The fourteen-year-old son of director Robert Altman, Mike, wrote the lyrics to the theme song "Suicide is Painless". Because of its inclusion in the subsequent television series, he continued to get residuals throughout its run and syndication. His father was paid $75,000 for directing, but his son eventually made about $2 million in song royalties.
The first take of the shot where Hot Lips is revealed in the shower didn't work because Sally Kellerman anticipated the reveal, and was already lying on the floor when the tent flap went up. To distract her, Robert Altman and Gary Burghoff entered the shower tent and dropped their trousers while the shot was rolling outside. While Kellerman was staring at them, the tent flap was raised, resulting in her genuine surprise and shock when she realized what had happened. In the Special Edition double disc DVD, they say that Radar is standing naked beside the camera, and that's the reason why Sally Kellerman looks so surprised when the flap was raised.
According to Johnny Mandel and Robert Altman, the film's famous theme song was intended to be the "stupidest song ever written". After attempting to write the lyrics himself, Altman said he found it too difficult to write "dumb enough", and instead gave to the task to his fourteen-year-old son. Mike Altman allegedly wrote the lyrics in five minutes.
Tom Skerritt recalled that the dialogue was about 80% improvised. In order to create a different kind of atmosphere, Robert Altman cast some of the parts from improvisational clubs who had no previous movie experience.
Robert Altman said that during filming, Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland together went to the studio and complained that Altman was filming too much of the secondary characters. They requested that he be removed from the film, but the studio refused. After the film was completed and received its accolades, only Gould confessed the matter to Altman. As a result, he received parts in other Altman pictures, whereas Robert never used Sutherland again.
The operating scenes were almost cut out due to their graphic nature. However, two women who were visiting the set told the producers that the operating scenes were what made the movie, and should be kept in.
In the opening titles, when a soldier carrying a wounded soldier on a stretcher and when the soldier trips and falls down, it wasn't scripted. It was actually an accident by the actor who tripped over something. Robert Altman decided that instead of editing it out, to use it to foreshadow the dark humor theme as the movie's first small, but real, laugh.
Robert Altman felt that he was able to get away with so much during shooting because the officials at 20th Century Fox were keeping a closer watch on their two massively expensive projects, also war films, Patton (1970) and Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970).
During filming, Donald Sutherland and Elliott Gould became so frustrated with the directorial style of Robert Altman (who often had his actors talk over each other at the same time, to simulate real-life conversation) that they went to the head of production to demand he be fired. They were concerned that the movie would end up as a mess, and a movie disaster at the box office might ruin their careers. They were told by the studio head not to worry, that the movie would only be seen at a few drive-ins across the country, and that hardly anyone would ever see it.
The story goes that when Robert Altman was editing the movie with editor Danford B. Greene, they had nude pinups on the walls of the editing room. The head of post-production came by and tried to stop Altman from using the editing machine, as he wasn't a designated editor, and Altman threw him out of the editing room. The next day, a memo came down from the 20th Century Fox front office stating a new policy that there were to be no pinups on the walls of editing rooms. Altman took the memo to the sound recording studio and added it as one of the loudspeaker announcements during the film.
When studio executives first saw the dailies, they complained to Robert Altman that the soldiers looked dirty compared to the soldiers in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) and Patton (1970). Altman, a veteran of World War II, replied that soldiers in war are dirty. The next day, the executives told the producers of those two films to make their soldiers look dirtier.
According to Robert Altman, this was the first R-rated movie to use the word "fuck" in it, but he claimed that it wasn't his idea. During second unit shooting for the football game that comes near the end of the film, John Schuck was told to say something "really nasty" to his opponent. Schuck came up with "All right, bub, your fucking head is coming right off", and it made it into the film's final cut.
The scene where Father Mulcahy is blessing the Jeep was improvised. Rene Auberjonois found the blessing in a copy of the Army Chaplain's Handbook, and thought it would be a good addition to the story, and to his character. Robert Altman agreed, and the scene was shot in one take.
The opening title sequence has a text that identifies the place as South Korea. This was added at the insistence of the studio, after Robert Altman had removed every reference to South Korea, intending it to be mistaken for Vietnam, which would reinforce the anti-war statement.
Robert Altman was initially considering James Garner for the part of Hawkeye until Donald Sutherland lobbied hard for the role. Garner was a Korean War veteran who had been wounded and treated in a military hospital during the war.
