M*A*S*H

"Extraordinary"

M*A*S*H Review


As its opening song tells us, suicide may be painless, but war doesn't look all that bad, either, not the way the storied M*A*S*H tells it.

M*A*S*H isn't just the most successful translation from film to TV show of all time, it's also a masterful movie in its own rite. Maybe Robert Altman's best work (and his first movie of any serious note), though he's barely associated with the film in the popular consciousness now.

As the original novel's subtitle explains, this is a movie about three doctors in the army. Two in specific take center stage: "Hawkeye" Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and "Trapper John" McIntyre (Elliott Gould), two incredible pranksters who take their responsibilities as surgeons with a grain of salt and a few field martinis.

M*A*S*H doesn't so much as tell a story as it follows these two clowns around Korea. They battle with a clueless authority that knows nothing about medicine, they flirt with nurses (including the infamous "Hot Lips" O'Houlihan (Sally Kellerman)), and they practice a little medicine from time to time, even if that means breaking the law and taking pictures of some (drugged) military muckity muck in a compromising position.

And that's M*A*S*H, a film which would open many doors for Altman, who found you could make a compelling movie despite a cast list of dozens. All of Altman's best works that have followed have been structured similarly, though Altman has since found ways to work more of a plot into them. Of course, he's aided incredibly by the one-two punch of Sutherland and Gould, perfect foils for each other (and, oddly, neither playing the straight man), and dryly hilarious. Doctors in the jungle? You can sense the absurdity of their situation from the first frame, and these actors cut to the heart of these strangers in a strange land: They should be playing golf, right? (And in fact, they set up a driving range to do so.)

The film isn't perfect. Its episodic nature veers into irrelevance at times (a high-test football game being the pinnacle of wartime absurdity), and more than one character makes a complete about-face without explanation (the draconian Hot Lips eagerly turns into cheerleader at the aforementioned game). But these are minor faults, concessions to keep the film moving and acceptable casualties in a battle against the idea that "a war movie" had to be a serious affair.

The DVD includes commentary from Altman and a number of featurettes offering retrospectives on the film.



M*A*S*H

Facts and Figures

In Theaters: Sunday 17th September 1972

Box Office Worldwide: $81.6M

Budget: $3.5M

Production compaines: Twentieth Century Fox

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4.5 / 5

IMDB: 8.5 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Producer: Ingo Preminger

Starring: as Captain Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce, as Captain John Francis Xavier 'Trapper John' McIntyre, as Captain Augustus Bedford 'Duke' Forrest, as Major Margaret 'Hot Lips' O'Houlihan, as Major Franklin Archimedes 'Frank' Burns, Roger Bowen as Lt. Col. Henry Barymore Adlai Blake, as Father Mulcahy, as SSgt. Wade Douglas Vollmer/PA Announcer, Jo Ann Pflug as Lt. Maria 'Dish' Schneider, Gary Burghoff as Cpl. Walter 'Radar' O'Reilly, as Capt. Oliver Harmon 'Spearchucker' Jones, as Capt. Ezekiel Bradbury 'Me Lai' Marston IV

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.