Combat! reviews by Jo
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
(067) Mountain Man
Written by Edward J. Lakso
Directed by Sutton Roley
First aired 15-Sep-1964
Episode 1 of Season 3
Guest Star Theodore Bikel (pictured in cap above)
An embittered deserter is bribed into leading Saunders' squad across the
mountains. They are captured by Germans and left to freeze, but manage a daring escape.
Caje skis down the mountain for help and the deserter comes to realize the meaning of
Director Sutton Roley tries to bring
high art to this low tale of a man embittered by war. His symbolic opening and closing of
the episode (a fragment of ice floats downstream to join civilization) is touching and
silly as silly as this episode's Germans. Their interrogation of Saunders is
pathetic. A trio of interrogators surrounds Saunders, taunts him, and don't lay a finger
on him. The Germans' throwing the prisoners into an unheated bunker to chill the
information out of them seems more appropriate to a "Batman" episode, than a
realistic war series.
Saunders isn't himself: he lets himself be slapped around by a coward, lets himself be
surprised by Germans on a mountaintop with good visibility for miles, and his PPT lacks conviction. This script by Edward J. Lakso leaves
me cold. The episode is just an excuse to get world-class skier Pierre Jalbert on a pair
of skis and make use of left-over footage from "Silver Service ."
ABOUT FILMING THE EPISODE:
Producer Gene Levitt, wanting to take
advantage of Pierre Jalbert's Olympic-class skiing ability, proudly announced that Pierre
was going ski in a Combat! episode set in the mountains. Pierre explained, "Hey,
there's no mountains in Normandy, pal." To which Levitt replied, "It's okay,
Pierre. This is just TV." Of course, nobody bothered to explain how a Cajun growing
up in bayou country learned how to snow ski. Pierre recalls, "The German skiing after
me was Bob Beattie, the manager of the American Olympic ski team. He call still be seen as
a commentator for ABC."
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
- During the down-hill run,
the distance shots show one of the squad members bare-headed. In the closeups, all have
- Saunders is still too
lazy to get his own knife, thank goodness for lazy Germans who don't frisk prisoners well.
- U.S. Olympic ski coach
Bob Beattie plays the German skiing behind Caje.
- Snow locations were filmed in
Squaw Valley, California, site of the 1960 Winter Olympic Games.
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
Rick Jason as Rick Jason
Theodore Bikel as Francois Perrault
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Henry Brandon as German Lieutenant
Pieter Beagema as German Sergeant
Bob Beattie as German