Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
(087) The Steeple
Written by Don Tait
Directed by John Peyser
First aired 09-Feb-1965
Episode 21 of Season 3
fan comments about this Episode - add your own!
Saunders, Caje, and Kirby try to
rescue a paratrooper captain before he is spotted by the Germans. The captain dangles from
a church steeple, his chute caught on the spire. With the aid of the town priest, Saunders
pulls the captain off the spire right before the eyes of the Germans below.
This episode has many
so flaws in the action and the plot that it should be laughable, but, somehow it all
works. A guilty pleasure, I enjoy this story more with each viewing, even as I notice more
"The Steeple" has Saunders to the rescue once again, trying to save an
injured paratrooper hanging from a steeple in a German-occupied town. Saunders does all
the cliche hero-things that fans have come to expect, and he does them brilliantly. Yes,
another patented "let's berate the superior officer for his own good to knock him
back into his senses" speech, plus the usual "let's put on a German uniform and
fool the bad guys" scenario, and another German with bad footwear that makes him come
to a bad end. Somehow it fits together and entertains.
The plot seems inspired by the famous incident of the paratrooper at St. Mere
Eglise. On D-Day, the parachute of an American paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne
caught on the Steeple of the church at St. Mere Eglise, stranding him there for several
hours during the early stage of the invasion. He hung there feigning death while his
fellow soldiers landed and attempted to take the town. In memory of the events of these
days, the town keeps a mannequin attached to a parachute that is draped over the steeple.
This incident is covered in the film "The Longest Day" with the paratrooper
played by Red Buttons.
For list of books about WWII Paratroopers
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
· Saunders has remarkably good hearing. From thirty feet
above, he hears quiet conversations on the ground.
· ]In the belfry as the church
bells peel, Kirby and Caje cover both ears to protect their hearing. Saunders only covers
one, to no ill effect.
· Immediately after being
deafened by church bells, Caje hears the whispered voice of the priest on the ground
· Why doesn't the bell ring
when four soldiers climb down the bell rope?
· Again, the plot features
one-size-fits-all German uniforms. When Saunders puts on the German uniform jacket after
knifing the German, the jacket has no hole or blood, and neither is there any sign of a
wound on the dead German.
· Saunders leaves his camo
helmet behind in the belfry but has it back again in the next scene.
· Jean del Val, who plays the
priest, appeared in "Birthday Cake"
and "The Mockingbird."
ABOUT FILMING THE EPISODE:
Pierre Jalbert was impressed with the
technical skills of regular Combat! director John Peyser." As he shoots [an] episode,
he was cutting it in the camera. Directors who don't know what they're doing, they roll a
lot of film and let the editor put it together. It's like reconstructing a house. But
Peyser, he knew the business backwards and sideways. So we'd come in the morning, do ten
pages doesn't matter if it's tanks, explosions and we'd go home at 3:00. He
wouldn't watch as we rolled. He didn't have to. He'd play frisbee."
Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders
Lt. Hanley as Rick Jason [does not appear]
Jack Hogan as Kirby
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Robert Cornthwaite as Captain Priller
Jean del Val as Father Bomar
Steve Landers as Hans
Horst Ebersberg as Sgt. Dekker
Patrick Michenaud as Boy
David Sheiner as Captain Ridell