User ReviewsReview this title
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.
A lot of the humor is juvenile, cruel and silly. And while I get that's the point – nothing can be more deeply juvenile, cruel and silly than war, it got repetitive and heavy handed after a while. The performances are good, but beyond Robert Duvall, none of the characters have much in the way of dimensions. People stay exactly what we think they are from the moment we meet them.
Walter Chow makes a good argument on the web site 'Film Freak Central', that the sexism, homophobia, etc are the whole point. Altman is saying we're ALL beasts at heart, even if we act like we're bucking the system. It's an interesting idea, but I'm not sure I buy it's what Altman was intending.
From the opening shots we feel the slow mood of the film, yet if we look a little closer, we see comedy and havoc all around. This is in my opinion, Altman's finest piece - the film is superbly shot, showing fantastic long shots, typical of the era. Elliot Gould has never been so cool, and Donald Sutherland's dryness is sublime. The cast as a whole are the driving force behind this movie - the actor's clearly have taken time to learn their character's, and it really shows, right down to Radar's communication with the field Marshall (or whatever he is). It is very much a character driven movie.
The football game just shows what these people are really like - fun, scheming, lovable cheats - but it pays off because the opposition is so loathsome.
Beautifully written, shot, acted and the rest. Without a shadow of a doubt this is a 10 out of 10 and one of the best comedies around.
The atmosphere resembles that of a school playground with bullying towards non-conformists being much in evidence. Conformity here is of course alcoholism, gambling and womanising. Again, this would be fine if the film makers intended this moral inversion and reversion to adolescence as being a bad side effect of war, in a sort of Lord of the Flies way, but the impression is that the lawless pack are the good guys while anyone who represents order is to be humiliated simply because this is "fun". Doing things by the book is such a drag, maaan.
Robert Duvall is the first to be mocked, simply because he happens to be praying. He is later punched by Trapper on a thin excuse and for which Trapper receives no punishment. Next he and "hot lips" have their passion broadcast for the amusement of all. The slender justification for this is that he is married, although almost everyone else is ignoring their wedding vows. Duvall is soon goaded into a fight and unjustly carted off in a strait jacket. Hot Lips receives a great deal of ritual humiliation simply because she is not popular. And the repulsive part is we are meant to be laughing AT her not feeling any sympathy for her. She soon has her dignity removed by having the curtain pulled away while she is showering, again to the amusement of a cheering mob. Her desperate plea for justice is treated like a joke by the commander (and the director).
All of this is shocking, but is presented as light entertainment. At no point to we get the impression that the descent into the baying mob mindset is a bad thing. Next the dentist who has concerns over his sexuality tells this to the 'hero' Hawkeye (the priest having heard this in the confession virtually breaks his vows in his eagerness to let Hawkeye know about it). Hawkeye then blabs this sensitive info to everyone who jeer at the dentist and laugh at his intention to commit suicide. He is "cured" of his gayness by a mock last supper (with heavy influence of Da Vinci), mock funeral and then a sexy girl. Hey presto all is alright. Hawkeye and Trapper continue their obnoxious antics in Japan where they treat some nurses with contempt, then gas and make compromising photos of a commander who dared to question them.
At this point the audience is expecting the pair to receive their well deserved comeuppance. Alas, this never comes. Instead the movie lurches into a long football match, which includes a black player called "spear chucker", and which they win by cheating. Perhaps this is meant to be some allegory of war? Since we are shown several images of the opposing team sitting on the bench sharing a joint, I guess the intended message is that the best option in war is to sit on the sidelines and take drugs.
This football sequence also points up the inconsistency in the writing. Hot Lips, having previously opposed the playing of football, suddenly becomes the chief cheerleader. No explanation is given. She is still treated to derogatory comments, and ends up meekly sitting at a poker table obediently watching the men play cards. The Stepford Wives has nothing on Mash.
The writing has this inconsistency throughout. Rambling sequences. General sloppiness. Characters who disappear. Duvall goes early on. Then the young boy he was teaching is taken off "for a few days" by a doctor who notices the boy's high heart rate. We never know what happens to him. The dentist disappears after his moment.
This is not a well made film and a waste of the talent of all involved.
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.)
And of course, as even those who like the movie have pointed out, it doesn't have a plot. It's a series of rather tedious little vignettes that don't amount to very much before it just suddenly ends. The football game has nothing to do with anything. And what the hell is with Hot Lips' sudden huge character change? She's humiliated by the whole camp when they pull her shower down, obviously distraught she breaks down in front of the CO, who then proceeds to agree with the General to just ignore her complaint - and then suddenly she's a brainless bimbo cheerleader supporting the boys and thinking that the referee's gun has just shot someone. Hello? What the hell?
