Let’s recognize the only extra who committed to selling this dramatic M*A*S*H scene

A serious escape scene is no time to smile.

Read to Me

TV history remembers the M*A*S*H episode “The Sniper” for a moment when Radar bares some skin when his towel falls, because it was the first instance of male buttocks in American primetime.

But despite containing plenty of the show’s characteristic sight gags like this Radar scene, “The Sniper” was a startlingly serious episode that saw the 4077th under attack. In it, a sniper’s bullets fly by as all our favorite cast members run for cover and in the middle of this extreme tension, there was some footage used to document this chaos that made this charged scene off-putting in another way entirely.

Just after we watch Hawkeye running toward the camera with Lt. Suzanne Marquette (played by the phenomenal Terri Garr), their expressions the picture of the horror we are witnessing, the frame cuts.

We see six or seven extras running toward the camera, and if you’re not looking closely at their faces, you might have found nothing unusual about these unfamiliar faces amid the drama of hoping none of the cast members you love got hurt.

Take a closer look next time you watch this episode, though, and you’ll see that most of the extras in this scene aren’t even trying to seem scared of the situation.

Some of them are outright smiling, including three women who start the scene just beaming.

Why all the smiles?

The only thing horrifying about this group is how out of emotional sync these offbeat extras were, save for one. On the very far right, let’s recognize the one extra who gave this scene her all, clutching her hat and tugging her mouth down in a frown with the properly concerned eyebrows to match.

This is acting, and she’s the only one in the scene who held up the tension Alan Alda so masterfully conveyed in his own mad dash. Cheers to the extra on the far right!

In the next scene, Frank Burns and Margaret carry on with the drama, so it's possible you never noticed the clear smiles on the faces of these extras in the quick shot before.

Of course, we can hardly blame them for being so excited to be a small part of classic TV history, so maybe next time we see them smile, we can forgive the idiosyncrasy and see ourselves in their indulgence in enjoying their time on M*A*S*H.


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Se7en 3 months ago
John Walmsley always hated himself for not having a fabulous mole like Richard Thomas .. He said that he and Thomas would go to the club's and as soon as they walked in Thomas would start pointing at the mole on his face and women would swoon .. We now all know that his wonderful mole was milk producing that the cast of The Waltons would all crowd around to suckle the wonderful life giving milk it produced .. Sometimes it would turn into an actual fist fight over who would suckle the last drop of that brownish yellow elixir .. The Grandpa (Will Geer) always insisted on chewing the course hair that grew from its center ..Thomas was asked several times in interviews why he didn't just cut or pluck the hair ..and he always replied that he tried a few times but it "hurt my inners"The cast member that was actually addicted to that warm frothy pungent juice was Ellen Corby..the grandma .. See if you noticed her head is extremely small for her body and doctors have said that she suckle so much and so hard that she actually sucked her own head small ... In the end Walmsley sought help for his self loathing over being moleless and became a booger eating spaz
Lillyrose 6 months ago
The extra with the mustache on the left looks a little like B.J.
Pacificsun 6 months ago
Whether or not these were casual Extras is an assumption. But let’s be clear about Second Units. Directions given: "crowd scene, keep it together, run, hurry, just get out of there!" Meaning people aren’t necessarily versed on the episode itself. Scenes are shot out of sequence, dependent on daylight. If shooting was delegated to an Assistant, the Director could’ve been prepping main characters for a key scene. It’s about logistics, location, coordinating everyone, and meeting the deadline. Even if emotion was out of sync, probably no time to re-shoot anyway. But you’re right, especially if the shot is only a couple of seconds, nobody would notice. It’s about overall effect!
MaryMitch Pacificsun 5 months ago
Good point; they probably didn't even hear "gunshots".
WavSlave 6 months ago
This episode also contains my favorite overall MASH line. I won't quote it but let's just say it involves a guarantee.
harlow1313 WavSlave 6 months ago
You may be confusing this with the Men's Warehouse. "I guarantee it."
wanderer2575 WavSlave 6 months ago
The episode aired 46 years ago. I don't think you have to worry about spoilers now.
Brian WavSlave 5 months ago
We'll bite... what was it?
TomLawrence WavSlave 21 days ago
Maj. Margaret 'Hot Lips' Houlihan : “Colonel, May I remind you of the responsibility for the women in this outfit! What guarantees will we have concerning the violations of our bodies?“
Hawkeye : “What kind of Guarantee do you want?”
TomLawrence TomLawrence 21 days ago
Kinda appalling now, like Hawkeye promising to take Trapper to a rape for his next birthday. Some of those lines did not age well.
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