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"M*A*S*H Gives A D*A*M*N."

MASH, the 1970 movie based on the book by Richard Hooker, was the quintessential ensemble-cast comedy movie and became a template for both movies and television comedies and dramas for decades. Although all major players were veteran actors, Mash gave a serious boost to the careers of director Robert Altman, as well as actors Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerrit, and Sally Kellerman. Gary Burghoff made a career out of playing his character in the TV series of the same name.

MASH is an acronym for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, and that is where most of the action takes place in this fast-paced and hilarious movie set in the Korean War during 1951. The plot, such as it is, consists of a series of separate stunts pulled by surgeons Hawkeye Pierce and Duke Forrest. While both talented doctors, neither are cut out for the regimented life of an Army base and proceed to stir things up at every opportunity, along with another surgeon, newcomer Trapper John.

The three proceed to wreak havoc everywhere they go, from the mess tent to the surgical theater, and on to the football field where a friendly game suggested by visiting General Hammond turns into a comical rout which brings the film to its climax and some of the movie's funniest scenes.

The constant uproar created by these three is offset by regular Army traditionalists who offer the comic foil needed to fuel their antics. These include Majors Frank Burns and "Hot Lips" Houlihan, an uptight nurse, Father Mulcahy, and Colonel Blake, an oblivious but well-intentioned camp commander aided by the almost clairvoyant Radar O'Reilly.

The movie, while portraying war and the casualties thereof in gritty and realistic scenes, is a non-stop series of nearly standalone vignettes in which Duke, Trapper and Hawkeye bring their own brand of insanity to play on what would ordinarily be a grim and depressing reality.

R
| 1970 | 1 hr 56 min | 7.6/10
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