If you want a brilliant movie that satirises the futility and stupidity of war and the military establishment, watch Dr Strangelove. Kubrick knew what he was doing. "Gentlemen! You can't fight in here, this is the war room!" Now that's irony.
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.
The pendulum has swung back a lot since 1970, and for that you still get a sense of the pioneering spirit with which the film was made. The overlapping dialogue. The non-linear, character-driven plot. The caustic humor. The attacks on religion (real religion, as the New York Times noted when the film came out, not false sanctimony but actual belief in God.)
Yes, in those ways the film is as powerful now as it was when it was first released. But you see something else, something audiences didn't see in 1970, so blown away were they by the newness of it. That is the picture runs out of gas halfway through.
You have a powerful beginning, that eerie montage with the strange song "Suicide Is Painless" playing mournfully while doctors, nurses, and orderlies silently rush to relieve choppers of their human cargo. It's quietly effective, immediately giving you a sense of the 4077th MASH unit (looking much bigger and grimmer than it ever did in the TV series) and coming as close as the movie ever does to delivering an effective anti-war statement. The movie builds from there as we meet the various characters, beneficiaries of their actors' strong improvisational work. It feels like real-time eavesdropping on a community of actual human beings. Scenes like Major Burns and Hot Lips' transmitted tryst and Painless Pole's suicide attempt are not as funny as we are meant to think, but they are well shot, especially the Painless Pole bit, the best thing in the movie for pure entertainment. The way all the guys in the Swamp crack up when Painless tells them he's decided to kill himself may be the film's funniest moment.
What happens next feels like a wrong turn. Hot Lips becomes the subject of a camp bet that exposes her to massive humiliation. Call it "indecent" or "politically incorrect," it is just plain wrong, exposing the film's (and its director's) nasty streak toward women and alienating any concern you might have built up for the characters. When she and Burns were targeted before, you had a sense they had it coming because of her overbearing military approach and his blaming orderly Boone for killing a patient. This time, she's a spent force, no threat to anyone, and "a damn good nurse," as Trapper says, just doing her job as best she can despite her earlier bad experience. I'm struck dumb at the idea I'm supposed to be laughing when she rushes into Col. Blake's tent in shock and tears.
The film never recovers. Instead, it veers wildly off course, away from the camp and into two radically pointless subplots, one involving a trip by Hawkeye and Trapper to Japan where they operate on a congressman's son and a sick infant (some sort of parallel there, though lost on me), the other a football game that apparently was director Robert Altman's comment on the folly of war, but to me just shows what happens when you allow your characters to veer off-script for so long you can't make it back to the ending as written. The game takes up too much time, throws in goofy circus music complete with slide whistles, and features the once iron-willed Hot Lips in the role of outlandishly enthusiastic cheerleader for all the people who tormented her so viciously for the duration of the film. Sally Kellerman's performance in the second half of the film is nothing like it was in the first half; it's embarrassingly, cartoonishly bad. Altman should have reined her in, but you get the feeling he was just rushing by then to get it all in the can before the studio figured out what he was up to and took his film away.
Altman was just so much better making "Nashville." Obviously he learned a lot. It's amazing how pasty everyone in this film looks, particularly Donald Sutherland, who seems leprous. No wonder he tried to get Altman fired. So much of the supporting players faded away, and though they do good work, it's not a surprise. They all seem so squalid and ugly as Altman shoots them.
It's interesting comparing the characters here to their counterparts in the TV series. For me, the TV characters are usually preferable. Robert Duvall mines zero comedy from Frank Burns, playing him very seriously in comparison to Larry Linville's more likeably miserable TV Burns. Roger Bowen had a great voice, but is nearly robotic as Blake, having none of McLean Stevenson's panache. What's worse than a pompous moralizing Hawkeye with Groucho affectations? How about that annoying whistle! Even Gary Burghoff, the one real holdover from film to series, plays a nastier Radar in the movie, meaner, tougher, less innocent.
The whole film is mean, tough, less innocent. It gets points from me for that. Altman and his cast develop a magnificent mood right away. But they fail to do very much with it. "MASH" is a great 45-minute-long movie that just goes on too long.
After falling in love with the TV show, I thought I'd see what spawned it. I wish I hadn't. This horrible movie (1/10 only because I could not give a 0) has forever put a shadow on my view of the TV show. This movie is bad beyond words. In the show, the lead characters, Hawkeye and Trapper, are nice, friendly guys who have developed a morbid sense of humor to keep from going insane. In the movie, these two characters are just plain mean. They take an instant disliking to Frank Burns just because he's religious. Then they do everything they can to get him kicked out of the army (this happens early on, so this isn't a spoiler). And the worst part of it is, Frank Burns is probably the nicest, most likeable character in the movie.
