After losing a superior officer in the
field, Saunders and squad allow themselves to be captured by the enemy to liberate a
famous American correspondent being held by the Germans. But the wounded correspondent,
Robert Barton, refuses to take any risks to gain his freedom, preferring a prison cell to
the dangers of an escape.
In "Dateline," Saunders teaches a war correspondent what it really means to
live a war, not just write about it. Dan Duryea, as Barton, is fine as the cowardly
reporter, who cares more for his own security than for the Allies or the men who have come
to rescue him.
The script by Richard L. Newhafer is thin, requiring long marches through the woods to
fill the hour. Director Sutton Roley devised innovative ways to march the squad along to
Rosenman's music. He creates some interesting squad-on-patrol shots: fording lakes,
leaping walls, crossing rail bridges. But the shots are more interesting than exciting.
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
· The cord on the hat of German major who gives Barton morphine alternates between
being tucked behind the cockade and falling forward.
· In the scene where Saunders holds Barton at knife point, the knife is alternately held
overhand and underhand.
· Good job of making a few jeeps on the MGM lot look like a battalion motorpool.
ABOUT FILMING THE EPISODE:
Conlan Carter recalls one silly incident filming with Henry Beckman, who
plays the German Major. "We were shooting the thing like at nine o'clock at night. We
were bone tired, getting stupid and ridiculous. The scene was for Beckman to walk into the
stable . . . and see that we had escaped. And he was to say something appropriate in
German.' Beckman walked in, looked at the escape tunnel, hit his leg with a riding crop
and said, with a flawless Yiddish accent, 'Ho, boy!' Well, it just hit everybody and we
started laughing. And we laughed for thirty minutes. We couldn't keep doing the show. We
just sat down for about a half an hour, because every time we'd start to do it, we'd start
laughing again. It wasn't that funny, except for that moment when we all were so goofy.
And it was hysterical. The Jewish expression coming from a dyed-in-the-wool German. Nobody
expected him to do it, it was a total ad lib and we obviously couldn't use itthey
were rolling when he did it."
Dick Peabody says, "I'll give you an example of Sutton Roley. On Lot 3, up high,
about ten feet off the ground, they built a section of a railroad track. And Sutton, with
his wonderful sense of drama as far as camera placement was concerned, wanted a shot with
the camera below, looking up through the ties at me as I'm walking along the railroad
track. It was a great idea. The first take, I'm walking over there, and he says, 'Wait a
minute. Cut,! Dick, don't look down. That ruins the whole thing when you look down.' I
said, 'If you think I'm going to walk across this thing ten feet off the ground and not
look where I'm stepping, forget it.' ... How are you going to do that. No one in their
right mind is going to do that." In the sequence, all the actors who walk across the
railroad tracks glance down at their feet.
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley [does not appear]
Dan Duryea as Barton
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Conlan Carter as Doc
Douglas Henderson as Reardon
Kurt Landen as Guard
Rank Kodmen as German Sergeant
Ray Baxter as German #1
Roger Gentry as German #2
Peter Hellman as German Guard
Henry Beckman as Major Mueller
Related Reading about war correspondents
Reporting World War II:
American Journalism 1938-1946
The work of more than 50 remarkable reporters has been drawn from
original newspaper and magazine reports, radio transcripts, and wartime books to capture
the intensity of WWII's unfolding drama. Stories by Ernie Pyle, E. B. White, John
Steinbeck, Edward R. Murrow, Martha Gellhorn, James Agee, John Hersey - whose Hiroshima
appears in full -and many more. Also includes a detailed chronology (1933-1945), maps,
journalist profiles, and a glossary of military terms. At 874 pages, this is a huge volume
packed with incredible eye-witness reports.
Check price at
Also available in hardcover:
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WWII War Correspondent