According to Elliott Gould, Sylvester Stallone revealed to him that he was an extra in this film. When Gould later told this to Robert Altman, Altman refused to accept this as fact, because he was not a fan of Stallone's work.
One innovation of Robert Altman was the almost constant overlaying of dialogue: as many as four conversations could be happening at once in a given shot. While this was considered unorthodox and revolutionary at the time, Altman's instinct was vindicated when audiences agreed that the technique contributed to the feeling that war was "messy and confusing". The technique has been emulated on several occasions since.
When the movie was released, the military wanted not to run the movie in their theaters because of its anti-war message. The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled the military could not withdraw the film for this reason. Instead, the military chose to run Patton (1970) in the following week, feeling that film was more complimentary to the military.
The loudspeaker shots and announcements were added after editing had begun, and the filmmakers realized that they needed more transitions. Some of the loudspeaker shots have the Moon visible and were shot while the Apollo 11 astronauts were on the Moon.
Roger Bowen (Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake) died on February 16, 1996. McLean Stevenson, who played the role of Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake on M*A*S*H (1972) for the first three seasons, died on February 15, 1996.
According to Sally Kellerman's memoir, during the scene in this movie when Major Houlihan storms into Colonel Blake's tent after being exposed in the shower, Sally Kellerman shouted her scripted lines at Roger Bowen, and then noticed that Robert Altman was keeping the camera running. Kellerman, not knowing what else to do, continued sobbing her final words of dialogue, "My commission...my commission..." until finally Altman ordered the camera to cut. Following the scene, Altman embraced Kellerman and told her she had finally revealed the vulnerability in the character for which he'd been hoping. Unfortunately, the scene was the final appearance in the script of Houlihan. But because of Altman's delight with Kellerman's improvised performance in the scene, Altman kept her on the film for the duration of the production, and inserted her into additional scenes in which she was not originally scripted, such as her cheerleading the football game, observing the poker playing, and even a scene near the end of the movie which revealed Major Houlihan had become romantically involved with Captain Duke Forrest.
The film is radically different from the novel. Robert Altman described the novel as "pretty terrible" and somewhat "racist" (the only major black character has the nickname "Spearchucker"). He claims that the screenplay was used only as a springboard. However, the screenplay itself reveals that, while there is some improvisation in the film, and although Altman moved major sequences around, most sequences are in the screenplay. The main deletion is a subplot of Ho-Jon's return to the 4077th as a casualty. When Radar steals blood from Henry, it is for Ho-Jon's operation under Trapper and Hawkeye's scalpels. When the surgeons are playing poker after the football game, they are resolutely ignoring a dead body being driven away, Ho-Jon's. The main deviation from the script is the trimming of much of the dialogue.
Robert Altman was originally promised five "points" (a percentage) of the film's profits. After a disagreement between Altman and one of the 20th Century Fox executives, the offer of points was taken back before production began. When the film became a big hit, Altman's agent asked for the points back; the studio was considering it when Altman was quoted in the press saying how much he hated working for 20th Century Fox. He was never given the points back.
Screenwriter Ring Lardner Jr. was the only Academy Award winner out of the movie's five nominations. Lardner practically disowned the movie when he saw that very little of his original script made it into the final cut.
According to Robert Altman, Ring Lardner Jr. was very upset with the liberties taken with his script. Lardner later won an Academy Award for his screenplay. Lardner allegedly told Elliott Gould, "There's not a word that I wrote on screen."
Gary Burghoff is the only actor to play the role of Radar in four out of five incarnations of the M*A*S*H franchise, in this film, M*A*S*H (1972), AfterMASH (1983), and the failed pilot W*A*L*T*E*R (1984). He did not appear in Trapper John, M.D. (1979). The next most frequently returning characters are Trapper John McIntyre (this film, M*A*S*H (1972), and Trapper John, M.D. (1979)), and Father John Francis Patrick Mulcahy (this film, M*A*S*H (1972), and AfterMASH (1983)), although they were each played by three different actors.
This and Catch-22 (1970), two films satirizing recent American wars, were released in the same year. Catch-22 (1970), based on a best-selling novel, featured a huge cast, and boasted director Mike Nichols fresh from his success with The Graduate (1967), was expected to be the more successful film. When the reverse proved to be true, Robert Altman hung a banner in his office reading, "Caught-22".
