The misadventures of the staff of a Korean War army field hospital
as they use humor as a way to avoid facing the horrors of war.
Directed by Robert Altman
Written by Ring Lardner Jr.
Starring Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, Tom Skerritt,
Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall, Roger Bowen, Rene Auberjonois, David Arkin, Fred Williamson, Gary Burghoff, Jo Ann Pflug
Based on the novel by Richard Hooker
Oscar Wins - Best Adapted Screenplay
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress
(Sally Kellerman), Best Director, Best Film Editing
MASH was such a hit that it spawned a highly successful TV show and won an Oscar for Best Screenplay. It's beyond me how this happened, as the film is absolutely unbearable. The characters are dull and one-dimensional, the plot is nonexistent, and the dialogue is mostly improvised, which means nothing has any point to it. Most of the time, the characters are talking over one another or repeating each other. I found myself nodding off several times, and it took every ounce of energy I had to finish this thing.
The film takes place during the Korean War, at an army hospital near the frontlines. We follow a host of forgettable characters, but mostly Captain Hawkeye Pierce (Sutherland, who I can't stand). He and the other doctors, nurses, and soldiers like pulling pranks on the tight-asses who want to run things a certain way. It's no wonder this became a TV show because it's written like the pilot to a sitcom I'd never want to watch. The film never goes anywhere. It just meanders from scene to scene with no connecting tissue and no driving force. It's completely pointless.
MASH has a reputation as a "love it or leave it" movie. As in, there's no middle ground. You either love it or you hate it. I would say I hate it. It's just an awful, unfunny, snoozer that doesn't deserve the praise and accolades it's received over the years.