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



Season 4
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]

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reviews by Jo DavidsmeyerEpisodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets

(024) Night Patrol

Rating: 1/2 bayonet

Teleplay by Frank Jessee
Story by Quentin Sparr
Directed by Burt Kennedy
Produced by Burt Kennedy

First aired March 5, 1963
Season 1, Episode 22
Syndication Order: 24


 Burt Kennedy's directorial farewell to Combat! was "Night Patrol," a confused story about a mysterious lieutenant the squad encounters while out on night patrol. It's a tale of fear and suspicion, of dark secrets hidden and revealed in the confines of a cavern. This story is stylized, moody, and mysterious -- none of which is handled particularly well in director Burt Kennedy's last Combat! episode.

The plot suffers badly from multiple personality. It can't quite decide what it wants to be from scene to scene. In the end, I'm not sure of the point, or really who the character Billy Joe was or why we should care. Perhaps the poor plot had too many writers mangling it: the story is by Quentin Sparr, the teleplay by Frank Jesse, and with so many Kennedy story touches, I'm assuming Kennedy had the red pen out quite a bit on this script. Kennedy's strength is character development, but the "character-oriented" scenes seem out of place in this quasi-ghost story. The banter between Billy and Littlejohn is adorable (and unnecessary); as usual, I like the Kirby presented by Kennedy, but the goofy line about Kirby not knowing what time 0-700 hours was, was just a cheap shot at humor.

The story begins well, with cross-cut scenes of both a German platoon and Hanley's platoon preparing for a night patrol. The usual Kennedy banter works well here. The final scene is also effective; it starts with Saunders giving his less-than-truthful report to Hanley and ends with a beautiful dolly shot of Hanley on the phone reading the names off dog tags. But in the middle, once Skip Homeier appears as the mysterious lieutenant, the story's pretty hopeless.

The interior sets for the cave are magnificent. The scenes are beautifully lit, with light dancing off the water painting wavering, ghostly images on the damp walls. But I do feel obliged to ask the question: where did the light come from in this underground cavern?

Skip Homeier (a Trek alumnus) appears later in Combat in better episodes: "The Impostor" and "Entombed" where Homeier also plays a character trapped in a cave.

Notes, Oddities, and Bloopers

  • Kirby with that M1 again. At this point in season 1, the BAR is not yet his full-time weapon.
  • Kudos for avoiding the standard Hollywood cliche... actors in distress actually enter a cave that DOESN'T cave in
  • As the actors rush into the cave, they bump against the stone wall and it moves.
  • Recurring squad members: Baker and Brockmeyer are mentioned by name, but they do not appear in this episode, though Davis has a minor scene with Hanley. Davis appears often in season 1 and occasionally in season 2.

Cast Credits

Vic Morrow
as Sgt. Saunders

Rick Jason
as Lt. Hanley

Skip Homeier as Billy Joe

Jack Hogan as Kirby
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Tom Lowell as Billy Nelson
Bill Harlow as Davis

[Note: uncredited appearance by Eric Braeden (aka Hans Gudegast)

Dialog Excerpts

KIRBY: What's all this creep and crawl, Sarge? Now why don't we just go out there and grab ourselves a Kraut?

KIRBY: It's gonna be cold out there, Sarge. I thought --

SAUNDERS: Trouble with you Kirby is you don't think at all.

SAUNDERS: Now, for the last time, does everybody know what this is all about?

BILLY: You mean the war, Sarge?

LITTLEJOHN: He doesn't mean the war.

SAUNDERS: I like a squad with a sense of humor. I hope yours lasts through the night.

KIRBY: If the army expects me to crawl around these dirty, damp caves, the least they can do is turn their back if I want to use a little alcohol for medicinal purposes. A fellow could catch his death of cold in a place like this.

KIRBY: Hey, what time is it?

SAUNDERS: Oh-seven-hundred.

KIRBY: What time's that?

HANLEY: I'll see you in the cemetery.

BILLY JOE: You know you can get about five years in the stockade for going against an officer.

DAVIS: I'll bet I know what's holding up the sergeant. That little drip Nelson probably got lost. He's gonna cost us the war.

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Hollywood Trail Boss:
Behind the Scenes of the Wild, Wild Western
by Burt Kennedy

At RECON '98 (the Combat! cast reunion) we were fortunate to have Combat! director Burt Kennedy as a guest. He shared great anecdotes of the series and of Hollywood. Read in this book his experiences as a director in the heyday of the Hollywood western. The book is as charming and fascinating as the man himself, and gives insight into the man who defined the character of Sgt. Saunders. Order Hollywood Trail Boss

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