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Combat, Comedy - Black, Uncategorized

M.A.S.H. (1970)

Duration1h 56m 
RatingsUK: X (original cut), USA: R, 
Source of storyA novel of the same name by Richard Hooker (a sudonym for a number of ex Korean War Doctors)
DirectorRobert Altman
Writers/ScriptRing Lardner Jr.
StarringDonald Sutherland, Elliot Gould, Tom Skerritt, Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall, Jo Ann Pflug, Gary Burghoff
RatingsIMDb: 7.4 by 66,461 people. Rotten Tomatoes: 87% by 52 critics

Elevator Pitch: A trio of drafted surgeons are working behind the front during the Korea war trying to put damaged soldiers together. They are very competent when working but completely off their heads when relaxing, which frustrates the regular military at the field hospital. The only other sign of the actual conflict is the occasional sound of a jet passing over. They taunt their chief, Major Frank Burns and humiliate the female major who is in charge of the nurses, and finally are released, stealing the very jeep that they stole when they arrived.

Content: There is at least one sexual encounter, heard rather than seen, and maybe a bit of female nudity. But lots of drinking, the surgeons mostly sipping martinis from martini glasses, a sort of counterpoint the grimness of their situation. They get Major Burns taken away in a strait jacket, and expose Major Margaret O’Houlihan while she is showering, prevent the dentist from committing suicide by pairing him with the best looking nurse on the base, and by subterfuge, win a football game against another organisation. And they are often seen doing their work, up to their elbows in blood.

A View: This is another film I saw on the big screen, and I loved it, and I liked the TV show as well. The director apparently had the guys keep talking over the top of each other, which may be true to life, but is irritating in drama, and I know nothing about football, so the game, entertaining for the likes of Roger Ebert, seems to go on for ever. It has a place in American filmography, selected for preservation by the Library of Congress, and was timely, since the Vietnam war was going on in 1970. But now I find that I did not like it so much so maybe a watch for nothing just for interest.

Additional Info: The director’s 14 year old son wrote the lyrics to “Suicide is Painless” and has garnered at least $2 million for his work. 

About Victor R Gibson

Author of this site three technical books and two novels


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