Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer * Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
(007) Missing In Action
Rating: 2 bayonets
Teleplay by James S. Henerson and Sidney Marshall
Story by Birne Lay, Jr.
Produced by Robert Blees
Aired November 13, 1962
Season 1, Episode 6
to right from the collection of Janice Payne. Copyright ABC television. )
The 456th Bomber Wing is engaged in a "milk run," bombing raids of railway
station at Roen. Colonel Japko's plane is shot down.
Two months later: nighttime on the front lines--Fergus, Caje, 2and Braddock are
startled by a figure coming through the lines. Fergus shoots him, but the man struggles to
the squad's position and identifies himself as an American flyer. Before dying, he tells
that the famous Colonel Japko is alive and sequestered in a French farmhouse.
Hanley is detailed to rescue Japko. He takes Caje, Braddock, and Fergus. A member of
the French underground, Gallard, smuggles them through German lines hidden in the back of
farm truck. But Fergus is wounded when a German shoots into their hiding place in the
Meanwhile, at the farm, the farmer's niece, Denise, has fallen in love with Japko and
doesn't want him to leave. She attempts, unsuccessfully, to seduce Hanley to get him to
leave Jabko be- hind. Denise, so desperate to keep her love close, becomes an informer.
The Germans raid the farm, shooting her aunt and uncle, but leaving her alive. Japko
leaves in disgust. He is returned to "milk runs" with his squadron.
"Missing In Action", Hanley and a small band must rescue Colonel Hobey Jabko
(Howard Duff), a famous aviator shot down over occupied France two months ago. But in the
two months, Jabko has been nursed back to health by a French couple and their beautiful
niece Denise (oh, doesn't that have a poetic ring - "niece Denise"). Neither he
nor she are anxious for him to be rescued. To complicate Hanley's mission behind enemy
lines, one of his men accidentally killed Jabko's crewman whom he had sent to them for
help--not something that endears Hanley or his men to the Colonel.
This story of love and betrayal is a bit confused and cluttered.
Byron Paul, in his only outing as a Combat! director, doesn't provide any clarity or focus
to the story. Perhaps the writer is trying to tell too much. Wrenching scenes of Private
Fergus agonizing over accidentally killing the American officer are mixed with comic
scenes involving Braddock's personal hy- giene, and a hot scene between Jabko and the
deep-voiced Denise. The script asks too much from everyone, especially Caje, who can't
decide from scene to scene what his emotional state is--he runs into the barn, announces
that Fergus is dead and that he's really nervous hanging around here, then runs out in an
agitated state. Next we cut immediately to the interior of the French farmhouse and see
Caje laughing and telling jokes with the French farmwife as she prepares a meal.
Strong performances by guest stars Howard Duff and Maria Marchado. And some interesting
visual images: a weeping collaborator tripping over the corpse of a German and being left
behind in the dirt; a helpless Hanley and Caje watching in silent horror as a soldier is
shot before their eyes.
This isn't a bad episode to watch--but it's not among their best. It's just not very
Combat! in flavor. This story centers more around the guests than our favorite squad. This
episode could just have easily been shot for "Twelve O'Clock High" with no
changes to the script except a character name or two.
Oddities, Notes, and Bloopers
- Can't you shoot women in 1962 television? Denise should have gotten it between the eyes.
The resistance didn't tolerate traitors.
- Also, in 1962 couldn't you make it clear that a woman was offering her body? I wish they
had clarified the point a bit more--it established early in the story that Denise was
willing to trade "in flesh" to keep her flyer at her side. Unfortunately, she
was trading other lives. (Perhaps if Hanley had known how few and far between women were
going to be in the five years of Combat!, he might not have been so quick to turn down her
- Braddock kicked butt. In this episode we get to see the funny man do some real fighting.
- Hanley should have taken Denise up on her offer
- If Gallard (the French resistance fighter) comes and goes easily between the farmhouse
and the Allied lines, then why didn't *he* deliver the message about Jabko to the Allies?
Did we really need to open the show with a senseless death?
- Why did Saunders look on the Lieutenant's dog tags to check his rank? Rank isn't on dog
as Lt. Gil Hanley
Shecky Greene as Braddock
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Howard Duff as
Colonel Hobey Jabko
Maria Machado as
Louis Mercier ..... Gallard
Glen Cannon ..... Tate
Michael Petit ..... Roger
Barton Heyman ..... Fergus
- OPENING NARRATION BY COLONEL JABKO:
- Just another milk run. That's what it started out to be. But it didn't end that way. We
hit the French coast at daylight and broke off in groups of three. When we reached Roen
the Germans began to throw everything they had at us. We found ourselves knee-deep in
109s. Before our fighters could get 'em off our back, the ship on my right got it and he
had to fall away. I was watching her go when my starboard engine caught fire. I tried to
stay in the air, but I couldn't So, I pushed the jump button and headed for the nearest
exist. I was the last one out. Everything was suddenly very quiet. Like the war was a
million miles away. But it wasn't. It was directly below me. And I was about to land
square on top of it.
- Why Lieutenant, it isn't every day a soldier gets the opportunity to forsake the dull,
boring drudgery of combat for a nice, exciting, glorious mission.
- My men haven't been off the line for three weeks, sir. They're coming apart at the
seams. What happens proves that--
- Lieutenant, this came from upstairs to division. From division to regiment. And regiment
to me. Colonel Jabko's a little more important than you and I may think. He's a wing
- Yes, sir. His picture's been on magazine covers.
- "Send in the best man available." And you're it.
- I'm flattered, sir.
- Boy, he sure was stupid.
- Who was what?
- That Mr. Wild-Blue-Yonder there. What's his name? Lt. Tate? Man, he sure was stupid.
- Because I killed him?
- No. Because he let you kill him.
- Wait a minute, Caje. We had just as much to do with it.
- Bargin' into a gun emplacement in a combat area like that. Even without yelling or
- What did you expect with all those German flares going off? Maybe he should advertise to
them where he was.
- It's over. Knock it off.
- Do you have to take him away?
- Well, that's not entirely up to me.
- He said you and your men could go back without him. If *you* wished.
- He said "maybe."
- I could persuade him, I think, if I could persuade you. I love him. He's everything. He
came to me weary and tired and with a bad leg. Exhausted from the war. Exhausted from
leading too many missions. And I...I healed him. For me there has never been another man.
Not before the war, not now. And I want him to stay here on my uncle's farm. And I find
the man I've wanted all my life.
- It's not up to me.
- A little, yes. It is a little up to you. How can I persuade you? What can I do for you
to convince you?
- Denise Olivier, you're quite a girl.