M*A*S*H (MASH) s04e24 Episode Script

G525 - The Interview

The following is in black and white.
This is a room in Korea a room most of the men fighting the second year of the war would rather not see.
This is an operating room in a MASH a Mobile Army Surgical Hospital.
There are five of these units in South Korea.
The concept of treating wounded close to the front this particular hospital is just three miles from the fighting is being tested for the first time.
If anything can be said to be a success in war, it is this concept.
By bringing the wounded directly to the operating table by jeep, ambulance and helicopter these units have achieved an effectiveness of 97%% .
In human terms, 97 out of every 100 wounded men brought here live.
Who are the people behind that most impressive statistic? We brought our camera and our microphones here to find out.
Some of their saltier comments have been deleted.
Do you see anything good at all coming out of this war? Yeah.
That would be nice, if I could get out of this alive.
That would be great.
- You've been here some time.
- Somewhere between some time and eternity.
Is there anything from home that you brought over with you to set up for yourself? Creature comforts? - I brought I brought a book over.
- What book? The dictionary.
I figure it's got all the other books in it.
I like to read the dictionary.
What do you feel was the most difficult thing you had to adjust to over here? I think it's that everything is painted green.
The clothes are green.
The food is green except the vegetables, of course.
The only thing that's not green is the blood.
The blood is red.
That's what you get the most of here.
Number one with me is the toilet seats.
They give you slivers and splinters.
You can't really reach around and take them out yourself.
Boy! That's when you find out who your friends really are.
Ha! The almost criminal lack of respect of military respect and discipline.
Some say that's too much to expect of doctors.
I don't see any harm in doctors being ordered to behave as patriotically as possible.
Doesn't patriotism have to come from the heart? I don't have that problem.
You gotta understand.
I'm not working on sick people here.
I'm working on hurt young people with essentially healthy bodies that have been insulted by ammunition.
What's the attitude of the boys towards you, towards your work? I try to get to know them, but then there's so many.
They move through here pretty fast.
At least we hope they do.
I do hold services, but, uh, well, they I don't pack 'em in, you know.
Not Not that that's important.
They spread us religious fellows rather thin over here.
'Course they spread everything kind of thin over here.
I'm not complaining.
I don't mind being the only priest here.
It's sort of fun to have a corner on the market, but Well, uh What was the question? A lot of the boys look up to you as a father figure.
Do you get that feeling? I suppose they do, and that gets to be a pain in the [Beep.]
I don't mean that in a nasty sort of a way.
I know it's perfectly natural.
That's what I think part of my duty as a commanding officer is.
To accept that, and to give it back in the best way that I can.
What do you do when you're not working? Then I specialize in boredom.
There must be a good deal of that.
- And let's not forget fright.
- Tell me about that.
The fright or the boredom? We have a special on boredom this week.
Tell me about the boredom.
- Do you mean what do I do when I'm bored? Is that - Yeah.
What do you do? Uh, well, um I mostly do the same thing I do when I'm not bored, only I do it slower.
How many times can you watch those training films they send over here? V.
Is the Enemy and Don't Let This Happen to You.
I'd like it to happen to me to break up the boredom.
Just kidding, honey.
You got a little woman back home? I'm married, yeah.
LaVerne Esposito.
Terrific gal.
Great gal.
She went to Toledo Waite High School.
That's on the Hungarian side of town.
Incidentally, if you're ever in Toledo, Ohio, on the Hungarian side of town Tony Paco's greatest Hungarian hot dogs, with chili peppers, 35ct.
And a cold beer Stroh's Bohemian.
And El Verso cigars.
Well, I, uh - I don't know if this is interesting or anything.
- Go ahead.
Uh, I grow earthworms.
I, uh, dug a ditch like a trench out behind the O.
I filled it up with peat moss and stu Well, not exactly peat moss, 'cause I couldn't requisition any.
So, what I did was Well, l I took Well, you know when they re-dig the latrine Can you say "latrine" on television? Let's find out.
Well, anyhow, there's lots of ash and stuff, you know.
I took that stuff, and I put it in the hole.
Then I went looking for some earthworms.
I put them in there.
You know, earthworms double in 60 days.
They must really be in love.
Oh, there must be 160,000 And now what happens? Well, I figure I'd give most of them away to the farmers around here 'cause they need all the help they can get.
And, uh, earthworms are really good with dirt.
Is this too technical? - No, no.
Go ahead.
- Well, uh I figure I'll give most of them to the farmers, and the rest I'll race.
