panel management

Combat! Season 1
Combat! Season 2
Combat! Season 3
Combat! Season 4
Combat! Season 5



Season 1
COMBAT! episodes:
[A Day in June]
[Any Second Now]
[Just for the Record]
[The Squad]
[Lost Sheep, Lost Shepherd]
[Forgotten Front]
[Missing In Action]
[Rear Echelon Commandos]
[The Chateau]
[The Prisoner]
[Escape to Nowhere]
[The Celebrity]
[Far from the Brave]
[The Quiet Warrior]
[Cat and Mouse]
[I Swear by Apollo]
[The Walking Wounded]
[The Medal]
[The Volunteer]
[No Time for Pity]
[Next in Command]
[Night Patrol]
[Off Limits]
[No Hallelujahs for Glory]
[Battle of the Roses]
[Hill 256]
[The Sniper]
[One More for the Road]
[High Named Today]
[No Trumpets, No Drums]

Back Up Next
reviews by Jo DavidsmeyerEpisodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets

Cat and Mouse

* * * 1/2

3.5 bayonets

Written & Directed by Robert Altman
Produced by Robert Altman
First aired 04-Dec-1962
(Episode 9 of Season 1)


Saunders is one of only two survivors of an ill-fated patrol into enemy territory. He must return to the blood-filled field, but now under the command of Sgt. Jenkins, an unyielding leader with little use for Saunders or Saunders’ views on how to run the mission. When the rest of their patrol is slaughtered, the two sergeants become trapped inside a millhouse used by the Germans as a command center. Saunders and Jenkins can find no compromise, taking opposite paths to achieve their mission. The mission is accomplished, thanks to Jenkins sacrifice of his own life. But the victory is hollow, the information bought by Jenkins’ blood was no longer important to the brass behind the lines. The Allied advance rolls on, crushing everything in its path.


An Altman-directed episode seems like an opportune moment to jump on a soapbox. I have not availed myself of the opportunity thus far. Do not fear, I will try to be brief.

Altman is quoted in articles about Combat!, that he is proud for being responsible for the only "anti-war" Combat! episode, and for showing the futility of war. I am guessing that the comment refers to "Cat And Mouse," primarily because this is the only episode that he is both wrote, produced, and directed. It is hard to tell for certain though, since so many of the Combat! episodes were anti-war.

I question whether a story such as "Cat and Mouse," though, truly is an example of the futility of war. It certainly shows the often futile efforts of individual soldiers and individual actions within the broad mosaic of a world conflagration. But I doubt many holocaust survivors would argue about the futility of America fighting this particular war. The effort and lives lost were not wasted. The culmination of tens of thousands of actions like those portrayed in "Cat And Mouse" and countless individual sacrifices by brave young men and women were to a purpose — a great purpose.

No one, of course, wants war. But there are times when force is required to halt an aggressor. One would wish everybody could be nice and just get along, but when all means of appeasement and discussion fail, war is far from a futile act. It can be either the ultimate form of aggression or the ultimate path to true peace. It is the responsibility of a free people to make sure that if the desperate measure of war is ever taken, that it is taken for the advancement of the latter.

I will now get off my soapbox and say, after that self-indulgent pedantry, that I really like this episode. Albert Salmi, as Sgt. Jenkins, is a perfect foil for Morrow’s Saunders. It is a pleasure to watch two pros working together under the solid direction of a gifted artist like Altman. No false notes in this episode; no gaffs of any kind. When the two sergeants clash, Saunders is up against another Sergeant as equally stubborn, battle-hardened, and certain that "right" is on his side as Saunders’ is. Watching this episode, I cannot decide which is the immovable object and which the irresistable force.

Morrow is remarkably moving in the final scene, as he reports the unneeded information that Jenkins died for. I remember this scene vividly from viewing it as a child. Thirty years later, when I finally saw the episode again, it had lost none of its power or vibrancy. The story, the acting, and the message are still relavent decades after Altman commited them to images of light and dark trapped on celluloid.

Albert Salmi was a WWII vet, read more about his war record.


  • Saunders escapes from the mill without boots or jacket, yet has both when he reports in.
  • First appearance of actor William Bryant. Bryant will become a semi-regular cast member by fifth season, playing Pvt. McCall.
  • Jenkins leaves the pre-patrol briefing with an M1 Garand and appears on patrol moments later with an M1 carbine.


Vic Morrows as Sgt. Saunders
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley

Steven Rogers as Doc
Pierre Jalbert as Caje

Guest Star Albert Salmi as Jenkins

Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
William Bryant as Major O'Connors
Hans Difflip asColonel Burgen
Ted Knight as German Captain
Robert Winston German Lieutenant
Werner Becker as first German Soldier
Frank Behrens as Captain Reed
John Alonza as Bialos

Back Up Next