Combat! reviews by Jo
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
Aired OCT-01-1963 - Season 2, Episode 3
Syndication Order: 40
"Masquerade," two German infiltrators try to make it to battalion headquarters
under the pretense of escorting a "captured" German Colonel. Their plans are
complicated first by a landmine that disables their jeep and then by a suspicious
Saunders. In a clever script by Anthony Wilson, Kanger (played by James Coburn) matches
wits with Saunders in a deadly game of survival.
Dan Stafford plays
Lt. Comstock, an infiltrator not quite up to the task. Though his "American"
passes muster, he is betrayed by his humanity. He blanches at the sight of a dead German
in the street; he's unwilling to sacrifice his commanding officer for the sake of the
mission; and when Germans attack the town, he is unable to fully play GI and gun down his
fellow soldiers. Kanger is unbothered by such moral dilemmas. There's no veneer of
civilization on this predator. And when Comstock endangers Kanger's survival, Kanger
dispatches him without hesitation.
Coburn plays this infiltrator with a mesmerizing menace, adopting animalistic
mannerisms and a keen, predator's gaze. His manner is as easy as his smile as he deftly
turns away suspicions, or turns on the offensive when the questioning takes a dangerous
turn. My favorite scene is between him and Saunders in the barn; Coburn turns the tables
on Saunders' subtle interrogation, becoming the verbal attacker. The tension of this duel
of words is heightened by the body language, as the two constantly shift to attack
positions as they speak; the threat in their physical movements is in sharp contrast with
their conversational banter. Morrow's Saunders is a match for Kanger, meeting every deft
ploy with his own sharp wit and cunning. Ultimately Kanger is defeated by his own
arrogance -- the confidence in his superiority to those American suckers.
Notes, Oddities, and Bloopers
- Odd that everyone in the platoon is so familiar with the battalion medical staff. Hanley
knows who the best surgeon is; everyone is old friends with the ambulance driver (even
though he never comes to the front). Just how much time do these guys spend back in the
- Saunders! Stop taking advantage of unconscious guys! After the jeep accident, he
unbuttons Coburn's shirt in an unmilitary fashion. Yeah, Coburn needed it loosened to help
his breathing. Right.
- I think Coburn got his actions wrong in the scene after Comstock's death. Coburn hands a
cigarette to Saunders, who sort of looks at it funny until Caje smiles and says "no
thanks", wrong person -- *then* Saunders says thanks and takes one.
- Badly crafted exposition scene as Saunders talks about Kanger to the squad. Silly dialog
with Kirby and Littlejohn whining about those nasty Krauts not playing fair. And after
Littlejohn asks about Kanger (while standing next to Caje), Caje then ALSO asks about
Kanger a minute later. Weren't you listening, Caje, or is that beret on too tight?
- Saunders bio info: says he's from "out West" when talking with Kanger, later
says he's from Illinois when questioned by guards.
- 361st was stationed outside Sheffield before D-Day.
- Infiltrators claim to be from the 594th.
- The infiltrator should recheck those facts: St. Paul is not the Gateway to the West.
- Action takes place after the liberation of Paris.
- The interplay between Saunders and Hanley is interesting, especially how Hanley
officially dismisses Saunders and his concerns, then goes ahead and contacts battalion
when Saunders isn't around.
as Lt. Hanley
as Sgt. Saunders
as Cpl. Arnold Kanger
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Conlan Carter as Doc
Norman Alden ..... PFC Cooper
Rick Traeger ..... German Colonel
George Keymas ..... Captain Simms
K.L. Smith ..... 1st G.I.
Jacque Shelton ..... 2nd G.I.
Bruce Watson ..... Sentry
Alex Burke ..... 1st Man
Dan Stafford as Lt. David Comstock
- One more slip, Lieutenant, and I may have to kill you just so this animal can survive.
- You've been up here too long, haven't you, Lieutenant?
- There aren't any rules in war, Littlejohn. There's still plenty of Krauts out there in
their own uniforms. Let's worry about them.