Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

M*A*S*H (1970)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

M*A*S*H (1970)

In director Robert Altman's subversive and irreverent anti-war comedy set in Korea in 1951, with the dark humor of bloody wartime surgeries and other pranks and shenanigans in the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH):

  • "Suicide is Painless" - the anti-war film's theme song playing on the soundtrack during the opening credits sequence, including scenes of blood-spurting surgery with casual dialogue carried on by the iconoclastic doctors (Captain Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) and Captain "Trapper" John McIntyre (Elliott Gould)), and their golf-playing on the helicopter landing pad
  • the scene of Hawkeye and Trapper saving the life of a Korean infant in Tokyo
  • the celebrated scenes of the pranks played by the members of a free-wheeling camp, including listening in to uptight chief nurse Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan's (Sally Kellerman) love-making tryst with hypocritical tee-totaler Maj. Frank Burns (Robert Duvall), while a microphone was hidden under their cot picking up their voices: (Frank asserted: "God meant us to find each other," she enthusiastically opened her blouse: "His will be done," and then invited him: "Oh, Frank, my lips are hot. Kiss my hot lips"), and wisecracking surgeon Trapper John McIntyre's decision to broadcast everything on loudspeakers over the camp's PA system: ("We have got to share this with the rest of the camp")
Shower Prank
  • the practical joke of pulling up pulling away the front tent wall flaps of her shower stall and exposing her to an audience of jeering spectators while 'Hot Lips' was taking a shower with everyone lined up as spectators - to determine if she was a natural blonde or not (a $20 bet), and her hysterical complaint to commanding officer Lt. Col. Henry Blake (Roger Bowen) (who was in bed with one of the nurses), including 'Hot Lips' threat to resign: ("This isn't a hospital! lt's an insane asylum! And it's your fault because you don't do anything to discourage them!...Put them under arrest! See what a court-martial thinks of their drunken hooliganism! First, they called me Hot Lips, and you let them get away with it! And then you let them get away with everything! And if you don't turn them over to the MP this minute, l-l'm gonna resign my commission!")
  • the scene of surgeon Hawkeye asking questions of Major Burns ("Does that big ass of hers move around a lot, Frank, or does it sort of lie there flaccid? What would you say about that?...Would you say that she was a moaner, Frank?...Seriously, Frank. I mean, does she go ooohhh or does she just sort of lie there quiet and not do anything at all?...) - causing him to go "nuts"; Burns was placed in a strait-jacket, and forcibly removed from the unit by a military police Jeep -- (a recording of a Japanese lady singing a 'Sayonara' song was broadcast throughout the camp: "The time has come for us to say Sayonara, My heart will always be yours for eternity l knew sometime we'd have to say Sayonara...l'll remember our romance until the day that l die, l'll see your face ln the moon and stars in the sky")
  • the company dentist Walter "Painless Pole" Waldowski's (John Schuck) mock 'Last Supper' scene and phony funeral during his assisted suicide (with a full guitar-accompanied rendition of the film's theme song: "Through early morning fog l see visions of the things to be, the pains that are withheld for me, l realize and l can see. That suicide is painless, it brings on many changes, and l can take or leave it if l please. The game of life is hard to play, l'm going to lose it anyway. The losing card l'll someday lay, so this is all l have to say, that suicide is painless..."), as a cure for his temporary erectile dysfunction, by taking a black "suicide" capsule for "certain death": ("Now then, you've all come here to say your final farewell to ol' Walt here... Dear ol' Walt. You know, l got an idea that maybe it's not such a final farewell after all. l think maybe ol' Walt's goin' on into the unknown to do a little recon work for us all. Huh?")
  • the climactic slapstick inter-M*A*S*H football game against a rival unit, in which "Hot Lips" cheered with pom-poms and gasped: "Oh my God, they've shot him" when the end-of-quarter gun went off, and the unique closing credits of the cast, read by the loudspeaker announcer - and ending with "Goddamn army" - and "That is all"

Bloody M*A*S*H Surgeries

Major Houlihan:
"Kiss my hot lips"

Hawkeye's Questioning of Major Burns

Last Supper Scene: "Suicide is Painless"

Football Game: "Oh my God, they've shot him!"


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