[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/MASH_7171.jpg]]

->''"This isn't a hospital, it's an insane asylum!"''
-->-- '''Maj. "Hot Lips" Houlihan'''

A 1970 comedy film based on [[{{Literature/Mash}} Richard Hooker's novel]], ''M*A*S*H'' was the first major hit for its director, Creator/RobertAltman, and the inspiration for the long-running [[{{Series/Mash}} television series]] a few years later.

In the midst of the UsefulNotes/KoreanWar, the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital is tasked with fixing up the wounded. Two draftee surgeons, "Hawkeye" Pierce (Creator/DonaldSutherland) and "Duke" Forrest (Tom Skerritt), arrive on the scene. Defying all conventions, they join with fellow surgeon "Trapper John" [=McIntyre=] (Elliott Gould) to "fix up" the mood in the hospital with their brand of black humor. The plot of the film is made up of various episodes dealing with their escapades in the Hospital.

This is also one of a few different Creator/TwentiethCenturyFox films alleged to have been the first pre-recorded videocassette to roll off the assembly line at Creator/MagneticVideo in the fall of 1977.

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!!This film provides examples of:

* AdaptationDistillation: The film took the novel's main themes, stripped out most of the [[ValuesDissonance uglier parts]], and came up with this.
* TheAllegedCar: "Goddamn Army Jeep!"
* AlliterativeName: Painless Pole's real name is Walter Waldowski.
* AngryBlackMan: The motor pool sergeant in the opening scene.
* AsideGlance: Lt. Dish seems to have some unsettled feelings about her use of sexual healing to bring Painless around--until she looks right at the camera and smiles as the helicopter lifts off.
* AttendingYourOwnFuneral: The unit dentist, "Painless Pole", wanted to commit suicide, so they set up a mock funeral for him so he could take cyanide and die in a casket. The cyanide pills were fake, and the only dying he did was [[GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex in the Shakespearean sense]].
* BadassMustache: Worn by Trapper John.
* BaldOfAwesome: General Hammond sports this look.
* BerserkButton: "Would you say that she was a moaner, Frank?"
* BigGame: The football game between the 4077th and the 325th Evac hospital, which dominates the last third of the film.
* BiggerIsBetterInBed: "Painless Pole" is the "best-equipped" dentist in the army. After Lt. Dish spends the night with him, she is still in a daze the next morning.
* {{Blackmail}}: When Col. Merrill breaks in on Hawkeye, Trapper, and Me Lay performing unauthorized surgery on an American-Japanese infant, they anesthetize him and take compromising photos of him in bed with a prostitute to keep him from talking.
* BookEnds:
** Hawkeye and Duke steal a jeep at the beginning of the film to drive from the depot to the 4077th. At the end of the film, they re-steal the same jeep to go back.
** Hawkeye does his whistle in the opening scene, while Radar does it in the end scene.
* BreakTheHaughty: Hawkeye, Trapper and Duke do this to Hot Lips. It's actually rather uncomfortable viewing, as they choose to sexually humiliate her by broadcasting her sex with Frank to the whole unit, and later by pulling up the shower tent while she's in it and half the camp has ComeToGawk. But by the end Hot Lips has become one of the gang, attending one of their poker games.
* BreakingTheFourthWall: "Attention. Tonight's movie has been ''M*A*S*H''..."
* CatchPhrase:
** As in the book, Hawkeye's is "finest kind". Save for one or two occasions, this really didn't carry over to the TV show.
** That little whistle that Hawkeye keeps doing. (Which showed up again in ''WesternAnimation/FantasticMrFox''.)
* ChekhovsSkill: We learn early on that Hawkeye and Trapper played football in college, which comes in very handy later.
* CompositeCharacter: Frank Burns from the movie is a cross between the Frank Burns from the novel (in which he's a Captain instead of a Major) and another character from the novel named Major Jonathan Hobson, a religious zealot who lived in the Swamp with Hawkeye and Duke before they got him thrown out for praying too much.
* CoolShades: Hawkeye wears tinted glasses (although they do appear to also be prescription lenses) along with a NiceHat. Trapper is shown wearing actual sunglasses in a couple scenes.
* CrazyPrepared: Trapper has just arrived in the camp and is offered a martini, but balks at drinking it without an olive. After he's told that olives are difficult to procure in a war zone, he pulls out a huge jar of them that he just happened to have in his coat pocket, while Duke and Hawkeye stare in amazement.
* CreditsGag: The film ends with the camp P.A. announcer BreakingTheFourthWall by telling us that "tonight's movie has been ''M*A*S*H''", and reading off the names of the cast.
* DefeatByModesty: Hawkeye and Trapper's way of getting Hot Lips to stop being such a pain.
