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Season 4
COMBAT! episodes:

[Season 2 (1963 - 1964)]
[Ambush]
[Bridge at Chalons]
[Doughboy]
[The Long Way Home]
[A Distant Drum]
[Bridgehead]
[Masquerade]
[Infant of Prague]
[The Wounded Don't Cry]
[The Little Jewel]
[Glow Against the Sky]
[The Party]
[Anatomy of a Patrol]
[What Are the Bugles...]
[Barrage]
[Thunder from the Hill]
[The Pillbox]
[Gideon's Army]
[General and the Sergeant]
[The Hostages]
[A Silent Cry]
[Eyes of the Hunter]
[Counter-Punch]
[Mail Call]
[The Hunter]
[Weep No More]
[The Short Day of Pvt Putnam]
[Rescue]
[Command]
[The Glory Among Men]

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Combat!
reviews by Jo DavidsmeyerEpisodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets


The General and the Sergeant

Rating: 2 bayonets

Written by Gustave Field
Directed by Bernard McEveety
Produced by Gene Levitt

Aired January 14, 1964
Season 2, Episode 18
Syndication Order: ??


Synopsis

In a newly liberated town, a former French general tries to take command of Saunders' squad. Saunders takes pity on this old man who is the laughing stock of the town and plays along with him when he wants to review the troops. Saunders asks for the general's help to guide the men out of town. But on the road, the General doesn't want to be left behind. Hanley arrives to ask why Saunders hasn't established the OP and rib him about the General he has in tow. The Lieutenant orders the reluctant General to stay behind. The squad continues on to a destroyed French castle. They are caught inside when a German armored convoy stops there to refuel. They are saved from discovery by the General, who distracts the Germans. He pretends to be an addled old man and sings for the Germans, begging for money. They laugh, fill his hat with coins, then leave, never knowing that they had an American patrol at their mercy. The General tells them of a nearby chateau unoccupied by the Germans that would make a perfect OP. But Saunders discovers the Germans are holding the chateau when one of his men is killed and another wounded approaching the Chateau. The Gener- al shows up, tells them of a secret entrance into the Chateau and Saunders et al take the Germans by surprise and win the day. The episode ends back in the French village with the squad and the Lieutenant on military parade leaving the town.


Review

Eh! We've seen worse, we've seen better. John Dehner as an over-the-hill general gives a touching performance and Denise Alexander (the charming and sensitive French girl from "No Time For Pity") puts in a good show as a charming and sensitive French girl. Dehner is perhaps too good in his scenes where he makes a fool of himself. These are uncomfortable to watch. When this story strives for pathos it falls short. This episode works best where the script, direction, and, yes, the omni-present background music, is applied with a light touch.

Nice directing, nice acting, a fun script that, though on the saccharine side, still delivers entertaining moments. Forget the bulk of the epi- sode, the best bits are watching Saunders try to keep a straight face with the antics of an old man who's trying to save face (Dick Peabody's grin during the inspection is also priceless). From the first meeting where Saunders endures being kissed in public on both cheeks, to the end where the squad parades by in tribute, it's obvious that Dehner and Morrow are two pros who know how to get the most out of their camera time. Except for a scene where Hanley ribs Saunders, but then must play "bad cop" to Saunders "good cop", the rest of the episode is just filler to hold together an hour of tape.

Nice to see Dehner in Combat! He was a TV and Hollywood staple for fifty years. A great character actor, he was a regular on "The Betty White Show", "The Westerner", "The Virginian", "The Doris Day Show", "The Don Knotts Show", and several other TV series as well as appearing in over seventy films. He died of emphysema and diabetes in 1992.


Notes, Oddities, and Bloopers

  • nice short scene between Saunders and Hanley on the road. Not often we get to see a "friendly" moment between them, here Hanley's actually teasing Saunders.
     
  • poor Saunders, in this episode he gets a kiss from the general, but only a handshake from the beautiful girl. War is hell.
     
  • Kirby, as usual, has his priorities set. His only interest in the town is the caliber of its young ladies.
     
  • The most restrained (and cheap) liberation scene in all of Combat! They didn't waste any budget on flags, flowers, wine, or extras for the opening. A village of only a dozen people?
     
  • the opening scene just doesn't ring true. The first American troops into a French town were always swamped and overrun with beautiful girls and surrounded by the entire town. They were cheap with extras in this episode (a village of six people?). Don't buy that in the first moments of a town's "liberation" that the villagers would be more interested in making fun of an old man rather than celebrating their freedom.
     