You race earthworms? - Yeah.
I got this cockroach in a jar, you know? - Yeah.
I didn't name him or nothing.
He's just number six.
One through five died.
Or maybe number six ate them.
I don't know.
They're pretty hard up too, you know? Cockroaches.
Over here.
Anyhow, I put him in this track with the worm, and then I race 'em.
Unlike most of your doctors, you're regular army.
This is my third war.
I was in the big one and the Second World War and now Korea.
I hope war is getting smaller as a trend.
I've been asking if something special is coming out of this in the way of medical or technical developments.
Oh, there are some things that get a practical trying-out here that maybe wouldn't with the same speed back home.
But when you counterbalance that with the frightful expense the frightful destruction and loss of life, I don't think it's an equal balance.
Do you see anything good coming out of this? Not a damn thing.
I mean, Korea will become a shining example of the American policy of benign military intervention.
I think it's the most stupidest thing in the world.
You call it a police action back home, right? Over here, it's a war.
"A police action" sounds like we're over here arresting people handing out parking tickets.
War is just killing.
That's all.
Do you get scared, frightened? Yeah, very frightened.
Very frightened.
- What do you lean on then? - Mostly terror.
There's always terror to fall back on.
You know what it's like? It's like a car accident.
You know, everything goes into slow motion? You suddenly see things for the way they really are.
You say to yourself, "Oh, so that's what it's like to have a bomb explode a few feet away from me.
" Do you ever get hit here? Oh, they bombed the crap out of us a number of times.
Uh, there, it's al it's The beams shake, and the dust falls into your patient.
It's not nice.
Any other times you were afraid? At night.
Sometimes at the beginning of the night, sometimes before dawn.
When you realize that you're not sleeping, and you suddenly begin to think of where you are and what could happen to you.
Then you notice that the cot is shaking.
You wonder why the cot is shaking.
It's because your heart is pounding.
Sometimes I get frightened for the patients we have to handle these young kids that come in all shot up.
It's very difficult to observe all this and not occasionally be scared by it.
How would you describe yourself? Are you a captain in the U.
Army Reserves or are you a civilian in uniform? I'm a temporarily misassigned civilian.
Can you describe what you do? Essentially, I'm on call for all medical emergencies but I've never seen a situation here that wasn't an emergency.
I did three amputations before I had my first breakfast here.
Our surgeons, uh, do what needs to be done.
Anesthesiologist one day, orthopedist the next.
Psychologist pretty much all the time.
How in the world do you keep your morale up? I stopped having morale about six months ago.
- It's not really morale you have here either.
- What is it? - Is it pure survival instinct? - Yes.
Yeah, yeah.
It's like an overcoat that I take out every once in a while and put on.
See, what I do is, I try to provoke other people into disbelief.
Then when I see that disbelief in their eyes, then I know I'm here.
Otherwise it's like looking into a mirror and not seeing anything.
Everybody's got that self-involved glaze over their eyes a little bit.
They all have their own problems, you know.
I think what it's like is, uh, like what Milton Berle does for people.
They just can't believe it.
It gives them something to look at for a while.
It's like a public service.
How do you manage to stay sane over here? There are certain tricks to staying sane little things you can do.
For instance, if you wear your underwear outside your pants for three days straight just to see who notices that's a very good way of staying sane.
- Is there anything from home - Actually, another thing you could do is you could get out in the road there, where the jeeps are coming by and everybody stick your foot out in front of the jeep.
The last one to pull his foot in is the sane one.
How did you pick the military as a career? I got into the cavalry as a kid, excited by the glamour of it.
Then I went into medicine.
I don't say it isn't, and hasn't been, especially in the olden days, a glamorous occupation particularly the cavalry, which was very romantic.
But remember those were the days of Douglas Fairbanks and Francis X.
Bushman too.
I love horses.
I'd rather spend a day with a horse, still, than most of the people I know.
- Has this whole experience changed you in any way? - Certainly not.
I may care about things more than I ever have before, because, uh there's so much more to care about here.
On the other hand, I really don't give a [Beep.]
what happens.
Just doesn't matter anymore, I think.
I mean, I've seen so many people to whom killing is a casual thing.
I don't know how we manufacture people like that, but it, uh It seems to me that we'll never run out of them.
When I first came here, I couldn't walk down a corridor full of wounded people without being sickened by it.
Now I can walk down without noticing them.
You have to use a mental anesthesia.
Otherwise you bleed for everybody who's bleeding the refugees, the orphans the wounded children, the other doctors and nurses.
