Noodle armed or what?

M*A*S*H is a rare example of a movie that has been eclipsed by its television adaptation. The 1983 finale of the long-running sitcom about a medical unit near the front lines of the Korean war was the highest-rated single television episode in history, with 125m viewers tuning in. It’s understandable that Robert Altman’s 1970 film, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this month, lives in its shadow. The subversive anti-war comedy avoided sentimentality and teachable moments in favor of cruel pranks and a more hardened cynicism. Coming at the start of cinema’s most famous decade, it is a seminal film of New Hollywood, and it bears all the hallmarks of its era: a strong anti-establishment sentiment, the foregrounding of morally ambiguous protagonists, and, unfortunately, a deep and unexamined misogyny.


and while one could argue that this misogyny is in some ways the subject of the movie – that the men are reverting to their primal selves amid the throes of war – the film itself tips its hand in the closing credits,

Y’know, that could be it. War and men….

12 thoughts on “Noodle armed or what?”

  1. The film was a whole lot better than the TV series. OK, the first few series were funny and not overly woke but gradually the more anarchic personalities departed the scene to be replaced by really bland characters so that the genius who is Alan Alda could take central place. Every episode began to centre around him preaching his tiresome and ever-so politically correct messages about the obscenity of war and the need for peace, biased justice, hatred of Republicans, and any way as long as it was not American. All the series put together must run longer than the actual Korean War

  2. “a deep and unexamined misogyny.”
    Probably because the film was accurately portraying the culture of the period in which it was set. IMHO the film is vastly superior to the milk-and-water TV series.

  3. “cinema’s most famous decade”: I didn’t notice at the time. But then I don’t go to the flicks much. It was suitable for small boys who liked Cowboys and Injuns on Saturday mornings, and earnest teenagers keen to see Continental Films, but otherwise largely rubbish.

  4. dearieme,

    Complete rubbish, of course. The 1940s are cinema’s most famous decade.

    But Guardian types love the whole New Hollywood thing, which followed from the Nouvelle Vague thing. Hipster films, counterculture and all that. And some of these films matter in terms of influence, no doubt about it. But your granny has never seen Mean Streets.

  5. BoM4–Nowadays your Granny has to live on them.

    Also it seems that the Gladrag regards the horrors of the Korean War–caused by the scum of their beloved socialism–as less important than the wickedness of trying to get into nurse’s knickers or taking the piss out of a (tits) stuffed shirt like Hotlips Houlihan.

    The usual leftist priorities then.

  6. To be fair, I’d also hate war if I was Noah Gittell. Looks like he’d last about 5 minutes before being forced into working as a comfort woman by the Japs or whoever.

  7. The immutable law of long running series:as time goes on the show will become more soapy and/or preachy.

    The lead actors tend to become ever-more powerful and their own preferences will start to dominate, They will either want to have more relationshippy stuff rather than plotty stuff so that they can show off how sensitive and deep an actor they are and/or they will want to save the world.

    Either way destroys whatever you liked about the show at the beginning.

  8. One of the greatest disappointments in Gamecock’s life was Sally Kellerman not moving over to the TV show.

  9. “cinema’s most famous decade”

    As with musical tastes, everyone’s favourite era for culture was when they were 17 (give or take a few years).

  10. Bloke in Costa Rica

    Trapper John was so called because he was a rapist. The book was no-holds-barred. Calling a character Spearchucker these days will get you lapidated.

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