Elliott Gould, M*A*S*H, ...
Credit: M*A*S*H: Photofest

”The jokes are pretty bad, really,” says director Robert Altman of the yuks delivered by Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland in the 1970 film M*A*S*H, and his statement couldn’t be more true. At the time, all my buddies and I thought it was the coolest comedy we’d seen. (All that spurting blood in the operating room! All that overlapping dialogue! All that Sally Kellerman in the shower!) But watching ”M*A*S*H” now, it seems like a series of improvised antiwar rants — which Altman pretty much admits it was. And it seems so loooong: That climactic football game is anti-climactic. Altman’s commentary is tart, though. We learn his teenage son wrote the lyrics to the theme song ”Suicide Is Painless” and that ”The Mary Tyler Moore Show”’s Ted Knight did a lot of the loudspeaker announcements that frame scenes. Altman dumps on the ”M*A*S*H” TV show, with ”Alan Albert or whatever his name was,” saying it was ”quite a racist thing.”