If you get caught up in their misery too deeply, you get into a hole you can't climb out of.
When the doctors cut into a patient and it's cold, you know the way it is now, today steam rises from the body and the doctor will will warm himself over the open wound.
Could anyone look on that and not feel changed? Captain, what about authority? You have respect for authority over here? That's what really killed me when I first came over here.
There were so many people who thought they had a right to tell me what to do.
That really was amazing.
I never saw anything like that.
My shoes! You'd be surprised how many people are interested in shoes when you come into the army.
You don't meet many people out in the real world who are interested in shoes the way they are in the army.
It's a fascination for them.
You might even say a grand obsession.
It's pretty hard to have the kind of authority here you would have in a regular army unit, because these guys aren't soldiers.
They're doctors.
And, uh, you just can't handle them the way you would regular army men.
And I don't want to because the results wouldn't be what we're getting now.
Can you tell me about the people with whom you're working? Finest kind.
Everybody is terrific here.
Everybody pitches in.
The doctors carry litters.
The nurses check up on the doctors.
The nurses are great.
The nurses work very hard.
They get They don't get nearly enough credit.
The nurses are preposterous.
Ladies doing work that up until a very short time ago I would have thought was man's work.
They do it so well under every kind of circumstance bitter cold, horrendous heat literally under the gun.
They don't make nurses better anywhere.
Perhaps that's not the best way to phrase that.
A woman especially, is so well, is a wonderful source of comfort and tenderness and hope.
They give back life.
Can you do better? Probably in school, somewhere in the growing-up process you've read a lot of Hemingway and his reports from Madrid in the Spanish War.
He romanticized that war.
I think you might agree.
Do you agree now with romanticizing war? You know I used to love reading Hemingway 'cause he wrote so well.
But now that I'm here, I can't understand why anybody would willingly go to a war would go with enthusiasm would want to be there while it's happening.
I'd do anything to get out of here.
It's crazy.
- What about your colleagues? - I only went as far as high school, sir.
Do you have any heroes over here, anyone you look up to? Oh, you mean the doctors.
The doctors are really terrific.
Heck, the doctors are the whole ball game here.
I guess I'm my only hero, but I'm too cowardly to admit it.
Nah, I don't I don't think I have any heroes.
My great hero would be Abraham Lincoln, I think.
I think in so many ways he was the most interesting American that ever lived.
He would have been a great doctor.
Such a gentle man, had such compassion, such humor and yet there was a terrific toughness about him.
He was a real fighter right up to the very end.
He was of the common people, and he never lost that.
A man like Harry Truman is that kind of man decent and earthy, forthright, honest, not a buck-passer.
Men like Lincoln and Truman if they had an assignment, by God, they did it! They didn't assume people are inclined to do, these days sort of weasel a decision.
They looked at the problem, acted and took the responsibility for it.
What do you think of President Eisenhower? Well, he's a general.
Do you ever get leave? Of my senses.
The other kind you don't get too much.
You take it wherever you can get it, you know? Once I went to Tokyo.
I won a contest.
- You have fun? - Yeah, I had a lot of fun.
- What did you do? - I don't remember.
I guess I got a little drunk.
You said something You said there's a lot of drinking around here.
Is there a lot of drinking here? - Did I say that? - Yeah, you said that.
"A lot" is a relative term.
We do considerable drinking as opposed to sitting at home.
We do not enough drinking as opposed to being here.
What do you think will happen when the U.
Leaves? I don't know.
If I knew all the answers, I'd run for God.
Do you get to meet the South Koreans? Do you know them? Yeah, they're n they're nice people.
I worry about 'em though.
We got a girl here that was you know, pregnant.
She doesn't have any money or anything.
I don't know how these kids live.
I mean, some of'em don't.
That's the God's honest truth.
Some of'em don't even live over here.
- Do you help them? - We do the best we can but we haven't got I mean, we got just Sometimes we got just enough for ourself.
Penicillin and stuff like that.
I mean, I really wish somebody would tell these people back home this.
When you have to look these kids in the face, that's where it's really at.
I mean, that's what the ball game really is is looking these kids in the face here.
Can you tell me what you miss most? - Oh, you mean, back home-wise? - Yes.
Well, my family of course my wife, my children.
They're my strength.
I'm one of those that feels that marriage is the headstone of American society.
Pistachio ice cream and bananas.
And pancakes.
I miss And, uh, bacon frying.
The smell of bacon in the morning, waking up to that.
It's a long time since I smelled that.
