MASH (stylized as M*A*S*H on the film's poster and art) is a 1970 American satirical black comedy film directed by Robert Altman and written by Ring Lardner, Jr., based on Richard Hooker's novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. It is the only feature film in the M*A*S*H franchise and became one of the biggest films of the early 1970s for 20th Century Fox.

The film depicts a unit of medical personnel stationed at a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during the Korean War; the subtext is about the Vietnam War.[4] It stars Donald Sutherland, Tom Skerritt and Elliott Gould, with Sally Kellerman, Robert Duvall, René Auberjonois, Gary Burghoff, Roger Bowen, Michael Murphy and, in his film debut, professional football player Fred Williamson. The film inspired the popular and critically acclaimed television series M*A*S*H, which ran from 1972 to 1983.


In 1951, the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital is assigned two replacements: Captains "Hawkeye" Pierce and "Duke" Forrest, who arrive in a stolen Jeep. They are insubordinate, womanizing, mischievous rule-breakers but they soon prove to be excellent combat surgeons. They immediately clash with their new tent mate Major Frank Burns, who is both a religious man and an inferior surgeon. Hawkeye and Duke pressure Lt. Colonel Henry Blake, the unit CO, to have Burns removed from "their" tent. They also ask him to apply for a specialist thoracic surgeon to be assigned to the 4077th.

The new thoracic surgeon arrives but remains mysterious about his identity and origins. Hawkeye is convinced he has seen the new man somewhere before. It is only after an impromptu football game that Hawkeye recalls a game he played in college in which he scored the only touchdown by intercepting a pass from the opposing team's quarterback; the new thoracic surgeon was that quarterback, Captain "Trapper" John McIntyre.

Major Margaret Houlihan, the newly assigned chief nurse of the camp, arrives and is greeted by Henry Blake (who mistakenly refers to her as "O'Houlihan" several times). In the post-op ward, Trapper sees Frank Burns unjustly blame Private Boone, an orderly, for a patient's death. During Houlihan's tour of the camp, Trapper confronts Burns and punches him.

While Henry is away visiting General Hammond at the 325th Evac Hospital, Trapper leads the camp in a general abandonment of regulations, and wild partying ensues. Burns and Houlihan are appalled and write a report to the General. They also give in to their repressed passions and engage in a sexual encounter. Their tryst is broadcast over the public address system; everyone hears Houlihan telling Burns to "Kiss my hot lips!", earning her the nickname "Hot Lips". Hawkeye quietly taunts Burns about the encounter, goading Burns to attack him. Burns is sedated, restrained and shipped stateside.

Father Mulcahy, the camp's chaplain, tells Hawkeye that Walt Waldowski, the unit's dentist, has consulted him about a problem. Mulcahy feels unable to divulge any details because Walt confided in him during confession. Waldowski tells Hawkeye that he suffered a "lack of performance" with a visiting nurse and now believes he has latent homosexual tendencies. He wants to commit suicide, and asks advice on a reliable method. Hawkeye, Trapper and Duke suggest that he use the "black capsule", a fictitious fast-acting poison. At a farewell banquet that apes The Last Supper, Walt takes the capsule (actually a sleeping pill) and falls asleep in a coffin. Hawkeye persuades Lt. Maria Schneider to spend the night with Walt and cure him of his "problem".

Duke announces that he is partial to blondes, prompting Hawkeye to declare that Duke is attracted to Hot Lips. Duke suggests she isn't a natural blonde; Hawkeye bets $20 that she is, but they have no way to find the truth. They develop an elaborate plan in which Hot Lips is isolated in the showers, and counterweights are used to raise the wall of the shower tent, exposing Hot Lips to the entire camp. The plan works, money is exchanged, and Hot Lips is further humiliated. The hysterical Houlihan demands that Blake do something to discipline his surgeons, and threatens to resign her commission if he doesn't have Duke and Hawkeye arrested. Blake is lying in bed with his mistress at the time, and dismisses Houlihan's complaint and calls her bluff. Houlihan leaves in tears.

Ho-Jon, a local teenager who works in the camp, is drafted into the South Korean Army. Hawkeye tries to disqualify him by giving him drugs to elevate his blood pressure and heartbeat. The doctor at the induction center in Seoul who gives Ho-Jon his physical refuses to disqualify Ho-Jon, claiming that the boy may have come into contact with drugs at the MASH. The doctor insists that he keep Ho-Jon under observation until his symptoms clear, and Hawkeye reluctantly has to let him go.