How such a piece of trash could inspire one of the greatest TV series of all time is beyond me. And now that question will be stuck in my mind for the rest of my life whenever I watch the show.
I had watched the TV show for a long time before I finally got to watch the movie - I prefer the cynical comedy of the film although I have always loved the more sitcom style approach of the series. Many critics have hailed this as an anti-war film that exposes the brutal effects of war; to some extent I suppose that is true but it is far from being a part of the main narrative - even to call it a theme would be generous! It does have some scenes of blood and gore but it is far from having anything substantial to say about the cruelty of war.
Instead I always find this film to be a very episodic, freewheeling comedy, some bits of which work and some others don't. On the whole it is pretty funny and uses the sort of sporadic dialogue and action to move it forward. At times it is based on imaginative banter between Trapper and Hawkeye and at others it is out and out slapstick such as the chaotic game of American football at the end of the film. The downside of this is that sections of it just don't work - Painless Paul's dilemma is pretty uninspiring at least - however, on the whole it is energetic and very funny. Altman's use of overlapping dialogue and his usual use of overlapping scenes as opposed to a traditional narrative flow is good here but it would have been better if it had been toned down somewhat.
The cast is what really carries the film - the plot is weak and they have no characters other than what they create themselves and, although the dialogue is good, I couldn't help the feeling that the cast did as much as the writers. As such the lead two of Sutherland and Gould stand out as great comedians with great witty touches, their characters are the largest and their lines are the funniest. Skerritt starts out as equal to them but quickly becomes a third wheel despite still giving a good performance. The support cast are all a good mix of characters whether they be played by actors such as Duvall and Kellerman or less well known faces such as Burghoff or Bowen.
Overall, I am still unable to see what those who call this a `brutal anti-war film' see but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it as a comedy. As such though, it is very episodic and really lacks a solid narrative flow meaning that any 10 minute period could be good or bad. Aside from this lack of substance it is a funny, enjoyable comedy but it doesn't deserve the classic reputation that it has obtained.
1) A U.S. Army hospital unit in war-torn Korea in the early 1950s;
2) Wounded soldiers and civilians being rushed into the compound via helicopters, trucks and jeeps -- to be operated on by incredibly talented surgeons who, in their off hours, are womanizing party animals and who have little or no respect for authority;
3) Fine, dedicated, caring nurses;
4) Medical personnel, faced with the bloody, gory realities of war, act crazy to keep from GOING crazy;
5) A ranking surgeon, who is somewhat less than competent, is romantically involved with the by-the-book, strong-willed regular army chief nurse,
6) A commanding officer who is not exactly a born leader;
7) The place seemingly being run by a shrewd, but innocent young clerk who seems to know things are going to happen before they do.
8) War is Hell; The Army is stupid.
It's all brilliant, inventive, and very original.
Unfortunately, in this movie, something goes wrong following the establishment of the above-mentioned wonderful basics, and the film loses that wonderful feel at just about the mid point.
For one thing, the less-than-competent ranking surgeon is disposed of relatively early and much too swiftly -- taken away in a straitjacket following an altercation with one of his colleagues.
There is a completely absurd sequence during which the camp dentist -- an educated man, presumably -- wishes to commit suicide for no good reason and is actually fooled into believing that his medical comrades, following a "Last Supper"-like ceremony, have given him a pill that will do the job. He even gets into a coffin, believe it or not, in preparation for his expected demise. This is followed by his friends filing past him and, in turn, paying their last respects. The only thing that makes this ludicrous scene at all watchable, for me, is the terrific acoustic guitar and vocal performance of the "MASH" theme song, "Suicide Is Painless." The dentist, incidentally, seems to be neither confused nor surprised by the fact that he is still alive the next day. (Instead of dying after taking the pill, he had been helped through his "crisis" by a very kind and desirable young nurse.)
Not long afterward, the unruly-yet-skilled surgeons travel to Japan to play some golf and, oh, operate on a congressman's son and help a sick infant . . . along the way disrupting a hospital, drugging and framing a colonel, and telling off a snooty head nurse.