I miss my wife, of course miss my son, daughter-in-law.
I have a new baby grandchild.
I haven't seen her.
I'd like to.
One of the things I miss the most is people my own age for companionship.
I'm old enough to be the father of almost everyone around here, and then some.
You just miss being able to sit around and chew the fat with somebody your own age somebody with your own background well, not background, but your own experiences.
- [Helicopter Whirring.]
- What about you, Doctor, when the war is over? I've got a lot of lost time to make up to my family.
- Where is home? - The Bay Area, San Francisco.
Specifically Mill Valley, is where I live.
That's where Peg is, and my daughter Erin.
She's lovely.
She squeezes your nose.
Well, first thing I want to do is see my mom.
Then I got this '41 Chevy that I'm fixin' up.
A neighbor swapped me it for one of our pregnant sows.
It sounds like you come from farm country.
Yes, sir! Iowa.
Ottumwa, Iowa.
Nobody famous ever come from there except once, Eleanor Roosevelt's car got stalled at our train crossing.
Some people heard the screaming, and they said, "That sounds just like Eleanor Roosevelt!" Well, there's my practice, of course.
I might just write a book about my experiences here.
Possibly go into politics.
Would you give up medicine? Some people think I could be more useful if I did.
After the war what, Father? Oh I, uh I'd like to be warm and clean and hear confessions and maybe run the C.
I'd like to take six to seven months and become unconscious.
Just sleep not do anything, not go anyplace not have anything asked of me.
Then I'd like to go to Europe and sleep there for a year.
You want to say hello to anybody back home? You're kid You mean on camera, on TV I can say hello? Hey, hey! You're kidding me.
I can really say hello on camera? Yeah, I'd like to say hello to my wife, LaVerne.
Won't be long now, honey, I'll be home.
My mom and my dad, Butch That's his nickname, Butch and my sister, Yvonne, and, uh and all the guys there at Leo's Grill and J And J's Sweet Shop.
Hey, hey, guys! [Laughs.]
I had to come over here to be a star.
Would you like to say hello to your family? Oh, well, yes.
Hello, darling.
Hi, sweetheart.
I love you.
We haven't got a TV.
The nearest one is over at Grange Hall in, uh, Mooseville.
It's about 50 miles.
'Bout two-hour drive in the Chevy or an hour by foot.
I'm sure your folks would make the trip to see you.
Hi, Mom and Uncle Ed.
- Is this too personal? - No.
It's Walter.
Um, I really miss you and I love you.
Anyone at home you'd like to say hello to, to send a message? - They'll see it.
- Well, there is but I just don't think that's dignified, so I won't do it.
Oh, I don't have to say hello.
I know how everybody feels about me.
Yes, I'd like to say hello to Harry Truman and I'd like to know why Bess hasn't written me back.
You actually wrote her? Yes, I wrote her a very heartfelt letter.
Maybe she's too touched to respond yet, huh? No, I think she doesn't like me.
That's the only conclusion I can draw.
I was very specific about what I liked about her.
I even suggested things.
She hasn't written back.
You'd think I'd have at least heard from Harry.
Could have at least called me a son of a [Beep.]
He's done it for others.
These men and women with whom you work, you want to see them after the war? I'm torn between the idea of the love I have for these people and wanting that relationship to continue and wanting to erase all the memories I have of this place.
Colonel, you've spoken of the father figure.
Do you think that after the war you'll want to maintain a friendship or a connection with these young men and women after this is over? - Absolutely.
- Do you think you will? I'm not sure about that but I hope I will, and I hope they will with me.
'Cause I'm [Clears Throat.]
Excuse me.
[Clears Throat.]
Very, very close to some of these young men and very honored to be associated with them.
- [Helicopters Approaching.]
- Three hours ago the enemy, which prefers to attack at dawn did just that about 18 miles north of here.
- The wounded have been arriving ever since.
- Heads up.
! [Chattering.]
Comin' in! Now the people of this MASH are doing the work that they do best but that they would rather not be doing at all in a place they'd rather not be.
[Helicopter Approaches.]
A war is like when it rains in New York and everybody crowds into doorways.
They all get chummy together perfect strangers.
The only difference, of course, is in a war it's also raining on the other side of the street and the people who are chummy over there are trying to kill the people here who are chums.
These guys aren't soldiers.
They're doctors.
I'm a temporarily misassigned civilian.
They give back life.
Can you do better? [Radar.]
I mean, I really wish somebody would tell these people back home this.
I just pray that somehow it will all seem to make sense.
It's crazy.

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