Combat! reviews by Jo
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
(019) The Medal
Guest Star Frank Gorshin
Written by Richard Maibaum
Directed by Paul Stanley
Produced by Richard Maibaum
First aired 08-Jan-1963 (Episode 14 of Season 1)
The squad is pinned down by a tank and it is up to two close friends, Wharton (Frank
Gorshin) and DAmato (Joseph Campanella), to free them. In a selfless act of bravery,
DAmato takes out the tank and guns down a platoon of German infantryman at the cost
of his own life. Hanley and Saunders mistakenly credit Wharton with the heroic action.
When Hanley recommends Wharton for a Silver Star, he keeps silent, knowing the medal will
impress his girlfriend, who has just sent him a Dear John letter. He becomes torn over his
need to be a hero and his guilt at robbing a dead comrade of his deserved glory.
Edward Knight plays this week's captured German
Writer Richard Maibaum provides fans a squad story in "The Medal." In its
first season, Combat! showed whole-squad interaction at its best, and "The
Medal" is the a example of that first season dynamic. The concepts of friendship,
loyalty, and heroism are tested to their limits and redefined within the heart of a man
torn by loyalty to a woman who abandoned him and to the comrade-in-arms who never did.
The relationships are keynote to this story. "The Medal" explores the special
kinship that develops between soldiers who daily face death together, with no one to
depend on but each other. The banter between D'Amato and Wharton hides the stong
"male bond" that sustains them through their ordeals and terrors. It is the same
teasing banter shown between Littlejohn and Nelson, and, as it developed later in the
series, between Caje and Kirby, and even between Saunders and Hanley, shown briefly as
they discuss how the army and Saunders have disagreed in the past.
The promised medal came at a time to fill a need in Wharton. Frank Gorshin is superb as
Wharton. He had just lost his best friend and his girl. He did not plan on taking credit
for D'Amato's actions, but when the squad jumped to the wrong conclusion, he got caught up
in the momentum. He grasped at anything that might impress the girl that he had already
lost, even at the risk of stealing a best friends rightful reward for heroism.
"No ones in this for the glory, unless hes a psycho," says Saunders.
"Theyre just doing their job." Everyone who fought in that horrible war
was a hero.
In the end, Whartons ultimate act of bravery was done for all the squad to see.
He confessed to them how he had cheated his buddy and finally restored to his fallen
friend the honor that was his due.
Frank Gorshin and Vic Morrow
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
- In battle with German 58th Grenadiers regiment (same as they fought against at St. Lo).
- The commentary on medals is a good addition to the gospel according to Saunders.
- DAmatos tank charge is reminiscent of real-life Audie Murphys
medal-winning act of heroism.
- Incorrect POV shots whenever anyone surveys the carnage around the tank and very erratic
lighting in the night scenes.
- So nice to know there are other platoons around who occasionally help 2nd platoon win
- Baker's back awfully soon after getting hospitalized in "Reunion"
- Caje does a lousy job of keeping guard. He is busy butting into Wharton's private life
when he should be watching for Germans.
- Saunders is "barbed-wired" on the same street where he was shot a few episodes
earlier in "Reunion." He should avoid that corner in the future.
- All the letters that the squad receives are addressed in the same handwriting.
- Saunders hands are covered with blood while trapped on the wire, but are clean a few
minutes later when he was bringing Frank in.
- All that screaming on the barbed wire and Saunders only winds up with one band-aid on
- Paul Maibaum also scripted most of the James Bond films.
- I love that it's a "boutique" sign that proves to be Saunders downfall.
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley
Guest Star Frank Gorshin as Wharton
Co-starring Joseph Campanella as Vincent D'Amato
Steven Rogers as Doc
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Edward Knight as Lt. Kohrs (spelling?)
Tom Lowell as Billy Nelson
Dennis Robertson as Baker
Fletcher Fist as Brockmeyer
Tom Troup as Medic
Clegg Hoyt as Cook
Gordon Bruce as German