Well, I decided to watch M*A*S*H again, after some three decades.
My, how times change!
I saw this movie several times as a teen back in the 70's, and just loved it. It has been called the first great movie of the 1970's, a seminal flic in that decade of great American cinema (perhaps the greatest.) And it shows Robert Altman at his finest, with natural dialogue and multi-layered scenes. Throw in the all-star ensemble cast and you you should have a winner.
What I really liked was the hyper realism of the operating room and the medical scenes. I'm sure people thought it was pretty gory for its time, but the realism is far less ostentatiously bloody than a recent movie, like say Academy Award best picture "The Departed."
Mind you, my opinion has now changed.
First, the movie is undeniably sexist. Women are objects in the movie, and we are talking the absolutely vital nurses that, as we now know, are the real backbone of any hospital. And there is a whiff of homophobia.
Additionally, I read a NYT review that suggested that this was the first mainstream movie to openly mock organized religion. Yes, there are few very humourous moments, but mostly these scenes come off as cruel and disrespectful.
I know that this movie was really a critique of the Vietnam War dressed up as Korea (while that war was going on!) but there are just too many sour bits for me to enjoy the movie anymore.
Perhaps the most annoying thing is that the movie vacillates been hyper-realistic seriousness (which it does with panache and really well,) and plain silly comedy. You know, if I was the editor, I would have taken out a few of the sillier scenes, and a lot of the sexism, and I think you'd have the "classic" that many people feel M*A*S*H is.
But I'm not the editor, and I won't be watching it again.