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
M*A*S*H is a groundbreaking film. Along with Catch 22, M*A*S*H had the audacity to ridicule two of the pillars of American society: war and religion. Whether you find this appalling, subversive, treasonous, outrageous or funny depends on your political and religious orientation. Surely the religious right will find the film blasphemous and the political right will find it treasonous. No matter what your point of view, M*A*S*H is certainly an in-your-face film.
The irony of the film is that for the time it was considered gruesomely bloody. Yet there are no battlefield scenes; all the blood is in the surgical unit. The CSI TV series shows more carnage than M*A*S*H, but M*A*S*H was filmed over 30 years ago.
M*A*S*H is loaded with bizarro characters. Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Robert Duvall, Tom Skerrit, Loretta Swit, Radar are all insane in their own way. In "M*A*S*H," everyone is cruel, playing mean practical jokes and the anti-heroes Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould are just plain heartless. They absolutely torment Major "Hot Lips" Hoolihan and Robert Duvall. None of the characters in the film tries to be funny. There are no jokes. The humor just grows from the situation which is the grim reality of a mobile surgical unit whose doctors and nurses try their best to repair the horribly mutilated bodies from an insane war. Having worked in a hospital setting, outrageous and black humor is commonplace, especially in the ER, but in M*A*S*H it's taken to a new level.
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