Trapper is ordered to proceed to Kokura, Japan, to operate on the GI son of a U.S. Congressman. Seeing an opportunity to play golf, he takes Hawkeye to assist. The two invade the hospital and order the patient into surgery within the hour. An old friend of Hawkeye, "Me Lay" Marston, is their anaesthetist, and they quickly finish the surgery. Due to their previous antics, they are cornered by the MPs and escorted to the hospital's commander, Col. Wallace Merrill. They escape repercussions by reminding Merrill that they just saved the life of the Congressman's son.

While relaxing at Dr. Yamachi's New Era Hospital and Whorehouse (where Me Lay moonlights as a doctor), Hawkeye and Trapper are alerted to a Japanese-American baby with a serious medical problem. Taking advantage of their status as medical heroes, they go to the military hospital to operate, but are stopped by Merrill. They incapacitate him, anesthetize him, and then take nude blackmail photos of him with one of the prostitutes.

After their return from Japan, Hawkeye and Trapper immediately perform surgery for several hours. Afterward, they head back to their tent to sleep but find that Duke has locked himself inside. They observe him sneaking Hot Lips out the back way.

On a visit to the 4077th, General Hammond suggests that the two units play a "friendly" football game, with some money thrown into a pot to make bets ($5,000 or $6,000). Hawkeye comes up with a plan to win all the money. First, they get Henry to apply for a specific neurosurgeon: Dr. Oliver Harmon Jones, a former professional football player for the San Francisco 49ers. Then, they bet half their money up front and keep the ringer (Jones) out of the first half of the game. Once the other team has racked up some easy points and become confident enough to offer good odds to bet the rest of the money, the 4077th brings in Jones for the second half. The 325th has their own ringers, however, and the 4077th fights back with illegal injuries and by drugging the 325th's running back. The game comes down to the last play, in which the quarterback (Trapper) returns the ball to the center, who then hides the ball under his jersey and runs into the end zone for the winning touchdown while everyone else chases a phantom ball.

Not long after the football game, Hawkeye and Duke get their discharge orders and begin their journey home - in the same stolen Jeep they arrived in.



  • Gary Burgoff was the only member of the movie cast who starred in the comedy series MASH
  • The black comedy theme of rebellious heroes vs idiot military authority is not a new subject:
    • Phil Silvers show "You'll never get Rich" is of a con man Staff/Sgt who tricks his idiot commanding officer while involving everyone else with his get rick quick schemes.
    • Forrest Tucker show F Troop is of a conman Sgt who tricks his idiot commanding officer while involving everyone else with his get rich quick schemes
    • Ernest Borgnie show Mchale's Navy is a of a PT Captain who tricks his idiot commanding officer while involving everyone else with his get rich quick schemes
    • Bob Crane show Hogan's Heroes is of a POW Air Force Colonel who tricks the Nazi idiot commanding officer while involing everyone else with his sabotage the Third Reich
  • Despite it anti war theme both M*A*S*H and the subsequent comedy series displays an anti-reality timeline -supposedly it is sent during the forgotten war of Korea 1950-1953 yet...
    • In one comedy episode when the surgeons bet on an idiot enemy pilot "Washing Machine Charley" with his out of tune engine buzzing the camp-this is very loosely based on actual incidents concerning the Marines at Guadacanal in 1942
    • In one comedy episode when a Lt forces the surgeons to work on his Sgt at gunpoint-this actually happened-but it was during World War II during Operation Market Gardin in September 1944.
    • Not surprisingly the comedy series is out of chronological order:
      • Episode 4/4 "The Late Captain Pierce" takes place during President Eisenhower vist of Korea December 1952 {Despite this later seasons spiosdes refer to the US President as Harry Truman!}
      • Episode 4/20 "The Novicane Munity" which takes place in October 1952.
      • Episode 5/1 "Bug Out" refers to Battle of Uijonbu which took place in June 1950
      • Episode 5/14 "My Most unfortgettable Characheters apparetly referes to June 13, 1953
      • Epsiode 6/9 "Images" Truman meets MacArthur at Wake Island October 1950
      • Episode 6/10" The Mash Olympics" -newsreal of 1952 Summer Olympics
      • Episode 6/17 "Tea and Empanthy" the Gloucstershire Regiment was in Korea April/ May 1951; when BJ treats an addicted patients whom he operated on 8 months before—BJ arrives in MAsh one week before Potter arrives in September 1952-which would make this April 1953!
      • Episode 6/22 "Potter's retirement" refers to Kentucky Derby which occuers in April/May-yet mention is made of Open heart surgury which happened September 2, 1952
      • Episode 7/5 "The Billfold Syndrome" Battle of Hill 402 occurred May 1951
      • Episode 9/10 "A War for All Seasons" review of Year 1951—with Potter as the CO-who didn't arrive until October 1952!
  • The Comedy series shows new personal/visitors arriving in dress uniforms-not in fatigue/camafaluge.
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