This was not the first Korean War-based movie to carry the title "MASH." In 1953, Humphrey Bogart starred in a film also about a MASH unit by the same title. But the studio thought the title might make audiences think it was about potatoes, so the title was changed to Battle Circus (1953).
This film was among the first to be released on home video. In 1977, 20th Century Fox licensed fifty of its titles to a fledgling video duplication company called Magnetic Video Corporation. 20th Century Fox purchased the company in 1978, laying the groundwork for its current successful video operation.
According to George Litto, when studio executives first saw the film, they handed Robert Altman "ten pages of notes for cuts and changes they wanted made", then producer Ingo Preminger arranged a test screening in San Francisco. By the time Hawkeye was stealing the Jeep, the audience was openly applauding the film, and executive Richard D. Zanuck allegedly said "Tell Bob to forget about my notes."
For "Hot Lips" shower scene, Robert Altman had to deploy a few distractions. Sally Kellerman had never appeared nude on-screen before, and in early takes of the scene, she was dropping to the ground before the point of the moment was even made clear. So Robert Altman had to think of distractions to get her to pause before falling to the ground. These included Gary Burghoff standing naked in front of her, and Tamara Wilcox-Smith standing out topless. Kellerman attributes her Oscar nomination to them.
Robert Altman originally wanted Elliott Gould to play Duke Forrest. It was only at Gould's request that he got the role of Trapper John, as he was worried that he would spend more time focusing on the accent.
During production, a caption that mentions the Korean setting was added to the beginning of the film at the request of 20th Century Fox. The Korean War is explicitly referenced in announcements on the camp public address system and during a radio announcement that plays while Hawkeye and Trapper are putting in Colonel Merrill's office, which also cites the film as taking place in 1951.
Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland were famously unhappy with Robert Altman during filming, because they felt he was spending too much time working with the extras and background talent and not with them, and they tried to get the studio to fire the director. Altman later said if he had known his stars had felt that way, he would have resigned, but he didn't learn about it until later. In an interview with Mitchell Zuckoff for his 2009 oral biography of the director, Gould said, "I think that, in hindsight, Donald and I were two elitist, arrogant actors who really weren't getting Altman's genius."
Several of the MASH character names appear on the large memorial plaque of alumni who served and died in the US Civil War in the lobby of Harvard University's Memorial Hall. Captain Benjamin Franklin Pierce even came from Maine.
The movie almost did not get released. The executives at Fox did not like all the violence. Robert Altman said in an interview:"the Fox execs (were) panicking over the blood in the operating room. "This film wasn't released - it escaped," Altman says. "Because the general second level of bosses at Fox, they thought it was terrible."
In the movie, Frank Burns (Robert Duvall ) is taken away in a straitjacket, never to be seen again. However, in the television series, he stayed on for five seasons, and in the beginning of the sixth, the character is said to have had a breakdown, but eventually gets treatment, and is promoted and sent to a VA Hospital in Indiana.
There was a cartoon parody of MASH called M-U-S-H (1975), which aired on Saturday mornings on ABC during the 1975 to 1976 television season. It featured an all dog cast modelled off this show's heroes with names like Bullseye (Hawkeye), Cold Lips (Hot Lips) and Colonel Flake (Colonel Blake). M*U*S*H stood for Mangy Unwanted Shabby Heroes.
According to the documentary "The Real MASH" that was produced in 2010; the unit the 4077th was based on was actually the 8055. Various characters in the movie and TV were real; including Margaret Houlihan; who was based on the Head Charge Nurse for the 8055th, Ruth Dickson. Hawkeye was based on author Richard Hoernberger. Other characters were amalgams of different people in the unit during the Korean War years.
There were many things that made it to the MASH movie and TV show that came from the book; and were in fact based on the real life experiences of the author, Richard Lee Hooker, (who's real name was Richard Hornberger.) There was in fact, a real life Klinger; a doctor in Korea who did dress up in drag, there was a real life Margaret; a strong willed head nurse who clashed with Hornberger, and a real life Ho-Jon; a Korean teenager who hustled and worked for the doctors so that he could move to America and get an education. The names were changed but the people were real! The other characters, Henry Blake, Duke, Trapper, were all amalgams of the people Hornberger did in fact interact with. This article describes the veracity of Mash the tv show and movie to the real situations that the author experienced: "The book was adapted to a hit movie and then a TV show that helped capture life in the unit. Like the books (Hornberger) wrote, it included a strong-willed head nurse, a Korean teenager whom the doctors sent to the United States for college on their own dime, and a doctor who dressed in drag at least once. And it helped capture the sarcasm and heart of Hornberger himself through Hawkeye Pierce, whose sarcasm and heart helped his friends and patients sustain operating conditions that were primitive and, often, nearly hopeless."
