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

New Movies

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Movie Review

After the thunderous reception for J.J. Abrams' Episode VII: The Force Awakens two years ago,...

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Daddy's Home 2 Movie Review

Like the 2015 original, this comedy plays merrily with cliches to tell a silly story...

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

The Man Who Invented Christmas Movie Review

There's a somewhat contrived jauntiness to this blending of fact and fiction that may leave...

Ferdinand Movie Review

Ferdinand Movie Review

This animated comedy adventure is based on the beloved children's book, which was published in...

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Brigsby Bear Movie Review

Director Dave McCary makes a superb feature debut with this offbeat black comedy, which explores...

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

Battle of the Sexes Movie Review

A dramatisation of the real-life clash between tennis icons Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs,...

Shot Caller Movie Review

Shot Caller Movie Review

There isn't much subtlety to this prison thriller, but it's edgy enough to hold the...

Advertisement
The Disaster Artist Movie Review

The Disaster Artist Movie Review

A hilariously outrageous story based on real events, this film recounts the making of the...

Stronger Movie Review

Stronger Movie Review

Based on a true story about the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, this looks like one...

Only the Brave Movie Review

Only the Brave Movie Review

Based on a genuinely moving true story, this film undercuts the realism by pushing its...

Wonder Movie Review

Wonder Movie Review

This film may be based on RJ Palacio's fictional bestseller, but it approaches its story...

Happy End  Movie Review

Happy End Movie Review

Austrian auteur Michael Haneke isn't known for his light touch, but rather for hard-hitting, award-winning...

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Patti Cake$ Movie Review

Seemingly from out of nowhere, this film generates perhaps the biggest smile of any movie...

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

The Limehouse Golem Movie Review

A Victorian thriller with rather heavy echoes of Jack the Ripper, this film struggles to...

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.