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

(038) A Distant Drum

1 bayonet

Written by Kay Lenard and Jess Carneol
Directed by John Peyser
Produced by Gene Levitt
First aired 19-Nov-1963 (Episode 10 of Season 2)


In "A Distant Drum" a wounded Hanley, separated from his platoon, forces a reluctant French woman to give him aid. In the tradition of hurt/comfort stories, Hanley suffers, bleeds, drags himself through the underbrush, plays dead, fords streams, and passes out at appropriate moments, until a beautiful woman arrives to remove his clothes, bind his wounds, and offer supportive backrubs. In return, Hanley saves her daughter from an attempted rape, bestows mother and daughter with a kiss, and then exits in the night with a dead German across his shoulder.


* Though Lt. Hanley is my favorite character, "A Distant Drum" is not among my favorite Combat! episodes. The writing team of Kay Lenard and Jess Carneol wrote this, their second script for Combat! (the first being the brilliant "One More For The Road"). This writing team had a good grasp of Saunders' character, but had no notion what to do with Hanley (though getting his shirt off was a step in the right direction, as far as his female fans are concerned). The plot is thin, with far too much time spent watching Hanley in distress.

Sasha Hardin, with recently dyed blond hair, plays Keppler, a German scavenger who regularly steals from the dead, the living, and seems to rape young women with the knowledge and consent of his squad leader. His sergeant seems bothered by Hardin's actions, but puts up with it. Keppler, and how he interacts with his squad, is unbelievable.

Why is Sasha Hardin's beautiful black hair bleached in this episode? With lush black hair framing blue eyes, Hardin was menacing as the Gestapo colonel in "Escape To Nowhere" and the Lieutenant in "Odyssey." As a short-haired blond, he looks like a geek.

French-born actress, Denise Darcel is wonderful as the frightened French mother who is forced to aid Hanley. Without a word of English, she expresses her passion and her fears. She is a woman torn, desperately wanting to do the right thing for this man and the right thing for her daughter. But to offer safety to the one, puts the other in danger. Her scene alone with Hanley, after bandaging his wounds, is touching and poignant. She gives comfort to this wounded man, despite her misgivings, and finds herself drawn to the helpless soldier that fate brought to her door. Her actions, her looks, and her touch are simultaneously maternal and sensual. Darcel played Denise in Robert Pirosh's Battleground.

The conclusion to this episode is rushed and unnecessary. Caje, Kirby, and Saunders race through the dialogue. The tight shot, as they all gather into the frame above Hanley's stretcher, looks hokey. And I would have thought Hanley knew better than to tell Kirby where he can find a farmhouse with two lonely, defenseless Frenchwomen in it.


  • Why is Hanley on a stretcher in the last scene? Prior to this he walked miles and carried a dead German. Next, he is flat on his back on a stretcher, unable to sit up when his squad arrives.
  • Hanley accessories: He is without the gold ring he usually wears, which the scavenger would have pinched. Hanley conveniently is wearing no undershirt.
  • An early ground-level shot of a wounded Hanley shows the movement of the camera through the grass.
  • American-born Holly McIntyre spoke flawless French in the episode, without an accent, according to Denise Darcel. Holly is the daughter of Jeanette Nolan, who plays Sister Terese in the episode "Infant of Prague."
  • The credits incorrectly list Bill Harlow as playing Corp. McGill. He plays Davis.
  • The title of the episode is a quote from the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.


Rick Jason as Lt. Hanley

Vic Morrow as Sgt. Saunders

Guest star Denise Darcel as Annette

Jack Hogan as Kirby
Pierre Jalbert as Caje

Sasha Hardin as Keppler
Charles DeVries as Buehler
Ed Knight German as Sergeant
Ray Baxter German as Soldier
Bill Harlow as Corp. McGill

and introducing
Holly McIntire as Louise

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File last updated June 28, 2012

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