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."
In the book Hawkeye was married to Evelyn Pierce and has several children, and is faithful to his wife. In the movie Hawkeye's still married with kids, but not faithful. In the TV show he becomes a full out swinging single, a promiscuous and confirmed bachelor; very different from the super faithful family man of the book.
There were two shy, young, company clerk type Privates with glasses and clipboards, running around in the movie and getting into trouble, Private Lorenzo Boone and Private Radar O'Reilly; played by Bud Cort and Gary Burghoff, respectively. Boone was actually the bigger role of the two. His key scene is when he is helping Frank Burns, played by Robert Duvall, treat a patient during surgery. Burns makes a mistake and the patient ends up dying. Then Burns turns to the kid and yells at him "See, you killed him!" Boone starts crying; and then Trapper, played by Elliot Gould who has watched this whole thing, beats up Frank. Most people who watch this scene assume it's Radar, (because they look so similar), but it's not, it's Boone. In the movie Radar mostly interacts with Henry, using his ESP to predict what his orders will be; and then repeating them, just like he does in the show; and he also helps Trapper and Hawkeye rig a tent where Margaret and Frank are being intimate, and broadcast it all over the camp. These two characters were conflated into one on the TV show; they were both rolled up into "Radar" on the show; because Burghoff came back for the tv show; but Cort, then a rising movie star after "Harold and Maude" came out; did not.
Pauline Kael, who in 1970 was the world's most famous film critic; and who was notoriously tough on movies; loved MASH; saying it was one of the best comedies in recent times: "M*A*S*H is a marvellously unstable comedy, a tough, funny, and sophisticated burlesque of military attitudes that is at the same time a tale of chivalry. It's a sick joke, but it's also generous and romantic - an erratic episodic film, full of the pleasures of the unexpected."
In a recent article in AV CLUB; many critics discussed how MASH is Racist, homophobic and celebrates bullying: "Some friends recently had quite a spirited debate about MASH-the 1970 Altman film, not the long-running TV series (which is technically M*A*S*H). It happened to split along gender lines: Both women were appalled by what they perceived as the film's rampant misogyny and celebration of bullies, while both men argued that the characters' awful behavior, while undeniable, should be filed under War Is Hell. Not having seen MASH myself in over 20 years, I took a fresh look, and found myself agreeing with both sides. Parts of the film are difficult to watch today, even adjusting for the context and the era. At the same time, though, it is fair to ask-though nobody in the podcast episode put it quite this bluntly-whether it makes sense to prioritize outrage about women being treated like sex objects, or about homosexuality being presented as a reason for suicide (with no objection from anyone onscreen), over outrage about young men being killed for no good reason. Obscenity leads to obscenity."
In a recent article in the New Yorker: Gary Burghoff, who played Radar in both television and movie iterations of MASH; infact the only featured actor to appear in both the film and the series, told the reporter he treasures both experiences. Burghoff descried how Robert Altman hated the TV show; he has been very vocal about how much he detests the Alan Alda/Larry Gelbart and company CBS interpretation of MASH. "Altman despised it. In his director's commentary for the film, recorded for the 2000 DVD release, Altman calls the show "the antithesis of what we were trying to do," and claims not to know or like any of the people involved with it. ("Alan Albert, or whatever his name is.)" Burghoff told the reporter that Robert Altman's resentment of the tv show probably stems from the fact that the show's popularity came to almost entirely eclipse the influence of his film. (Altman had no fondness for Hornberger's novel, either, calling it "just terrible.")
Altman had a habit of chucking the original script and letting the actors just improvise; which you can see when you watch the movie; all the actors shouting at eachother in overlapping dialogue. All of this so infuriated screenwriter Lardner that he ultimately told the director, "You've ruined my film," and announced at the movie's first screening that there was not one word of his that remained in it. (Lardner went on to win an Academy Award for best screenplay.) It's ironic that a movie that was mostly improvised; and where you cannot hear and understand alot of the dialogue since it is overlapping; would win the best screenplay award! Maybe the academy just loved the way the actors talked in the movie; but that's really more due to Altman's direction to them than to Ring Lardner's dialogue.