Eventually comes a much-too-long, totally-out-of-place scene in which the MASH unit hustles another army outfit in a game of football by bringing in a "ringer" and drugging the other team's star -- who inexplicably is oblivious to a needle being stuck into his arm after being tackled. Where the football uniforms, equipment, field, scoreboard, goal posts and referees come from is a mystery. Incidentally, during this segment, the aforementioned by-the-book, strong-willed regular army chief nurse is magically transformed into a brainless pom-pom girl, enthusiastically cheering the very maniacs who have been harassing and humiliating her throughout the movie . . . and pretty much getting everything wrong.
Add to all of this the fact that the "M" in MASH stands for Mobile, yet this particular MASH unit never moves even *once* during the entire film.
All in all, a beautiful original concept which got lost somewhere along the way.
Luckily for us all, a group of very talented individuals later took all of those great "basics" of this movie which I mentioned at the start of this comment and transformed them into just about the greatest television series of all time. When you play the TV series DVDs, and eliminate the chuckle track, you are treated to what this movie quite possibly could have and maybe should have been.
Asked to give this movie a 1-10 number rating, I gave it a 7 (5 for the movie itself, plus an extra 2 for giving the TV series its initial main characters, a setting, and a visual style).
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.
I readily confess, of course, that (as with almost everyone born in the 1960's or later) my introduction to and conception of MASH is the TV series. It's truly difficult for me to relate to Donald Sutherland as Hawkeye Pierce, for example. Not that he, or any of the actors, did a bad job. It's just that the TV series is so ingrained in my mind that it's hard to see different actors putting their unique spins on familiar characters. Hawkeye, Trapper John (Elliott Gould), Frank Burns (Robert Duvall), Hot Lips Houlihan (Sally Kellerman) and Col. Blake (Roger Bowen) are portrayed very differently than their TV counter-parts. That's fine (and the actors did well) but it's still disconcerting.
The problems I felt with this movie went far beyond the difficulties involved with relating to an unfamiliar cast playing familiar characters, though. The story focuses on the experiences of Captains Pierce and Duke Forrest (Tom Skerritt) at the 4077 MASH in the Korean War. It opens with their arrival and closes with their discharge. But to me the movie lacks any clear focus or consistency. It doesn't seem to be building to anything and in the end it just fizzles out quietly without any real climax. The zany antics of the doctors come across here as mean-spirited more than fun, and there's way too much emphasis on the football game between the 4077 and the 325th Evac. I mean - who really cares? To me, this movie didn't even seem to have a strong anti-war message. Anti-military perhaps, but not anti-war (and the two are not the same thing, in my opinion.)
I realize that I'm not in tune here with most people's thinking, but as far as I'm concerned the best thing about this movie is actually hearing the words to the familiar MASH theme: "Suicide Is Painless." I also appreciated the fact that, this being a motion picture rather than a TV series, the horrors of war (ie, the wounds of the soldiers) could be more graphically (and therefore more soberingly) portrayed. Aside from that, nothing much here appealed to me.
Many years later, I saw M*A*S*H* the movie. I couldn't believe that such a wonderful series could be based off such a horrible movie. I have watched it several times since and my opinion gets lower everytime, I see it.
Hawkeye and Trapper John were total scumbags that should be sitting in a stockade. They sexually harass women non-stop, misuse their medical authority, and are a bunch of drunks. They are not generally nice doctors caught up in a horrible war, like in the TV series. These guys are just nasty punks.
The great "comedy" of this movie, just isn't there, be it black comedy, straight, slapstick or whatever. A plot of any kind doesn't exist. And the whole thing is plain boring. And the editing of every copy that I have ever watched sucks, making for a very disjointed experience.
And to top it off, this movie is hardly anti-war, at all. I cannot understand, how it ever could have been considered, as such.
If you want good comedy, great characters, and very sad and moving anti-war material, watch the series. If you wanna see confusing, meaningless crap, then watch the movie.
I can see why Gould and Sutherland became stars in the 70's. I can also why Tom Skerrit and Joann Phlug did not.
The film just went on and on with that American football game. Certainly no classic.
Today the film looks old and overrated and the political sarcasm seems very weak, actually. There's no doubt that Altman wanted to do an antihero film, but after all "MASH" is a portrait of doctors who make jokes and tries to survive with humor. Themes like stupidity and horror of war are not treated, there isn't an analysis of this. Where's the antimilitarist message?
Even if it's an Altman movie, the film looks like a long TV movie. The director made much better movies. The only interest here, to me, is seeing young actors like Donald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Tom Skerritt, Robert Duvall, René Auberjonois and Sally Kellerman.
As anyone familiar with the TV show spawned by this film knows, MASH is the story of 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. It primarily follows the exploits of surgeons Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and Trapper John (Elliot Gould) as they joke their way through bloody surgery and dealing with Army bureaucracy. There's really not much of a plot to the film. It's just the characters moving from one situation to the next, mostly becoming more absurd as they go along.
