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Season 3 COMBAT! episodes:
[Season 3: Overview]
[Silver Service]
[The Long Walk]
[Mountain Man]
[The Duel]
[Vendetta]
[Operation Fly Trap]
[The Impostor]
[Losers Cry Deal]
[Point of View]
[Dateline]
[Brother, Brother]
[The Hard Way Back]
[The Little Carousel]
[Fly Away Home]
[A Rare Vintage]
[The Enemy]
[A Gift of Hope]
[A Walk with an Eagle]
[Birthday Cake]
[The Cassock]
[The Town that Went Away]
[The Convict]
[The Steeple]
[More than a Soldier]
[The Long Wait]
[The Tree of Moray]
[Cry in the Ruins]
[Heritage]
[The Hell Machine]
[Billy the Kid]
[Beneath the Ashes]
[Odyssey]

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Combat!
reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer * Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets 


(087) The Steeple

RATING:
bayonetbayonetbayonet
3 bayonets

Written by Don Tait
Directed by John Peyser
First aired 09-Feb-1965
Episode 21 of Season 3

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SYNOPSIS:

Saunders, Caje, and Kirby try to rescue a paratrooper captain before he is spotted by the Germans. The captain dangles from a church steeple, his chute caught on the spire. With the aid of the town priest, Saunders pulls the captain off the spire right before the eyes of the Germans below.

bayonetbayonetbayonetREVIEW:

This episode has many so flaws in the action and the plot that it should be laughable, but, somehow it all works. A guilty pleasure, I enjoy this story more with each viewing, even as I notice more problems.

"The Steeple" has Saunders to the rescue once again, trying to save an injured paratrooper hanging from a steeple in a German-occupied town. Saunders does all the cliche hero-things that fans have come to expect, and he does them brilliantly. Yes, another patented "let's berate the superior officer for his own good to knock him back into his senses" speech, plus the usual "let's put on a German uniform and fool the bad guys" scenario, and another German with bad footwear that makes him come to a bad end. Somehow it fits together and entertains.

The plot seems inspired by the famous incident of the paratrooper at St. Mere Eglise.  On D-Day, the parachute of an American paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne caught on the Steeple of the church at St. Mere Eglise, stranding him there for several hours during the early stage of the invasion. He hung there feigning death while his fellow soldiers landed and attempted to take the town. In memory of the events of these days, the town keeps a mannequin attached to a parachute that is draped over the steeple. This incident is covered in the film "The Longest Day" with the paratrooper played by Red Buttons.

For list of books about WWII Paratroopers

NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:

Saunders has remarkably good hearing. From thirty feet above, he hears quiet conversations on the ground.

]In the belfry as the church bells peel, Kirby and Caje cover both ears to protect their hearing. Saunders only covers one, to no ill effect.

Immediately after being deafened by church bells, Caje hears the whispered voice of the priest on the ground floor.

Why doesn't the bell ring when four soldiers climb down the bell rope?

Again, the plot features one-size-fits-all German uniforms. When Saunders puts on the German uniform jacket after knifing the German, the jacket has no hole or blood, and neither is there any sign of a wound on the dead German.

Saunders leaves his camo helmet behind in the belfry but has it back again in the next scene.

Jean del Val, who plays the priest, appeared in "Birthday Cake" and "The Mockingbird."

ABOUT FILMING THE EPISODE:

Pierre Jalbert was impressed with the technical skills of regular Combat! director John Peyser." As he shoots [an] episode, he was cutting it in the camera. Directors who don't know what they're doing, they roll a lot of film and let the editor put it together. It's like reconstructing a house. But Peyser, he knew the business backwards and sideways. So we'd come in the morning, do ten pages — doesn't matter if it's tanks, explosions — and we'd go home at 3:00. He wouldn't watch as we rolled. He didn't have to. He'd play frisbee."

CAST:

Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
Lt. Hanley as Rick Jason [does not appear]

Jack Hogan as Kirby
Pierre Jalbert as Caje

Robert Cornthwaite as Captain Priller
Jean del Val as Father Bomar
Steve Landers as Hans
Horst Ebersberg as Sgt. Dekker
Patrick Michenaud as Boy
and
David Sheiner as Captain Ridell
(pictured above)

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File last updated June 28, 2012

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