Frank Burns is played by Robert Duvall in the movie; a man who is famous for playing crazy people. His last big role before this, which everyone remembered him by, was playing Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird. Duvall is the only actor associated with MASH, either movie or TV show, to win an Oscar. Duvall's quiet, soft spoken, Boo Radleyish Frank could not be more different from the loud arrogant bloward Larry Linville in the TV show! Incidentally, Frank was hauled off to a mental institution at the end of MASH the movie. This incident was retconned out of the script and the character's back story for the tv show. (At the end of season 5; when Margaret finally marries Donald Penobscott; Frank has an offscreen breakdown. He is sent to an institution like he is in the movie; and then quickly recovers, only to be sent stateside to become a Chief of Surgery at a hospital in Indiana in his hometown. All of this happens offscreen and is explained by Potter to Hawkeye and BJ. So in a way Frank does get sent to a mental hospital, just like he does in the movie; but this incident is pushed back like five years to explain his departure). Ironically, in the tv show, Hawkeye ends up going to a mental institution, for a while anyway, in the last episode; just like Frank does.
Both a recent documentary called "The Real Mash", and various articles reported in the media, have reported that many of the characters and situations that were presented on the MASH TV show were in fact true. Many of them came from a book by Richard Hornberger (pen name Richard Lee Hooker). Many also came from a couple that knew Hooker and were with him in Korea, and communicated with him and Mash TV producer and head writer Gene Reynolds; and through these sources the real life characters and situations made their way into the to tv scripts often week to week. A recent USA Today article states the following; "The order from the head nurse was awkward enough: Bring back as many sanitary napkins as possible for the nurses at the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital perched on the 38th parallel. But this was no ordinary PX run for the young nurse during the height of the Korean War. The getaway to Seoul was doubling as a first date, of sorts, with a handsome new doctor assigned to her unit. Now, here she is at the check-out counter with her date, surrounded by male soldiers. And instead of sanitary napkins, stacked high in front of her are boxes and boxes of condoms - the result of an embarrassing translation error. Eying the attractive nurse and her cache of condoms, the nearby GIs couldn't contain themselves. "Where are you stationed?" one quipped. "Are there more back there like you?" asked another. The young doctor quietly slipped away, acting like he didn't know the suddenly popular and very red-faced nurse. It could have been a scene from the long-running TV show M*A*S*H - but it wasn't. The young doctor and nurse - who married after the war despite the shaky first date - lived the zany existence portrayed in the popular TV series, which was based on a book written by one of their colleagues in the 8055 MASH unit. Two decades later, physician Dale Drake and his wife, Cathy, helped Hollywood shape the way America saw the Korean War through the lives of the medical staff, military personnel and patients who passed through a fictional MASH unit that was a thinly veiled caricature of the 8055. Drake served as a nurse at the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital on the 38th parallel. The Drakes, who settled in Evansville, Ind., after the war, say their days with the 8055 in Korea was an experience that brought them together and continues to shape their lives more than 60 years later. "We never thought it would turn out like it did," says Cathy Drake, 88. In fact, it may not have, but for an evening of drinking and reminiscing the couple did with the late H. Richard Hornberger during a visit to his Maine home about 10 years after the war. The Drakes were unaware at the time that Hornberger had started writing, then set aside, a fictionalized account of their wartime experiences. Hornberger - who used the pen name Richard Hooker and was the model for the Hawkeye character - later credited that late-night storytelling session with helping rekindle his fire to finish his book MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. An autographed copy of the book he gave the couple says, "The Drakes blew in the night this thing got born." The couple met in 1951, when their paths crossed at the 8055. The tent-based mobile hospital was located near the 38th parallel, which now divides North and South Korea. At the time, they were about 10 miles behind the front lines. Cathy McDonough, a native of Shelby, Mont., enlisted in the Army Nurse Corps in 1949. She was first dispatched to Korea in the fall of 1950, assigned to the 8076 MASH stationed in what is now South Korea. The nurse, who attained the rank of first lieutenant, returned to Korea in May 1951. She was briefly assigned to a MASH unit in Daejeon, then transferred to the 8055. Drake arrived at the unit a few months later. The anesthesiologist born in Ohio and raised in Glenpool, Okla., had joined the Army Reserve in the spring of 1944. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma Medical School in Oklahoma City in 1948 at age 22. He was assigned to the 8055 in 1951 and spent 16 months with the unit. By the time he arrived at the 8055, another doctor who knew Drake from medical school had already tipped nurse McDonough that the new arrival might make a good catch. "He seemed nice, but a little aloof," she recalls, Still, a friendship blossomed in an atmosphere where daily life bounced between boredom and frenzy. The two extremes provided ample opportunities to reflect on the brutality of war and enjoy good-natured mischief - and romance. McDonough shipped out of Korea in April 1952 and worked at Walter Reed Hospital while continuing a long-distance relationship with Drake. Shortly after he returned to the states, the couple married June 6, 1953. The Drakes say Hornberger - and later the producers of the movie and television series - were mostly on target with the depiction of life at their MASH unit. "The movie copied the original situation pretty closely. The operating room and the jocularity. You had to laugh about something because there was a lot of serious business, a lot of unhappiness and sorrow and death," Dale Drake says. "What characterized the fighting in Korea was that you would have a period of a week or 10 days when nothing much was happening, then there would be a push. When you had a push, there would suddenly be a mass of casualties that would just overwhelm us." Drake, who retired in 1997, still gets choked up thinking about the casualties - and the often primitive medical care they received. The operating tables, for instance, were nothing more than stretchers balanced on carpenter's sawhorses. Reading from another account of the work of MASH units, he has to stop when the author describes how the camp would be packed with the bodies of badly wounded soldiers. "I think it was a terrible war," he says. "What made it even worse was that it was referred to as a police action. It was a war - nothing but. ... I had dim views about the whole thing and still do to this day." A famous character emerges Despite his strong feelings about the war, Drake says he mellowed a little over the years. He attributes part of that to the movie and TV series. "I'm a great one for reminiscing," he explains. The Drakes shared many of their recollections with Gene Reynolds, the co-creator of the award-winning television series M*A*S*H, which ran from 1972 to 1983. Hornberger, who died in 1997, had connected Reynolds with the couple. "Gene would call us," Cathy Drake recalls, "and we would tell him different stories and things about our time there." The Drakes never told Reynolds about their first "date," but Cathy Drake did tell him about a surgeon she described as a loner who seldom socialized with the other physicians or nurses. The quiet doctor, however, made a splash when he showed up at a Halloween party in full drag, including a slinky, sleeveless dress, platinum wig and makeup featuring a beauty mark à la Marilyn Monroe. "Nobody had costumes except for him," she says. "It was unbelievable. It was just so out of character for him." The Drakes think their story, and an accompanying photograph from the party, may have helped prompt the television show's writers to create the cross-dressing Maxwell Klinger character. Klinger was not in the book or movie. During a trip to California, the couple and their children toured the M*A*S*H set as guests of Reynolds. "I really felt like we were back in Korea," Cathy Drake says. "We got to see them film and met all the cast members. You would have thought Dale and I were the celebrities the way they treated us. It was really neat."'
In one key scene in the movie, Radar catches Margaret and Frank being intimate in the supply tent. Acting under orders from the Swamp men Hawkeye, Duke and Trapper, Radar bugs the tent and hooks the microphone up to the camp PA system, where Margaret and Frank's shenanigans are broadcast all over camp. During the incident we hear Margaret telling Frank to "kiss my hot lips!" And this becomes the basis for her nickname. Although when when we're watching the scene it's clear she's not talking about her mouth! But this more explicit connotation was lost in the more censored television version of MASH; in the show when they say "Hotlips" they are clearly talking about her mouth! Also there were a couple real life prototypes for Margaret. One was the 8055th Charge Nurse Ruth Dixon. Another one was a camp nurse named "Hotlips Hammerly". So Hotlips on MASH was named after a real nurse named Hotlips!
In the movie Hotlips has no sexual contact with Hawkeye or Trapper, but she does hook up with the third Swamp man Duke. When the other boys catch the two together Trapper pushes him down in a jokey but bullying fashion to punish him for showing favor to the camp nerd. This is different from the TV show, where Margaret is not intimate with Duke, who is only in a couple episodes, but she does have romantic flings with both Hawkeye and Trapper.
