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TV Guide

That's Snow Business (page 1 of 2)
How Combat! combined real and fake winter setting for this week's episode
Oct. 10 - 16, 1964

Copyright 1964 by TV Guide.
(Scanned from the collection of Earl Parker)

Filming Combat! episode inside MGMstudio
Winter inside an MGM studio sound stage.

In the vast, snowy expanses of Squaw Valley, Cal., who needs artificial snow? Television producers, that's who.

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Technicians carry tree at Squaw Valley after spraying it with artificial snow.

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Setting up scene on MGM set.

Director Sutton Roley
Director Sutton Roley and cameraman at Squaw Valley.

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On set, man manipulates tree branches with threads.

When Combat! started location filming for some scenes for "Silver Servie," an episode featuring Mickey Rooney, Claudine Longet (Mrs. Andy Williams), Jack Hogan and former silent-film star Ramon Novarro — which will air this Tuesday (Oct. 13) — the producers found the ground snowy but the trees snowless. The strong winds kept them that way. The script called for wintry scenes, especially snow-covered trees, to convince the viewers it was really cold outside. The Squaw Valley film was to be spliced into shots to be made back at MGM's home studios. So the Hollywood set would have plenty of snow, too.

Had anyone remembered to bring snow to snowy Squaw Valley? Special-effects man Virgil Beck had. Out of his bag of tricks came a spray can of the ordinary Christmas-tree snow anyone can buy during the holiday.

Mounting the Squaw Valley safari from MGM's Hollywood studios, where Combat! has been fought for these past two years, were some 25 technicians and production executives. Included were grips, stand-ins, stuntmen, a five-man camera crew, producer Gene Levitt, associate producer Richard Caffey, and director Sutton Roley. To keep costs down and do the job in quick-time, the stars were left at home, as was all sound and lighting equipment. Local people — ski instructors and members of the area ski patrol — were hired as stand-ins for the long background shots.

The entire location shooting was completed in five days at a cost of approximately $10,000 extra — both figures low by even TV standards. Said Caffey, "If we had been shooting for the movies, it would have taken us three times as long.

"But it was an exhausting five days," Caffey added. "We had to keep shifting positions because we needed trackless snow. Then, because we couldn't mark the snow, we didn't know how deep or how safe it was. Two of the men broke ribs and one broke his hand."

A bonus: So much of the Squaw Valley footage was left that they are planning to use it in a future Combat! episode.

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