* DistractedByTheSexy: During the party to celebrate Trapper's appointment as chief surgeon, Radar tries to sing a solo verse of "Hail to the Chief". However, as he is being flashed by one of the nurses, he is unable to get through more than a few words at a time before dissolving into giggling fits.
* DontCallMeSir: Hawkeye corrects anyone who calls him Captain Pierce.
* DuelingMovies: Released the same year as that other anti-war satire movie, ''Film/CatchTwentyTwo''.
* DumbBlonde: Hot Lips becomes this later in the movie somehow after sleeping with Duke.
* EmbarrassingNickname: As in the real military, many of the staff members at the 4077th have unfortunate nicknames.
** Major "Hot Lips" O'Houlihan gets her nickname after her intimate session with Frank Burns is broadcast on the radio all over camp, so that everyone hears her exclaiming "My lips are hot... kiss my hot lips!"
** Then there's Trapper John, who acquired that nickname after being caught "finding fulfillment" with a coed [[MakingLoveInAllTheWrongPlaces in the ladies' restroom of a Boston & Maine railroad car]], and the young woman in question accusing him of having "trapped" her.
** "Spearchucker" Jones claims he got his nickname because he used to be a javelin thrower.
** Camp chaplain Father Mulcahy rejoices in the bizarre nickname of "Dago Red", as he is a redheaded Roman Catholic priest (despite the first word being a pejorative term for Italians, Mulcahy himself is of Irish descent).
** Captain Black, the "gas passer" in surgery, is not a handsome fellow, and so has been nicknamed "Ugly John" by his comrades.
** When Hawkeye and Trapper go to Japan to perform surgery on a Congressman's son, they are assisted by Hawkeye's old friend "Me Lay" Marston, so named because his preferred pickup line was "Me lay, you lay." Hawkeye tells Trapper that this tactic only worked on about one girl in fifty.
** "Painless Pole" could be taken to refer to Capt. Waldowski's status as a dentist and his ethnicity. Or it could be taken to refer to [[DoubleEntendre something else entirely]].
--->'''Ho-Jon:''' Here he comes! The Jawbreaker!
** Averted/subverted in that none of these characters (apart from Hot Lips) really mind their nicknames; if anything, they ''embrace'' them.
* EnsembleCast: Although Hawkeye and Trapper get the most screentime, they are supporting players in a number of the film's vignettes, and there are over a dozen characters who receive enough time and key scenes in the spotlight to be considered major characters.
* EveryoneWentToSchoolTogether: Hawkeye knows Trapper John looks familiar then finally recognizes him as a quarterback he played against in his college football days. Later they happen to bump into Hawkeye's boyhood chum "Me Lay" Marston at the Army hospital in Japan. The original book goes even further, when it was revealed that [[spoiler:Jones' family had been sharecroppers on property that Duke's family owned when they were young children; it was a gift from Duke's father that helped them moved out of Georgia and start a family business, which in turn was what made it possible for Jones to get into college at all]].
* {{Expy}}: Apart from a few mentions of them being in Korea, the sets, costumes and props are clearly meant to evoke UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar which was ongoing at the time. This was intentional.[[note]] The title "And then there was... KOREA" followed by quotes from Generals Douglas [=MacArthur=] and Dwight Eisenhower over the scene of Hawkeye walking to the jeep at the beginning of the film were added at the insistence of 20th Century Fox.[[/note]]
* FakeAssistedSuicide: "Painless Pole" becomes suicidal after discovering he is impotent. His comrades arrange an elaborate [[AttendingYourOwnFuneral living funeral]] for him, capped off by a putative suicide pill -- but instead of dying he wakes up in bed beside a willing nurse, who [[IntimatePsychotherapy cures his affliction]].
%%* TheFilmOfTheBook
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: One of the cheers Hot Lips and the other cheerleaders do is "69 is divine". There is a player on their team with that number, but still...
* HalfwayPlotSwitch: Suddenly becomes a football movie for some reason in the last half-hour. One might ask where they got a full football field, plus actual uniforms in Korea; the answer is, one of the Generals had a major thing for running inter-unit football games, and had done it the year before as well.
* HawaiianShirtedTourist: Trapper John wears a Hawaiian shirt in several scenes.
* HiMom: While taking Ho-Jon to his military physical, Hawkeye is filmed by a newsreel camerawoman, who invites him to say hello to his mother back home. He tells her his mother's deceased, then asks to say hello to his dad instead. (According to Donald Sutherland, when his parents saw this film for the first time and they got to this scene, his father stood right up in the theater and shouted, "Hi, Donny!" back at the screen.)
* HolierThanThou: Frank Burns is this as well as a {{hypocrite}}.
* IfYouDieICallYourStuff: When Painless Pole announces his intention to commit suicide, Bandini asks if he can have his record player.