Both the TV show and movie are based on a book, MASH A Story of Three Doctors, by Richard Lee Hooker. There was actually a whole series of books by the author that most people have forgotten about: MASH, Mash Goes to Maine, Mash Goes to New Orleans, MASH Goes to Paris, Mash Goes to London, Mash Goes to Morroco, Mash Goes to Las Vegas, Mash Goes to Vienna, MASH Goes to San Francisco, MASH Goes to Miami, MASH Goes to Hollywood, MASH Goes to Texas, MASH Goes to Moscow, MASH Goes to Montreal, and MASH Mania. The original book was written and published in 1968; the last one was published in 1977.
A MASH is a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital. It is a type of Field Hospital: A field hospital is a small mobile medical unit, or mini hospital, that temporarily takes care of casualties on-site before they can be safely transported to more permanent facilities. This term is used overwhelmingly with reference to military situations, but may also be used in times of disaster. The Army's version of a Field Hospital is a MASH. Formally the MASH unit was conceived by Michael E. DeBakey and other surgical consultants as the "mobile army surgical hospital." The units were first established in August 1945, and were deployed during the Korean War where they proved to be highly successful. The U.S. Army decommissioned the last MASH unit on February 16, 2006. MASHes no longer exist but Field Hospitals are still in abundance throughout the world. There are also field hospitals or MASHES on the water: they are called Hospital Ships. A hospital ship is a ship designated for primary function as a floating medical treatment facility or hospital. Most are operated by the military forces (mostly navies) of various countries, as they are intended to be used in or near war zones. A MASH for the Navy would be a a WATER MASH, or a Hospital Ship. Water Mashes, or Hospital Ships, have existed for as long as regular Field Hospitals have: In the nineteenth century redundant warships were used as moored hospitals for seamen. There are also Air Mashes; The Orbis Flying Eye Hospital is the world's only fully-equipped teaching hospital on a plane travels around the world restoring sight - which carries medical equipment and hospital services all over the world. Incidentally there is a Hospital Ship TV series: Hospital Ship is a South Korean television series starring Ha Ji-won and Kang Min-hyuk. The series is directed by Park Jae-bum and written by screenwriter Yoon Sun-joo. It aired on MBC every Wednesday and Thursday at 22:00 (KST) and started on August 30, 2017. It is ironic that both Field Hospital shows take place in Korea; both MASH and Hospital Ship take place in and are about South Korea.
Interestingly, Richard Hornberger, the original writer of "MASH: A Story of Three Doctors'; hated both the movie and TV series his book were based on; particularly the tv series which featured a very progressive, liberal, whiny , and preachy Hawkeye character; which was the complete opposite of the way Hornberger saw himself. Conversely Robert Altman; the director of the 1970 "MASH" movie; thought the original book was "pretty terrible"; he called it very sexist and racist. Altman also hated the tv show that his movie was based on as well. He said the following in a 2002 article about the tv show: "I didn't like the series because that series to me was the opposite of my main reason for making this film - and this was to talk about a foreign war, an Asian war, that was going on at the time. And to perpetuate that every Sunday night for 12 years - and no matter what platitudes they say about their little messages and everything - the basic image and message is that the brown people with the narrow eyes are the enemy. And so I think that series was quite a racist thing. I didn't approve of it, I don't like it, and I thought it was the antithesis of what we were trying to do. But most people don't even know this movie exists. If you poll the world, they'd say, 'Oh, that was that series with Alan Albert,' or whatever his name was." Tv show creators Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds has never commented on the original book or movie. The only commentary Reynolds has given on all of this is that although he is very proud of the work he has done with the tv show; it was a very unpleasant experience working with the actors and the other producers. He said the original shows are very good but in the later episodes the quality waned and the show got preachy.
When it came out MASH was a critical darling; and it even won the Oscar for best screenplay by Ring Lardner. But the New York Times did not like MASH. Roger Greenspun said the following "Although it is impudent, bold, and often very funny, it lacks the sense of order (even in the midst of disorder) that seems the special province of successful comedy."
A user from the AV CLUB message board had a conversation on the movie MASH. Most of the posts were very negative; and one of the users said the following; "You can hate misogyny and the machinery of war at the same time. I showed this movie to a group of students a couple of years ago. They were appalled by how f----- mean it is."
In terms of the MASH franchise the only actor associated with MASH (TV show, book or movie)was Robert Duvall. Although at least a dozen actors associated with MASH have been nominated for Oscars; including Sally Kellerman, Elliot Gould, Donald Sutherland and Pat Morita. Robert Altman himself won an Oscar; and so did MASH screenwriter Ring Lardner.
