Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
(103) Finest Hour
RATING: 3-1/2 bayonets
Written by Don Tait
Guest stars: Luise Rainer, Ramon Novarro
Directed by Sutton Roley
First aired 21-Dec-1965
Episode 15 of Season 4
(pictured: Luise Rainer
and Rick Jason)
Caje convinces a Frenchman to aid him and a desperately wounded Hanley. The Frenchman
takes them to a German-occupied Chateau, where the Countess (Luise Rainer) tends to his
wounds while keeping his presence a secret from the German soldiers garrisoned in her
home. The Countess saves Hanley's life, but Hanley refuses to leave her household in
peace, coercing the countess into spying for him. She discovers information that leads to
the destruction of her home and all her husband's dreams.
"Finest Hour," by Don Tait, is a vibrant story, capturing the essence of a
Combat! morality tale, of people sacrificing more than their lives for the greater good.
Count de Roy, played by veteran Hollywood actor Ramon Novarro, is a feeble, befuddled man,
but when tested, he rises to achieve his "Finest Hour," putting his life and his
heritage on the line.
Luise Rainer, a two-time Academy Award-winner for best actress, was coaxed out of
retirement for this episode. Novarro was a silent-screen star, the original "Ben
She performs with great power, dignity, and grace, though her style is at odds with the
regular cast. She acts with a style of the thirties in a sixties television show.
Rick Jason has an edge to his performance that adds spice, not just to this story, but
to his character.
ABOUT FILMING THE EPISODE:
Jack Hogan says of Luise Rainer, "She was into some kind of yoga. So, you'd be on
the set and look over in a corner, and she'd be in some sort of headstand with her skirt
over her head doing her yoga exercises to get ready for her scene."
Sutton Roley set up a tall shot of Rick Jason on the ledge of the chateau, but Rick
would not work from the height. "No, that's a stunt," he told Roley. "I
don't do stunts." The shot had to be re-staged to shoot Jason closer to the ground.
Neither Rainer nor Novarro had been in front of the cameras for years when they were
hired by Combat! These two motion picture greats had trouble with the
short shooting schedule of television and the fast-paced demands on television. Their
scenes required numerous re-takes, which was unusual on the Combat! set.
According to Rick Jason, both Rainer and Novarro had problems with many of the scenes.
But the problems of working with these actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood paid
off. The episode was much anticipated and widely watched, gaining one of the highest
ratings for the season.
Earlier in the season, Ramon Novarro appeared in the episode "Silver Service."
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
- The scene where the camera closes in on the Count's shaking hands holding the cane had
to be shot many times, since Novarro could not control the shaking enough to keep his
hands in the camera frame.
- There were also problems with getting Rainer's dialogue at the right place in the
climactic scene as she watches the chateau destroyed, with her husband in it. The
producers had to over-dub the dialogue in post-production.
- Ramon Novarro died In 1968, brutally beaten to death by a pair of teenage thieves.
Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders [does not appear]
Luise Rainer as Countess De Roy
Also Guest Starring
Ramon Novarro as Count De Roy
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
James Dobson as Lt. Schaefer
John Mylong as General Kroehler
Lou Robb as Capt. Roswald
Karl Sadler as German #1
Norbert Meisel as German #2
Larry Gelbman as Sentry
Kurt Kreuger as Major Werner
Maurice Marsac as Claude