* ImagineSpot: Toward the end when Hawkeye comes into the O.R. to tell him they've got their orders to go home, Duke has a quick flash of himself emerging from a plane back in the States and being greeted by his wife and kids.[[note]] The book and the original version of the script end with both Duke and Hawkeye being met by their wives and children in their respective home states.[[/note]]
* InitialismTitle: Short for "Mobile Army Surgical Hospital".
* IntimatePsychotherapy: Hawkeye convinces Dish to "cure" Painless Pole of his suicidal inclination by spending the night with him, thereby dispelling his concerns over both his heterosexuality and his ability to perform in bed.
* InvulnerableKnuckles: Averted. When Trapper punches Frank Burns in the face for reducing Boone to tears, he appears to be in as much if not more pain than Burns.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Hawkeye and Trapper can be real assholes sometimes, especially when they pull that stunt with Hot Lips in the shower. But they also plainly care about their work and their patients, as shown when they defy orders to tend to a half-American, half-Japanese infant.
* KickTheDog: Frank Burns brings the young Private Boone to tears by telling him that his bringing the wrong needle caused a patient's death, even though the patient died before Boone could have brought it.
* LastSupperSteal: Painless's "last supper" looks very much like [[Art/TheLastSupper [=DaVinci=]'s original]], with Painless in Jesus' place at the table and Hawkeye, Trapper, Duke, Murrhardt, Bandini, Ugly John, Radar, Judson, Seidman, Boone, Vollmer, and Ho-jon as the disciples. They are even making similar gestures to Jesus and the disciples in [=DaVinci's=] mural.
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: Including about a dozen major ones.
* TheLoinsSleepTonight: What convinces Painless Pole that he's a "latent homosexual".
* MeaningfulBackgroundEvent: While the surgeons are playing poker toward the end of the film, we see a jeep rolling past the tent bearing a corpse covered in a white sheet. This was originally part of a (deleted) subplot involving Ho-Jon getting wounded in action and then dying in surgery.
* MistakenForServant: Due to Hawkeye using his rank insignia to pin a busted zipper on his bags in the opening scene, Duke assumes that he's the driver to get him to the 4077th. Hawkeye doesn't bother to correct him until they have arrived and are eating and Col. Blake asks about the "stolen jeep". Later, as Radar is moving Hawkeye and Duke into the Swamp, Vollmer stops to question his "billeting these enlisted men in the officers' area", then gives an embarrassed salute when corrected.
* NakedFreakOut: Hot Lips has one of these, as part of the process of her [[BreakTheHaughty haughty being broken]]. As far as everyone else involved in the incident is concerned, it's just NakedPeopleAreFunny combined with PassThePopcorn.
* NarrativeProfanityFilter: In-universe, when Blake spots Hawkeye and Frank talking in the mess tent (after Frank's lovemaking with Hot Lips has been broadcast to the whole camp) and asks Radar to tell him what they're saying. This ends up helping Hawkeye, as when Burns snaps, Radar's "translation" makes it look like he attacked Hawkeye for no reason.
-->'''Hawkeye:''' Does that big ass of hers move around a lot, Frank, or does it sort of lie there flaccid? What would you say about that?
-->'''Radar:''' Um... Hawkeye's questioning the Major on a point of anatomy.
* NeverMyFault: As Duke says of Frank Burns, "Every time a patient croaks on him he says it's God's will or somebody else's fault."
* NoodleIncident: More of a Noodle Insult. One of the opposing players in the football game calls the African-American Corporal Judson a "coon", trying to invite an attack to get him thrown out of the game. Spearchucker tells him the name of the guy's sister and tells him "Use it!". Judson walks up to the line, and we don't hear anything but the normal background noise of the game, but the opponent suddenly lunges at Judson and chases him all over the field.
* OfficeGolf: Hawkeye and Trapper play an impromptu game of this in Col. Merrill's office.
* OOCIsSeriousBusiness: To indicate to Hawkeye how seriously depressed Painless Pole is, Father Mulcahy mentions that Painless had told him that poker was "only a game".
* PlayingSick: Hawkeye and co. try to get Ho-Jon medically disqualified from serving in the Korean military by giving him drugs that accelerate his heart rate and cause a spike in his blood pressure. Unfortunately, the doctors examining him notice that he has been working at an American hospital and tell Hawkeye that they think Ho-Jon took the wrong medication by accident, so they're keeping him under observation for a few days before examining him again. The Korean doctor isn't fooled for a second and subtly accuses Hawkeye of doping up Ho-Jon while giving Hawkeye credit for a "nice try".
* PrecisionFStrike:
** During the football game, Painless Pole tells an opposing player, "All right, bud, your fuckin' head is comin' right off!" The line (an ad-lib by actor John Schuck) was the first use of the F-word in a major American studio film.
