Combat! reviews by Jo
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
(024) Night Patrol
Rating: 1/2 bayonet
Teleplay by Frank Jessee
Story by Quentin Sparr
Directed by Burt Kennedy
Produced by Burt Kennedy
First aired March 5, 1963
Season 1, Episode 22
Syndication Order: 24
Burt Kennedy's directorial farewell to
Combat! was "Night Patrol," a confused story about a mysterious lieutenant the
squad encounters while out on night patrol. It's a tale of fear and suspicion, of dark
secrets hidden and revealed in the confines of a cavern. This story is stylized, moody,
and mysterious -- none of which is handled particularly well in director Burt Kennedy's
last Combat! episode.
The plot suffers badly from multiple personality. It can't quite decide what it wants
to be from scene to scene. In the end, I'm not sure of the point, or really who the
character Billy Joe was or why we should care. Perhaps the poor plot had too many writers
mangling it: the story is by Quentin Sparr, the teleplay by Frank Jesse, and with so many
Kennedy story touches, I'm assuming Kennedy had the red pen out quite a bit on this
script. Kennedy's strength is character development, but the
"character-oriented" scenes seem out of place in this quasi-ghost story. The
banter between Billy and Littlejohn is adorable (and unnecessary); as usual, I like the
Kirby presented by Kennedy, but the goofy line about Kirby not knowing what time 0-700
hours was, was just a cheap shot at humor.
The story begins well, with cross-cut scenes of both a German platoon and Hanley's
platoon preparing for a night patrol. The usual Kennedy banter works well here. The final
scene is also effective; it starts with Saunders giving his less-than-truthful report to
Hanley and ends with a beautiful dolly shot of Hanley on the phone reading the names off
dog tags. But in the middle, once Skip Homeier appears as the mysterious lieutenant, the
story's pretty hopeless.
The interior sets for the cave are magnificent. The scenes are beautifully lit, with
light dancing off the water painting wavering, ghostly images on the damp walls. But I do
feel obliged to ask the question: where did the light come from in this underground
Skip Homeier (a Trek alumnus) appears later in Combat in better episodes: "The
Impostor" and "Entombed" where Homeier also plays a character trapped in a
Notes, Oddities, and Bloopers
- Kirby with that M1 again. At this point in season 1, the BAR is not yet his full-time
- Kudos for avoiding the standard Hollywood cliche... actors in distress actually enter a
cave that DOESN'T cave in
- As the actors rush into the cave, they bump against the stone wall and it moves.
- Recurring squad members: Baker and Brockmeyer are mentioned by name, but they do not
appear in this episode, though Davis has a minor scene with Hanley. Davis appears often in
season 1 and occasionally in season 2.
as Sgt. Saunders
as Lt. Hanley
Skip Homeier as Billy Joe
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Tom Lowell as Billy Nelson
Bill Harlow as Davis
[Note: uncredited appearance by Eric Braeden (aka Hans Gudegast)
KIRBY: What's all this creep and crawl, Sarge? Now why don't we just go out there and
grab ourselves a Kraut?
KIRBY: It's gonna be cold out there, Sarge. I thought --
SAUNDERS: Trouble with you Kirby is you don't think at all.
SAUNDERS: Now, for the last time, does everybody know what this is all about?
BILLY: You mean the war, Sarge?
LITTLEJOHN: He doesn't mean the war.
SAUNDERS: I like a squad with a sense of humor. I hope yours lasts through the night.
KIRBY: If the army expects me to crawl around these dirty, damp caves, the least they
can do is turn their back if I want to use a little alcohol for medicinal purposes. A
fellow could catch his death of cold in a place like this.
KIRBY: Hey, what time is it?
KIRBY: What time's that?
HANLEY: I'll see you in the cemetery.
BILLY JOE: You know you can get about five years in the stockade for going against an
DAVIS: I'll bet I know what's holding up the sergeant. That little drip Nelson probably
got lost. He's gonna cost us the war.
View comments about this Episode
- add your own comment
Hollywood Trail Boss:
Behind the Scenes of the Wild, Wild Western
by Burt Kennedy
At RECON '98 (the Combat! cast reunion) we were fortunate to have Combat!
director Burt Kennedy as a guest. He shared great anecdotes of the series and of
Hollywood. Read in this book his experiences as a director in the heyday of the Hollywood
western. The book is as charming and fascinating as the man himself, and gives insight
into the man who defined the character of Sgt. Saunders. Order Hollywood Trail Boss