How Hawkeye changed from the book; to the movie to the TV show is very dramatic. In the book he is described as being a redneck from Maine in his twenties. The following New Yorker article talks about Hawkeye in the book and the dramatic change from book, to movie to tv show: " As depicted in the book, Captain Benjamin Franklin (Hawkeye) Pierce is a bumpkin from Bumpkintown, Maine. One of Hornberger's characters describes him as "an uncouth yokel." The character is introduced as being in his late twenties, a former college athlete, married with two young sons, and an avid reader of Maine Coast Fisherman magazine. While Donald Sutherland had not exactly hit the casting bull's-eye (Sutherland told me that he and Altman never discussed the Mainer accent called for in the screenplay-"heah" for "here," etc.), he was arguably within range of the character, having been brought up in Nova Scotia and naturally quiet, unassuming, and laconic. When the producers of the television series recruited Alan Alda to play Hawkeye, they not only intentionally missed Hornberger's target entirely but wound up in the woods somewhere. "We needed an attractive, funny guy," the show's original producer and co-creator, Gene Reynolds, told me, "a leading man, a hero, someone who could carry the show." Reynolds had seen Alda onstage in New York and was convinced that this was the guy. Alda's Hawkeye is flamboyant, intellectual, and manic-almost always the center of attention. New York-y, even. Where Sutherland's charisma is sneaky, Alda's is all out front. It stretched the limits of plausibility to imagine him back home in Maine, building lobster traps with his dad, but, as Alda told me, "We weren't doing the book, and we weren't doing the movie. I don't think that the somewhat depressed character portrayed in the film would have worked for very long in the show."'
Tom Skerritt and Bud Cort appeared in Harold and Maude (1971). Bud Cort played the eponymous Harold, and Tom Skerritt, credited as M. Borman, played a motorcycle officer. When considering the role of Harold, Bud Cort asked the opinion of Robert Altman, his mentor. Altman cautioned that Cort might find himself forever typecast. For this reason, Cort turned down the role of Billy Bibbit in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975). Robert Altman directed them in this movie.
In the 1970 Robert Altman movie MASH the 4077 camp dentist, Dr. Walter Waldowski; played by John Schuck; admits to the other characters, Hawkeye, Trapper, Duke, and other men in the Swamp, that he might be homosexual. The character's nickname is Painless. The scene is played for laughs, and the other men laugh at Painless; and then they conspire to make him "straight" by setting him up with a nurse. (The MASH theme song "Suicide is Painless" is actually dedicated for and about this "Painless" character; who is contemplating suicide because he thinks he might be gay). The whole sequence is shocking. The following article from New Yorker describes the sequence: "The unit's resident Lothario, Captain Walt (Painless Pole) Waldowski-played by John Schuck-reveals to Donald Sutherland's Hawkeye that he has decided to kill himself because of sexual dysfunction, before admitting that there is a larger issue at hand. "I'm a fairy," he says, dolefully. " When the character says "fairy" the other men in the swamp giggle. Again, this is homophobic by modern standards. (And we're not even mentioning the vicious rape culture scene that happens later when the boys rig the showers so that Margaret Houlihan can be exposed to the entire camp; and then they laugh at her as she scrounges around in mud naked). The scenes with Painless are definitely homophobic by modern standards; having the other characters laugh when he reveals he might be gay; him thinking the only to live if you're gay is to kill yourself; and then all of them trying to "convert" him and even being successful! If the original 1970 movie was virulently homophobic; the TV show was at least trying to be more forward thinking. In the 1974 television episode titled "George"; one of the patients, a Private George Weston, Richard Ely, who has been sent to the camp for medical attention, gets beaten up for being gay. Hawkeye ends up defending him and it leads to a thoughtful (for that era) conversation about tolerance and LGTB issues. Again, the "George" episode cannot be called progressive by today's standards. But there is a light year of progress that was made between Robert Altman's mean-spirited homophobic and rape culture 1970 movie; and the efforts made towards tolerance, equality and understanding exhibited on the tv show on episodes like George.
More rape culture from MASH: Trapper's nickname, we are told in the book by Richard Lee Hooker, came to him because he was caught having sex with a woman on a train. When the woman was confronted about the incident, she said, "He trapped me!" Hence Trapper. Calling him Trapper is essentially like calling him "Rapist!"