This celebrated satire depicts the crazy antics and the sexual adventures of Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland), Trapper John McIntyre (Elliott Gould) and Duke Forrest (Tom Skerritt), all surgeons working in a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War. The black humour of the medical team is contrasted with the terrible waste of life that they are exposed to. This was director Robert Altman's first major hit, and bears his characteristic stamp of documentary-like camerawork, loose narrative and quick-fire, realistically delivered dialogue. A long-running, popular television series followed, although the only cast member to make the transition was Gary Burghoff (Radar O'Reilly).
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With the release of Robert Altman's M.A.S.H. in 1970, a new form of comedy was born, one that would help to forever change the face of cinema. Altman's audacious film reflected the American counterculture's growing distrust of religion and government in the late 1960s and early 1970s, resulting in one of the biggest box office smashes of its time. Introducing the techniques he would employ throughout his storied career overlapping dialogue, a constantly moving camera with a heavy amount of zooming, and a bold combination of frank subject matter with cynical humour Altman immediately vaulted himself to Hollywood's upper ranks. Based on the novel by Richard Hooker, M.A.S.H. follows a group of Mobile Army Surgical Hospital officers as they perform surgery and pass the time just miles from the front lines of the Korean conflict. Led by sardonic captains Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and Trapper John McIntyre (Elliott Gould), the film has the feel of an absurd three-ring circus. Other characters include the uptight nurse Hot Lips O'Houlihan (Sally Kellerman), the confused Major Frank Burns (Robert Duvall), the troubled Captain Painless Waldowski (John Shuck), and the simpleminded Captain Duke Forrest (Tom Skerritt). Altman's decision to present his film as a series of loosely connected vignettes rather than a traditionally unfolding narrative perfectly captures the freewheeling spirit so unique to early-'70s cinema.
Leading Role 1 Donald Sutherland
Director 1 Robert Altman
Leading Role 2 Elliott Gould
Leading Role 3 Tom Skerritt
Additional Roles by Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall, Jo Ann Pflug, Roger Bowen
Producer Ingo Preminger
Screenwriter Ring Lardner
Score Composer Johnny Mandel
Editor Danford B. Greene
Release Format DVD
Release Year 2002
Additional Genre General
Subtitle Languages Croatian, Czech, Danish, English, Finnish, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Swedish, Turkish
Running Time 111 minutes
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