.
When O'Houlihan is surprised in the shower, the tent flap begins to rise but the scene cuts away before seeing her.
M*A*S*H made the reputation of its director Robert Altman, but although Altman's talents are considerable, I think he pulled off a fast one here. The plot careens from place to place, the story doesn't really go anywhere, the script is disjointed, and we don't get nearly the sense of the brutality of war that we see in other films of this period, even the ones that weren't nearly as entertaining. Heck, the TV series did a better job of looking into the utter futility of war. The surgical scenes are somewhat gruesome, but hardly shocking.
I think the sucess of the film and its obvious entertainment value (you will like watching this film) is due to a five star cast from top to bottom. The actors who deservedly made their reputation in this film and give fine performances throughout are Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Robert Duvall, Sally Kellerman, Gary Burghoff and Bud Cort, and that's just the A-team. Heck, I could make a good movie today with just those people. From the stoic Trapper John to the bible thumping adulterer Frank Burns, the characters ring true and are fully fleshed out.
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