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



Season 4
COMBAT! episodes:

[Season 2 (1963 - 1964)]
[Bridge at Chalons]
[The Long Way Home]
[A Distant Drum]
[Infant of Prague]
[The Wounded Don't Cry]
[The Little Jewel]
[Glow Against the Sky]
[The Party]
[Anatomy of a Patrol]
[What Are the Bugles...]
[Thunder from the Hill]
[The Pillbox]
[Gideon's Army]
[General and the Sergeant]
[The Hostages]
[A Silent Cry]
[Eyes of the Hunter]
[Mail Call]
[The Hunter]
[Weep No More]
[The Short Day of Pvt Putnam]
[The Glory Among Men]

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reviews by Jo DavidsmeyerEpisodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets


(051) The Pillbox


3 bayonets

Teleplay by Don Tait * Story by Ted Pettus
Directed by Vic Morrow
First aired 07-Jan-1964  * Episode 17 of Season 2


Pausing to help a wounded G.I. from L Company, Hanley is separated from his retreating troops. Caught behind the German offensive, Hanley and the wounded soldier (Stark) take refuge in an abandoned pillbox. Hanley, after unwillingly capturing three Germans, is wounded and unable to control his prisoners. Partially crippled, the captor Hanley is as trapped as his prisoners. Stark must have get medical care, but the only way Hanley can get that help, is to leave behind three murdered prisoners.


Vic Morrow's first directing project for Combat! was a solo acting effort for Hanley, "The Pillbox." Morrow did an excellent job directing this taught morality play. He shows the influence of Altman's directing style and tips his hat to the classic war film All Quiet on the Western Front. He also shows an interesting personal directing style just developing.

He uses little background music inside the pillbox. Leonard Rosenman's themes merely lead in and out of commercials. Instead of music, Morrow relies on natural sounds to create the background: thunder, rain, trucks, and labored breathing, something he owes to Altman's style.

". . . I loved working with Vic as a director. He was so considerate of his fellow actors. Always knew what he wanted from you and how to get it." says Rick Jason

Rick Jason is superb in "The Pillbox" playing the multi-layered dilemmas tearing Hanley apart. Warren Oates (as Stark) is outstanding as a soldier wanting to live at any cost. Director Morrow weaves a bond between Hanley and Stark that is both tender and grueling. Albert Paulsen, as the opportunistic Dorfmann, makes his third appearance on Combat! in two years. In his first appearance in "Forgotten Front," he also played a prisoner (named Dorfmann), whose fate Saunders had to decide.

By following the book and taking charge early in the episode, Hanley boxes himself into a corner (both literally and figuratively). He creates the moral quagmire and finds no satisfactory solution. Unlike Saunders in "Forgotten Front," Hanley makes no decision. He waits. A well-timed artillery barrage eventually takes the choice out of Hanley's hands.


Combat! often goes to extremes to deprive the lead actor of weapons, but this is the most extreme: a tank to take out one carbine.

Stark's wife was born on Valentine's Day, just like Vic Morrow.

Lovely shot of Hanley flinging rain cape over the camera. Vic wanted that particular shot to give a black screen for a cut.


Rick Jason remembers: "I have to pick up Albert Paulsen and open up this big, heavy door, and walk away with him. That was the closing shot of the show, walking into the distance carrying this guy who weighs about 190 pounds. As I walk away from the camera, I'm mumbling 'You heavy son-of-a-bitch ...' It's the only thing that gave me the strength not to drop him in the middle of the shot."


Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders

Jack Hogan as Kirby
Conlan Carter as Doc

Henry Horman as Meisner
Glen Cannon as Runner
Paul Busch as German Lieutenant
Ray Baxter as German Trucker #1
Ed Deemer as German Trucker #2
Joseph Turkel as Klimmer

Guest stars
Warren Oates as Stark
Albert Paulsen as Dorfmann

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File last updated June 28, 2012

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