The Trial of Henry Blake (2×08)

Season 2, Episode 08

Episode #32

Broadcast:  11/03/1973

Written by:  McLean Stevenson

Directed by:  Don Weis



Henry and Radar depart for Regimental HQ to attend a hearing that will determine Henry’s fitness to command.  Formal charges were brought forth by Frank and Margaret; General Mitchell and Major Murphy preside over the hearing to see if a court-martial is necessary.  The hearing starts with the lesser charges filed against Henry.

Charge #1:  Allowing gurney races and gambling on such races:  Henry defends himself stating this was done after a long O.R. shift and to allow the camp to relax.

Charge #2:  an enlisted man sold wing tip shoes from Style-Right Shoe Company of Storm Lake, IA:  Radar explains how he got the idea to sell shoes from a matchbook cover and wanted to make extra money.  Henry denies involvement in selling the shoes, which leads to an argument with Radar over arch support and Henry’s alleged frugality.

Charge #3:  The 4077th has a transvestite in camp:  Henry explains who Klinger is, how he is trying to get out of the army, and how he is “very inventive” about it.

It turns out Klinger spent weeks fashioning a hand-glider out of poles and red silk   and attempted to ride the wind out of camp.  In one of the funniest sight gags broadcast on the show, we see Klinger “soar” through the air in a blue robe, goggles, and fuzzy pink slippers.

According to Henry, Klinger was found unconscious two miles from the camp “looking like a big red bird with fuzzy pink feet.”

Mitchell asks Henry if Klinger was trying to desert the United States Army.  Henry replies he would have if the tailwind had been better!

The hearing ends for the day and Mitchell puts Henry under arrest.  He advises Radar to return to camp to gather documents the Colonel will need to defend himself against the serious charges.

Back in camp, Radar explains Henry’s arrest to Hawkeye and Trapper who vow to help their Colonel.  First, they confront Frank about his “finkery” and inform him they’ll bring Nurse Cratty to the hearing to testify.  Flush with dreams of power, Frank has the captains stripped to their scivvies and placed under house arrest.

Charges #4 and #5:  falsifying requisition records to obtain extra medical supplies and giving these supplies to an American nurse, Meg Cratty, who operates a medical clinic north of the 38th Parallel.  Hawkeye and Trapper interrupt the hearing and present Cratty and one of her pregnant patients.  Cratty testifies on Henry’s behalf and then Henry finally defends himself with a powerful oratory.

Burns and Houlihan now arrive and charge the captains of being AWOL.  Mitchell decides he wants Henry cleared and wants the majors to drop the charges.  Frank refuses until Hawkeye slips him a note stating if the charges aren’t dropped, Mrs. Burns will be told about Frank and Margaret’s relationship.

The charges are hastily withdrawn and the meeting is adjourned to the Officers’ Club.

Mitchell returns to the 4077th with Henry to see the camp and is treated to the sight of Klinger in a dress and the whole camp smartly outfitted in black & white wing tip shoes.



The whole episode qualifies…here are some highlights:


Gen. Mitchell: Colonel, what did you think about Klinger’s attempt to desert the United States Army?
Henry: Well, frankly, sir, I think, uh, he might have made it if he’d had better tailwind.


Margaret: Henry Blake is unfit to command!
Trapper: We love him.
Frank: Hard cheese!


Frank (to Igor, painting rocks white): Just paint the top half and, uh, turn them over every night.


Major Murphy: Charge Three states you have a noncom who is a transvestite.
Henry: Well, I don’t pry into a man’s religion, sir.


Hawkeye: I’ve always said it. Behind every great man there’s a woman with a vibrator.


Murphy: It alleges that you falsified requisition records to obtain more plasma, penicillin and other vital medical materiel than your unit required. Further, these were delivered to your unit, but were not given to the officer in charge of supplies, Major Houlihan, according to him.
Henry: Her.
Murphy: Sir?
Henry: Him’s a her. She’s a she.
Murphy: Who’s a she?
Henry: He is.
Murphy: Houlihan?
Henry: That’s her.


Henry: General, may I say something? Before Meg Cratty set up shop, seven out of ten babies born to the hill people never made it past the first few days. My giving her penicillin and what not just made her job alot easier. No money changed hands, and I didn’t deprive our own wounded boys of one thing. I’m guilty, that’s my explanation. So you can hang my butt from a flagpole.


Nurse Cratty (present pregnant Korean woman):  This is an sample of Henry Blake’s work.


Frank: General, request permission to address this hearing.
General: Who are you?
Margaret: Majors Burns and Houlihan, sir.
General: Which is which?
Hawkeye: Doesn’t matter. They’re interchangeable.


Mitchell: I’d ask you all in for a drink, but the Officers’ Club doesn’t open for another hour.
Fox: I’ve got the key, General.
Mitchell: Fox, put yourself down for a Silver Star!



First and only episode written by McLean Stevenson.

The names of the four “horses” during the Kentucky Derby Day gurney race were Hawk’s Pride, Gal O’War, Girl Away, and Bouncing Betty.

Radar is smoking a cigar when taking bets on the race.  In the first episode of season 6, Potter has to teach him how to smoke one.

When Frank and Margaret are getting aroused, Frank suggests they go out back by the lard cans.Frequently, these two are looking for places to rendezvous.   Margaret lives alone – why didn’t they just use her tent for all their trysts?

Hawkeye got a fairly good deal getting wing tip shoes for $8.95.  Advertisements from 1951 show decent wing tips going for $10 to $20.

A rarity:  Hawkeye drinking coffee in the Swamp instead of a martini.

Style-Right’s slogan:  “If your shoes aren’t becoming to you, then you should be coming to us”

Adjusted for inflation, Hawkeye spent $79.20 for those shoes.

Klinger has the support brace over both shoulders when he takes off, but is holding onto the bottom of the brace once he goes airborne.

That’s Roy Goldman as the M.P.

Frank says his family came to the United States in 1927.  Assuming the episode occurs in 1951, that means Frank has been in the United States for 24 years.  Again, assuming he is supposed to be about 32-35 years old (Linville was 33 when this episode was filmed), Frank is not a natural U.S. citizen.

Hawkeye’s note for Frank:  “Dear Mrs. Burns, since you’re so proud of your husband as an officer, it is sad to report that he is frequently out of uniform. And maybe you should know with whom.”

A great episode from beginning to end with tons of great lines.  McLean Stevenson wrote a good one and deserves to be a Classic Episode.

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