Friday, June 24, 2011

Movie Moments: #65

M*A*S*H  (1970)

Not many of today’s youngsters watching MASH on TV reruns will be aware that it was originally a movie, or that the them has lyrics.  The film is set in Korea but was intended as an anti-war film about Vietnam.  Director Robert Altman removed any references to Korea, wanting audiences to mistake the setting as Vietnam, but nervous studio suits made him not only restore them but also add an opening title that identifies the place as Korea.  Still a great film with many classic moments, too numerous to mention.

Doctors and nurses at a front line Mobile Army Surgical Hospital try to sane amidst the brutality and horror of war.

Painless: [lining up during football game] All right, Bub, your fuckin' head is coming right off.
[the first use of the word "fuck" in a major motion picture and in a studio movie]

The Last Supper scene:

Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals remained in US Army service until 2006 when the last one was donated to Pakistan.

When studio execs first saw the dailies, they complained to Robert Altman that the soldiers looked dirty compared to the soldiers in Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) and Patton (1970), the much bigger budget war movies being made by 20th Century Fox. Altman, a veteran of WWII, replied that soldiers in war are dirty. The next day the execs told the producers of those two films to make their soldiers look dirtier.

The 14-year-old son of Robert Altman, Mike Altman, wrote the lyrics to the theme song "Suicide is Painless". Because of its inclusion in the subsequent TV series, he continued to get residuals throughout its run and syndication. His father was paid $75,000 for directing but his son eventually made about $2,000,000 in song royalties.

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