DNF’ing M*A*S*H (1970)



Directed By: Robert Altman

If you had told me that M*A*S*H would be a classic film that I wouldn’t even be able to finish I would have called you nuts. I grew up watching reruns of the show and for some reason always assumed that naturally I’d love the 1970 film it was based on.

I was so wrong.

To be fair I went back and watched a couple of early episodes of the show this weekend on Hulu and I think some of this stuff was probably going over my head.

But the film, the film about two first rate surgeons at a medical unit near to the front lines in Korea, it was still worse. And it’s pretty much all down to the sexism and the female characters for me. It doesn’t age at all in my opinion.

cringing at MASH

I mean from the moment Hawkeye (Donald Sutherland) and Duke (Tom Skerritt) show up at camp they are all over this nurse and I mean that Hawkeye throws himself down at a table near on top of her so she has to move even though there’s space. Duke keeps childishly talking over the conversation she’s having.


But she flashes a ring and Hawkeye backs off so I’m thinking okay, well…

And then a few scenes later she’s making out with him in the officer’s tent. Her (or possibly another nurse) is told in the operating room she’s lucky she’s pretty…


But Major Houlihan (Sally Kellerman) definitely comes in for the worst of it. The by the books Head Nurse immediately comes into their line of sight. Trapper John (Elliot Gould) yelling one night he wants her for sex and then when she is sleeping with Frank Burns they stick a microphone under the bed and broadcast it camp wide.

There’s another scene later in the film that I didn’t even get to where she’s showering and they expose her to everyone in camp.

I stopped watching after Hawkeye went to help a friend who was going to commit suicide… because he couldn’t get it up one night.

Sally Kellerman as Hot Lips

That being said I did look up more information on whether or not the movie got better (at least in my opinion) and from the aforementioned shower scene and reported the fact that Hawkeye gets the nurse to sleep with the suicidal dude and he’s all good after that…

Do I want to finish this?

Eh, not so much.

I do take into account when watching or reading older books and movies that it was made in a very different time period. But there’s only so much a person can do you know? I’m watching it in 2020. It wasn’t funny. And I think that goes to the very first scene with the nurse for me.

They come off as predatory and highly unlikable and the rest of the film only increases that feeling. So I gave up.

Though I must admit I will probably go back and watch later episodes of the show. As I do remember I liked the second guy (BJ) a lot and the the older guy that played Colonel Potter so hopefully that part of the show holds up!

Recommend: No.




4 thoughts on “DNF’ing M*A*S*H (1970)

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  1. I think that the movie is not great, I never particularly enjoyed it myself, but as for a critical view of the Army and of the actual sexism in that environment it’s pretty strong!

  2. Whew. A whole lot of incel-fest and misogyny. Friends doesn’t hold up well either today, even certain parts of New Girl. It’s difficult to reconcile discomfort with previous enjoyment of whatever type of media you’re consuming. I think there’s a difference when the film/book is making a point and when it’s naturally embedded into the storyline and characters. If anything, all it calls for is to produce new and better films.

    1. I haven’t rewatched Friends in ages but I’m beating Ross is high on the does not hold up category 🙂 I mean he was problematic and unlikable when it was originally on so I can’t imagine he ages well!

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