There aren't that much more than a handful of real jokes in the movie and most of them are the simplest sort of slapstick. Almost all of the alleged humor of MASH comes out of the characters' irreverent attitude toward each and every thing around them. But being irreverent isn't always the same as being funny. Sometimes being irreverent is just being a jackass and in the case of MASH, sometimes it's just being a cruel child lashing out at anyone different than you.
My problem with this movie started with the scene where Hawkeye and his fellow newly arrived doctor, Duke (Tom Skerrit), encounter Major Frank Burns (Robert Duvall). As they enter their tent, they find Frank trying to teach a young Korean boy how to read, and he's using the Bible to do it. Hawkeye and Duke find this to be odd and somewhat offensive behavior and give the boy a girlie magazine to look at instead. Later on, Frank prays for the safety of U.S. soldiers in the field, their commanders on the ground and their Commander-In-Chief and again, Hawkeye and Duke find this behavior objectionable and openly mock and deride Frank for praying. And it's very clear that the movie wants us to agree that Frank's actions are strange, bad and laughable. But the movie never bothers to explain why.
Trying to teach a Korean kid to read English is a noble thing, especially because the movie never implies that the kid has any real education to speak of and in contrast to the way the movie's "heroes" treat him as nothing more than a servant. Praying for the well being of others should be about the most unobjectionable thing anyone can do, yet MASH implies it shouldn't be tolerated in polite company. Frank Burns is constantly treated like a terrible person, but Duvall's Frank isn't the complete weasel that Larry Linvile portrayed on TV. The only sin Duvall's Frank ever commits is being a little uptight. He never does anything any normal person would consider that bad, yet because he doesn't think and act the way Hawkeye and Trapper John do he's subjected to cruel torments and physical violence.
It's even worse for Major Margaret O'Houlihan (Sally Kellerman). Again, her only real offense is being a little uptight. But she's repeatedly subjected to the most vicious sorts of humiliations and unlike Frank, who at least gets to strike back at his tormentors, "Hot Lips" laps up the abuse like a whipped dog and later in the film grinningly pals around with the very people who treated her like the lowest form of garbage.
I can only imagine that MASH was supposed to reflect the cultural attitudes of the day. Audiences were supposed to identify with Hawkeye and the gang as "us" and laugh uproariously as they heaped abuse on "them". But if the narcissistic, crude, intolerant, vindictive, sadistic and awful thinking and attitudes embodied by this film really did represent the true face of the late1960s/early 1970s no one should be surprised that there are so many people who deeply despise that era and everything it stood for.
Please subtract 1 from my score and find that you have arrived at zero.
piece; I'm a big fan of most of his work. Therefore it's difficult for
me to submit an unfavorable comment in reference to this particular
film, which is thought of by most as one of his finest. Unfortunately, I
find myself in the minority.
I saw it for the first time about midway through the exceptionally long
run of the television series, of which I am a huge fan. I've been told
more than once that my intense dislike of the film stems from having
seen and grown accustomed to the TV show first. This is simply not true,
I've forced myself to watch the movie a number of times and I am still
The most distinct feature that bothers me about the movie is the
casting, which is a bizarre phenomenon considering the fact that I'm a
fan of nearly every single primary cast member. It just seemed as though
most of the principal characters were taken out of their element in
terms of the strengths of their talents.
Take for instance Robert Duvall in the role of Frank Burns. How often,
before or sense has he tried to play a no holds barred nincompoop? I
don't know, but in my opinion this wasn't a successful attempt, in my
opinion he's simply too intelligent. I had the same problem with Sally
Kellerman. I just don't see her as a comedic nymphomaniac nitwit nurse.
Her portrayal of "Hot lips" actually seemed to come across more like
what I perceive to be her true self, sexy and serious.
On the other side of the coin, the remainder of the surgeons from the
Swamp, Donald Sutherland (Hawkeye) in particular, came across as
complete idiots. This I attribute as much to bad writing as improper
casting. Looking back on it, history proves that Sutherland has a gift
for playing eccentric characters. With this in mind he might have been
wonderful in the role of Frank Burns.
Thank goodness they didn't try to make the TV series with Gary Burghoff,
(Radar), talking in anticipation over everything that was being said to
him. I'll say this; if I'd seen the movie first that might have been a
little less irritating, it certainly couldn't have been worse.
If you haven't already seen this movie then certainly don't avoid it
based on a my lack of enthusiasm. There are still enough diehard fans
out there to keep *MASH* on the list as very significant cult classic
movie. For me, that's says enough when deciding