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Season 5
COMBAT! episodes:

[The Gun]
[The Losers]
[Ollie Joe]
[The Brothers]
[The Chapel at Able Five]
[A Child's Game]
[The Letter]
[The Outsider]
[The Bankroll]
[Cry for Help]
[The Furlough]
[The Gantlet]
[The Masquers]
[A Little Jazz]
[Nightmare on the Red Ball Run]
[The Partisan]

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


Rating: 2.5 bayonets

Teleplay by Paul Playdon and Bob Frederick
Story by William Bast
Directed by Bernard McEveety
Produced by Richard Caffey

Aired Jan-03-1967 - Season 5, Ep. 16 - Syndication Order: 146


After rescuing captive French resistance fighters, the squad regroups in an abandoned mine. When the Germans attack, they retreat inside. A German grenade creates a cave-in, trapping Germans, Frenchman, and Americans all with the roof threatening to cave in. The Germans propose an uneasy truce. Each soldier keeps their weapon.

While seeking another exit, someone hidden deeper in the mine fires upon them. In three languages the person is ordered to cut it out. a beautiful French girl, Marianne, emerges from the shadows. She was hiding their with a sick German infantryman, Johann Schiller. They're in love and were running away to find a place where the could be left alone. The French resistance fighter, Jacques, hates the collaborator, since a collaborator was responsible for his brother's death.

One group starts to dig the front entrance out with bayonets and the others search for exits. Water and food are rationed. When they determine that no other exits exist, all begin digging, except Marianne and her deserter. He is dehydrated because of his pneumonia; all but Jacques give up their water ration for him.

The two privates (the German Wexler and American Pfc. Bishop)become close. While digging, the German Lt. Mauer confesses to admiring the deserter, that he has found something to live for. The attentions of Marianne to her lover finally moves Jacques and softens his heart (if not his

With hope of digging their way to freedom abandoned, they use grenades to try to blow entrance open. Doesn't work. Meanwhile, the deserter has died and they all return to digging. Hopeless, Mauer decides to kill himself to avoid a lingering death, not knowing an exit has been discovered. Hanley tries to stop him. In struggle over gun, Hanley is shot. Bishop, thinking it was deliberate, kills Mauer. His friend Wexler is about to shoot Bishop, but he is himself killed. Poor Bishop is left crying, "Why did he have to break the truce? Why? Why?" -- conveniently forgetting that he himself just shot the German Lieutenant.


It's truly amazing what strong acting, evocative directing, and very tight editing can do for a thin and goofy plotline. This script is a half-bayonetter, but Director Bernard McEveety's deft touch saves the day. Like a skilled magician, the director distracts you from the idiocy of the dialogue and action with some striking mood pieces.

McEveety draws some fine performances from Rick Jason, Skip Homeier, and especially from Michael Constantine as French Resistance fighter Jacques. (Constantine may be best remembered as the friendly High School principal in ROOM 222). His underplaying of what could have been a heavy-handed, predictable speech is quite moving. "Do not talk to me of hating. I have seen too much to forgive. I have seen too many Frenchmen die. I have seen too many homes burned. I have seen too many friends tortured. I have stopped fighting this war for one minute. But I will never stop hating."

Of course, ten minutes later, when all the French girl has to do is hum prettily to her German lover to finally melt the hardened heart of this soldier, I felt cheated by being moved by his original emotion. I applaud the casting choice of Margaret O'Brien, an angelic child actress from the forties, as the hated French collaborator.

Though well performed, the emotion and sentiment of the Lieutenant Mauer character seems oddly out-of-place in the COMBAT! milieu. A professional soldier admiring a deserter who chooses his lover over his country? Is this somehow noble in a German officer? Would we have accepted this sentiment if Hanley was talking about an American deserter? COMBAT! usually deals with the big sacrifice, putting others before yourself. These two lovers seemed to think that the little problems of two people in this world amounted to much more than a hill of beans. Oh, where is Bogie when we need him?

Cast Credits

Rick Jason
as Lt. Hanley

Vic Morrow
as Sgt. Saunders
(NOTE: Morrow does not appear in episode)

Guest star
Skip Homeier
as Lt. Karl Mauer

Special Guests
Michael Constantine
as Jacques Patron
Margaret O'Brien
as Marianne Fraisnet

King Moody .....Toulon
Mark de Vries .....Pvt. Wexler
Michael Hausserman .....Johann Schiller
Barry Ford .....German Captain
Beau Vann den Ecker .....Emile
Tom Fielding as Pfc. Tommy Bishop

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File last updated June 28, 2012

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