  • the map scene is unintentionally funny. The general is placing pins, indicating that the Allies are still on the beaches at Normandy, but discussing the war as if the Americans have advanced far into France. When saying that Patton is striking straight at the heart of the enemy, Berlin, he's pointing on the map at the Belgium.
     
  • Can anyone read the roadsigns at the top of Act II? The third sign from the top looks like it reads 38 kilometers to Arromanche, but my tape won't freeze-frame it clearly. Bottom sign says they are 8 kilome- ters from Beaulieu. This isn't on my world atlas. Is this a real town?
     
  • Is this the only episode that mentions American Generals Bradley and Patton?
     
  • Saunders says "Caje here is from Louisianna, there's a lot of shallow water there and he's an expert." Gee, Caje is a shallow water expert, skiing expert, and skilled interpreter! What a handy guy to have on patrol. I guess since Louisiana has a mighty big river, that makes him a big river expert, too. Probably plays great jazz as well :-)
     
  • The cemetery the General visits is the same cemetery Saunders' love is buried in in "Furlough". Love the tombstone for the General's wife: Elizabeth Ashley Bouchard. This episode came out the same year as "The Carpetbaggers", which launched Elizabeth Ashley's career. I wonder if the tombstone was deliberate.
     
  • songs sung by the General in the Chateau are "Muss I' Denn", a German folk song, and "Claire de Lune"
     
  • Saunders, again without a knife. Inside the chateau, Saunders grabs the German from behind, but then has to twist him around toward Caje where Caje can then knife him. Gee, Saunders is letting every do his dirty work for him in this episode :-)
     
  • Toward the end, Saunders says the general has to stay behind because "You're the only one without a gun." Geez, go ahead and emasculate the old guy!

Cast Credits

Vic Morrow
as Sgt. Saunders

Rick Jason
as Lt. Hanley

Guest Star
John Dehner
as General Armand Bouchard

Jack Hogan as Kirby
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Tom Lowell as Billy Nelson
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Conlan Carter as Doc

Christian Pasques .... First Young Man
Lucien Lanvin .... Second Young Man
Maria Schroeder .... Young girl #1
Gabrielle Rossillon .... Young girl #2
Renaud Villedieu .... Boy
Mathias Uitz .... German Soldier #1

Denise Alexander
as Jacqueline


Dialog Excerpts

Kirby:
Whaddaya mean? You going down to see that old coot?
Saunders:
That old coot was a general, knock it off Kirby. He's an old man, so treat him with respect.

Saunders:
Well, General, you see, I am only a -- I'm only a sergeant. And, uh, I don't know what the strategic plan is. And the ones who do, sir, wouldn't think of letting me in on it. In fact, sir, I don't have any orders to turn my men over to a new command.

Hanley:
I heard all about the noble, wonderful, kind American sergeant Saunders.

General:
Insubordination. This is insubordination.
Saunders:
Well, General, the lieutenant is an officer. And as an officer he expects to have his orders carried out.
General:
I will not take orders from a junior officer.

Billy:
Poor old guy, the Lieutenant really laid it on the line, didn't he?
Saunders:
That's the Lieutenant's job.

No Time to Feel Sorry (45K)


Other Voices

  • Nancy Durgin rates it 3 bayonets and says:
    "It starts out seeming like a silly episode, but it really doesn't turn out like one. Saunders wants to show some respect for the old soldier, but events get out of his control. That aspect reminds me of "One For the Road" in some ways. Also, there are similarities to "Doughboy" (with Eddie Albert as the old WWI soldier). It seems Hanley gets the Nuns and Greeks, while Saunders gets to deal with the crazy old WWI soldiers, and the babies. [...] I love the little "troop review" at the end of the episode. Nice touch. I believe this is the only "formal military formation" in the entire series. I was watching my copy with the original commercials in it. Sponsers included a cigarette company (one of the more obscure brands -- doinga detailed explanation of how great their new filter system was), Dial ("People who like people use Dial"), Barbasol, and Ben Gay. There were no previews for the next episode, but I think that's because this episode ran long.
     
  • From khollem: "For me the moral of the story is that the General is able to save the day because of Saunders' sensitivity. If he had sent the old man packing with a stern reprimand he wouldn't have saved them when they were in hiding and they wouldn't have discovered the secret passage that was so handy. Saunders was good at not judging people at face value (such as in S.I.W) and he was usually (always!) right."

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File last updated June 28, 2012

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