|Combat! episode reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer
Episodes are rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
Just For The Record
Rating: 4 bayonets
While searching an abandoned French farm house, Saunders takes a moment to play a record from home on a hand-crank phonograph. Germans burst in and take him prisoner. He is transported with four other prisoners including a French civilian, Andre Mallott. The resistance intercepts the truck, kills the Germans and frees the prisoners.
Mallott stops at a French tavern to obtain gas for the return to Paris. But no gas without ration books. An attractive French woman, Annette, who is stranded in the town, overhears his predicament and offers him her coupons if he will transport her. En route to Paris she is horrified to discover she is aiding an escape. At the next stop the Germans kill Mallott. Saunders convinces the unwilling Annette to continue to the rendezvous in Paris. Against her better judgement, Annette is convinced to take one prisoner into hiding in her home until transport is arranged.
She takes Saunders to her home, and soon a German officer knocks at the door. It is Annette's lover, Kurt. He brings her soap and nylons. She fears he might think that these gifts are the only reason she cares. Their affection is genuine. For the moments they have together, there is no war, there is no enemy.
After Kurt leaves, Annette provides dinner for herself and Saunders. Following the meal, she plays the record for him, a message from his mother and sister. To the gentle sound of the ballad on side two, Annette and Saunders dance. Kurt returns unexpectedly after his meeting is cancelled. Kurt is agitated; he knows the war is lost. In this anger, he notices the English- labeled record on the phonograph. He is suspicious. He plays Louise's message, and calms; these enemies, he hardly knows them.
Next evening. Saunders is alone in the darkened apartment. The phone rings incessantly. Finally Annette and Kurt return from their picnic. Kurt goes to clean up and shave while she answers the phone. It is the resistance; Saunders must join up with them on a boat leaving Paris soon. Kurt discovers Saunders as he tries to leave. Saunders and Kurt struggle over the gun. Kurt is killed. Saunders brings Annette with him, not wanting to leave her for the Gestapo.
Next day, they are met by resistance fighters who separate them into two groups to move them through the German lines. Without a word to Saunders, Annette walks past him to the other group.
Next we see Saunders questioned by Doc, Littlejohn, and Caje about his experiences in Paris. The show ends as Saunders starts his letter home. "Dear Mom and Louise, thanks for the record ...."
In "Just For The Record" we see Sergeant Saunders not as the fighting soldier, but as a homesick young man lost in a foreign land. In the opening scene, Saunders searches a house for Germans. Everything is quiet "That's where the danger is. In the quiet." Alone, thinking of home, Saunders does something we rarely see in the series--he lets his guard down and makes a stupid mistake. When he finds a record player, he forgets the danger and plays a record from home. The mistake of the homesick boy gets the soldier captured. As often happens on television, Saunders escapes and finds himself in the hands (and the spare bedroom) of a beautiful French collaborator.
I adore this episode. It's on my top ten list. The strong script by William Bast provides ample moments for actors to shine. In Vic Morrow as "Chip" Saunders, Micheline Presle as Annette, and Alf Kjellin as Kurt, we have three capable actors who find all the nuances in these complex, richly-drawn characters. Annette's tragedy is that she is not what she appears to be. She is not the collaborator motivated by greed or desires for creature comforts. She is a woman in love. But her devotion to her German lover comes at odds with her sense of "right" when the fate of an American soldier is placed in her unwilling hands. Morrow, still new to the Saunders character when this was filmed, convincingly established the fragile side of this fearsome soldier. The scene where he listens to the message from his mother and sister is particularly well-performed--subtle and moving. Alf Kjellin as Kurt makes it apparent why Annette fell in love with this German invader. As portrayed by Kjellin, Kurt is a man of gentle strength and quiet resolve--a good soldier and good German, afraid of what lies ahead for his country and family.
1) Opening narration by Saunders; Morrow doesn't have a flair for the Sam-Spade-type
voiceover. I'm glad this wasn't made a staple of the show.
Steven Rogers as Doc
Edward Colmans ..... Andre Mallott
[Note: Dick Peabody appears as Littlejohn at end of episode, but is not in credits.]
SIDE ONE OF THE RECORD: Hello, Chip, it's Mom. I--your sister and I came downtown and we passed this record place. You know, where you can make a record and send it to the boys overseas. I should have planned what I was gonna say. I should have written it down. Your sister and me are all right. Don't you worry about us. I miss you son. We both do. Sometimes I get to missing you so much I--oh, this thing's no good. I want to ask you so many questions. How are you? Are you well, dear? Where are you? They censor your letters now so we never know. Oh, my time's almost up. I--I'm gonna let Louise use the other side. I'll have to say good-bye now. Take good care of yourself, dear. Write. And hurry home. God bless you, son.
SIDE TWO OF THE RECORD: Hi! It's the brat. I know you don't want to listen to a lot of drool from me, so I'll make it short. Any ways, I got something I know you'd rather hear. This'll really send you. It's the latest hit song here at home. Hugs and kisses, goon. Come home soon. Bye now. [music ... ]
Annette: And where is your home, Sergeant?
Dialog (42 k)
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