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….