Our Robert Altman Month kicks off with M*A*S*H, a star-studded comedy set during the Korean War.
Centering on the medical personnel of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (or MASH), the film unfolds in episodic sequences. Balancing calamity, humor, and mayhem, the characters frequently wrestle with the existential questions of humanity and life during wartime. Two new (drafted) surgeons are assigned to the hospital unit, but their civilian antics threaten to disrupt the entire chain of command, and indeed the outcome of the war! Starring Elliot Gould and Donald Sutherland as the newly drafted surgeons, M*A*S*H is a cornucopia of ’70s character actors whose careers would be launched by this film.
Nominated for 5 Academy Awards, M*A*S*H also won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival.
“Brilliant performances by Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland almost disguise the sentimental evolution of the plot from selfish hedonism to selfless humanism.” – Andrew Sarris, The Village Voice
“One of the reasons MASH is so funny is that it’s so desperate…The surgeons work rapidly and with a gory detachment, sawing off legs and tying up arteries, and making their work possible by pretending they don’t care. And when they are at last out of the operating tent, they devote their lives to remaining sane.” – Roger Ebert, Chicago-Sun Times
“…M*A*S*H retains an extraordinary sense of actuality through the use of improvisational delivery which gives latitude to a carefully wrought script. It is fresh and spontaneous, plausible at its most logically improbable, thanks to Altman’s superior direction, Lardner’s script, the fine selection of actors and to an omnipresent camera under director of photography Harold E. Stine and operator Bill Mendenhall.” – John Mahoney, The Hollywood Reporter