** Staff Sergeant Gorman, Hawkeye and Trapper's driver in Japan, repeatedly grumbles "Goddamn Army!"
* PresentDayPast: Korea ca. 1950 looks and feels a helluva lot like [[UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar Vietnam]] ca. 1970. Once again, [[WordOfGod this was entirely intentional on Altman's part]].
* RandomEventsPlot: The film, rather than following a coherent narrative, is more of a series of episodes depicting a year in the life of the 4077th. For the most part, once a major subplot -- Painless Pole's "suicide", Hawkeye and Trapper's Japan trip, the football game -- is wrapped up, its effect on the rest of the "story" is minimal. If anything, the novel is even ''more'' random and unstructured, and it's a testament to Ring Lardner, Jr. that he managed to [[AdaptationDistillation distill it]] into something that at least had some slight organization.
* RedOniBlueOni: In the football game the serious ringer-filled 325th Evac team wears blue jerseys and the more boisterous 4077th wears red.
* RhymingWithItself: The verses of "Suicide is Painless" follow an AAAA rhyme scheme, but the first and last verses both have the same word at the end of lines 1 and 4 ("see" and "me" respectively).
* RunningGag:
** The camp's bumbling P.A. announcer, who can never get through an announcement without having to back up and repeat whole phrases after tripping over the words. At one point, he announces that Bandini is performing a surgical procedure that the other doctors may want to observe, and ends up having to spell the word "popliteal"[[note]] meaning situated in the hollow at the back of the knee[[/note]] when he cannot pronounce it.
** When it comes to taking orders, Radar is always one step ahead of Henry while Vollmer is about two steps behind; several times during the film, Radar anticipates Henry's orders before he even starts saying them, then Vollmer shows up to take those same orders just as Radar goes off to carry them out.
* ScrewTheWarWerePartying: Pretty much the attitude of the entire 4077th staff (save for Frank Burns and Hot Lips) when they're not actually in surgery.
* ShoeShineMister: Snippets of the song "Tokyo Shoe Shine Boy" are played twice, once shortly after Hawkeye and Duke arrive at the 4077th and once just before Radar tells Hawkeye he and Duke have received their discharge papers. The song (an actual tune from 1951, which was also included on the soundtrack album to the movie) is sung in Japanese, except for the words "Tokyo Shoe Shine Boy" in English.
* SoundtrackDissonance: It opens with an angsty folk song playing over scenes of wounded soldiers arriving by helicopters, and the other songs in the film also provide an ironic counterpoint to what's happening on screen, as well as the goofy loudspeaker announcements.
** Judson's rendition of "Suicide is Painless", sung during the mock funeral along with guitar accompaniment is much more in the style of [[TheSixties mid to late 60s]] folk music that sprung out of the Civil Rights/Vietnam Era (think Joan Baez) as opposed to anything during the early [[TheFifties 1950s]] which was still ruled by doo-wop, rockabilly, and early rock and roll.
* SourceMusic: Several tunes, either instrumental or sung in Japanese, are played over the P.A. throughout the film.
* SouthernFriedPrivate: Duke is kind of this, though he's actually a captain.
* SparedByTheAdaptation: Ho-jon, who is killed off in the novel. As noted above Ho-jon was originally supposed to be the soldier who receives Col. Blake's blood, as well as the corpse being hauled away at the end. Instead the Korean soldier was changed to a North Korean soldier (although certain shots show that it plainly ''is'' the same actor, Kim Atwood) and a POW and the corpse is a random background event.
* SpitefulSpit: One of the 325th Evac's football players spits a stream of water into Radar's ear in the locker room.
* SuicideIsPainless: The theme song is the TropeNamer. ItMakesSenseInContext.
* ThemeTuneCameo: During the "funeral" for Painless Pole, Judson sings "Suicide is Painless", accompanied by Bandini on guitar, as the "mourners" file past his coffin to pay their last respects.
* UnsympatheticComedyProtagonist: Despite being the film's {{Designated Hero}}es, Hawkeye, Trapper and company are this through and through. If you root for them at all it's only because their antagonists are even bigger {{Jerkass}}es than they are.
* VideoCredits: Clips of the actors as the PA rattles off their names.
* WackyFratboyHijinx: Or the military equivalent thereof.
* YouWouldntHitAGuyWithGlasses: Invoked by Hawkeye after he baits Frank Burns into attacking him in the mess tent.
* YourCheatingHeart: Pretty much every married character in the film has something going on the side. (Including Hawkeye, who in contrast to the series has a wife and kids.) MakesSenseInContext as much of the time, when couples throughout history were separated by obligatory military service, it was very often accepted that guys would fool around as a biological thing, and no questions were asked. Women in ancient Sparta were extended the same courtesy, making this OlderThanFeudalism.
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