(002) Any Second Now
Rating: 3.5 bayonets
Robert Altman directed this strong script by Gene Levitt. In "Any Second Now" Altman deals with his favorite subject and setting church and Catholicism. He revels in the stark, moody visuals of a Gothic church in ruins. By flickering candlelight he explores the themes of fall from grace and eventual redemption. Though his direction is firm and stirring, his symbolism gets rather heavy-handed; especially his choice to end the show not with a reconciliation between Hanley and his rescuer, or with a reunion between Saunders and Hanley, but concludes with the final image of the priest returning the host to the altar. Though fascinating in its style, clever interplay of characters, and its brooding look into the soul of a broken man, "Any Second Now" reveals the same problems that run rampant throughout Altman's other Combat! outings uneven technical work. The continuity is faulty and the lighting inconsistent and ill-thought throughout. I tire of seeing flashlights used in well-lit scenes and wonder at the mysterious flashlight on Hanley's chest that appears and disappears at random.
Rick Jason is in top form under Altman's direction. Though he spends the bulk of the episode flat on his back, he manages to command the respect of the bomb-disposal officer, command his scenes, and command the attention of the camera in a remarkable performance. His reactions and banter-under-stress as he fights against the pain and fear are a pleasure to watch. I particularly like the cocky smirk as he smashes the morphine ampule and the impatient look when he's told that he's trapped underneath a time bomb. At the top of "Any Second Now," Jason reprises that charming lady-killer we saw in "A Day In June", an aspect of the Hanley character we see so rarely in Combat! He puts his 200-watt smile, innocent green eyes, and a bagful of practiced pick-up lines to good use charming a British nurse (Ellen Willard). But she's in the story only to salve the wounds and the heart of David, the bomb-disposal officer (Alex Davion). Donald May, who soap fans may remember from the "Edge of Night" appears as a Major.
And Special Guest Star
Shecky Green as Braddock
Emile Genest ..... Emile
Anne: David, why are you so peevish about the Americans
David: They talk big, for one thing.
Anne: And they die big.
Hanley: A rough one, huh?
David: I said keep quiet.
Hanley: I would if I thought it would help.
David: I don't need any help.
Hanley: I was talking about me. I'm scared stiff. You know, sometimes it helps to keep gabbing.
David: Sometimes. You know anything about German bombs? How they work?
Hanley: No. But this seems like a good time to learn.
David: You think I'm a coward, don't you?
Hanley: No. I think you think people will call you a coward if you walk out of here.
David: You're right.
Hanley: Why? I don't call an infantryman a coward because stops charging when his gun is shot out of his hands.
David: It's different.
Hanley: No. He needs a gun for his kind of war, you need steady nerves for yours.
David: What are you trying to do, talk me into walking out of here?
Hanley: Makes sense, doesn't it? I mean, you've got to make up your mind either to go that way out the door, or that way. You'll admit it beats just standing around. You've got to make up your mind. One way or the other.
Hanley's advice (100 k)