For Hicksflicks.com, Oct. 3, 2014

The 1970 theatrical film "MASH" does not use the asterisks in the title on the screen — even though the posters did. On the other hand, "M*A*S*H" is indeed the title of the TV series that followed.

And if you look closely at the posters above, the one on the left is from the original 1970 release and it shows an R rating in the lower left-hand corner, while the poster on the right is from a 1973 reissue and shows a PG rating in the lower left-hand corner. "MASH" was re-rated the second time out and earned the softer rating.

If you've never seen the movie and expect it to be like the TV sitcom, you're in for a shock. The film is far more irreverent and the characters are darker, and in a couple of cases quite mean-spirited.

          

Donald Sutherland, left, and Elliott Gould in the 1970 movie 'MASH.'

And although the story is set during the Korean War, it is very much an anti-Vietnam War satire. A very dark satire.

Did I mention that it's irreverent?

Based on the book series by Richard Hooker, Capt. Hawkeye Pierce (Donald Sutherland) arrives at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital with his buddy Capt. Duke Forrest (Tom Skerritt) and they are later joined by Capt. Trapper John McIntyre (Elliott Gould). All are insubordinate womanizers but they are also excellent combat surgeons, so their superior officers generally put up with their shenanigans.

Sally Kellerman plays Hot Lips Houlihan, Robert Duvall is Major Frank Burns, Roger Bowen is Col. Blake and Father Mulcahy is played by Rene Auberjonois, and the film is directed by Robert Altman with his distinctive, stream-of-consciousness, overlapping-dialogue style. It was his first box-office hit.

The one cast holdover for the TV series is Gary Burghoff as Corp. Radar O'Reilly. Others in the cast include Jo Ann Pflug, John Schuck, Michael Murphy, Fred Williamson and Bud Cort.

         

"MASH" is filled with many memorable scenes and lines of dialogue, and in addition to establishing Altman, the film made stars of Sutherland and Gould, and gave a boost to Duvall, who would land a prominent role in "The Godfather" two years later.

The film will play on the big screen as the final entry in the latest Cinemark Classic Movies cycle, playing in several theaters on Sunday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m., and on Wednesday, Oct. 8, at 2 and 7 p.m.