It has one of the most recognisable theme songs in entertainment history. To this day people are still drawn to their lounge rooms or stop flicking the TV channels when they hear the opening bars to the theme song from M*A*S*H. Did you know that the song was called Suicide Is Painless? Or that it had lyrics?
M*A*S*H is one of the most iconic television series of all time but surprisingly not a lot of people know about the film, or the book, that it is based. The film is a little bit more risqué than the TV show, but the heart and commentary on war are still the same.
The film M*A*S*H was directed by Robert Altman, also known for his 2001 film Godford Park and 2006 film A Prairie Home Companion. The stars of the movie were Donald Sutherland as Hawkeye Pierce, Elliott Gould as Trapper John, Robert Duvall as Frank Burns, and Sally Kellerman as ‘Hot Lips’ O’Houlihan.
While Alan Alda would make the character of Hawkeye iconic, you can still see the incredible cad he was always meant to be with Sutherland. The film is darker in tone, and language, with not a laugh track in site but the gags work. The dialogue is punchy, full of wit, and delivered with a sense of fun from the actors.
The most enduring legacy of the film is that Director Robert Altman needed a theme song for the movie. He wasn’t particularly picky about what it was so let his 14-year-old son write it. His son didn’t get paid but got to hold onto the royalties for the song. Altman was paid $75,000 to direct the film while his son would go on to make over $2-million in royalties and counting.
The lovable Radar resembles his TV version because it is the same person. Actor Gary Burghoff played the role of Radar in the film, the TV series, as well as the failed show After MASH and the failed pilot W*A*L*T*E*R.
If you have seen the film, or it has been a while since you have, it is well worth a watch to show you what started it all and why it was one of the biggest successes of 1970.
When was the first time you saw the film? Who was a better Hawkeye — Alda or Sutherland? Do you prefer the seriousness of the film or the more playful nature of the television show?