seasons of "Combat!" featured exterior photography shot at Franklin Canyon.
"Fifth season we practically lived there," says producer/director George J.
Fenady. "They're still picking up cartridges." Located above Beverly Hills,
Franklin Canyon is located in a low mountain chain that separates west Los Angeles from
the San Fernando valley. The area is municipally owned and readily available to film
crews. Television and movie crews have filmed Franklin Canyon scenery for more than half a
century. Andy Griffith and little Ronnie Howard walked her shores in the opening of the
"Andy Griffith Show" and Captain Kirk ran through the same woods where Saunders
Franklin Canyon has two reservoirs: a small one about 300 yards across on the north end
of the canyon, and a larger one a half mile south and 200 feet downhill from the small
reservoir. A spillway from the upper reservoir flows into the lower reservoir. Culverts,
which make perfect cover during a firefight, lace the grounds on the hills between the
reservoirs. The reservoir area offers a variety of terrain and roads. The city permit to
shoot at Franklin cost "Combat!" producers $150 per day in the sixties.
"We'd blow it up pretty good," remembers George Fenady, "But we always
left it the way we found it. The worst you would do, we'd build our own sets and blow them
up. As I said, you leave it the way you found it. The only thing is, we would make craters
for bombed out areas and then bulldoze them back the way we found it."
Conlan Carter remembers the Franklin Canyon shooting as inconvenient. "You had to
leave early and usually get home late. We didn't have showers in the dressing rooms out
there, so you'd come home dirty. But you just did it, you didn't think about it."
George Fenady said that back in the sixties, "They were talking about filling in
at least one reservoir and doing all kind of things. They put a scare into us. That was 30
years ago and still nothing's changed."
Franklin Canyon Today (written in the year 2001)
Today the upper reservoir is a nature preserve and no longer available for filming.
However, it is open to the public, so today's "Combat!" fans can walk the same
roads and crawl through the same culverts where the Squad fought decades ago.
The lower canyon is still available for filming and continues to be a favorite film
location for producers.
Thank you to Marty Black and Dion Osika for sharing pictures of their reconnaissance of
Culvert used during the firefight in the episode "The Losers," where Saunders
flanks the Germans and climbs out of the culvert to get the Germans by the Kubelwagen.
Note: the old post that is painted the black-and-white is the original post seen in the
episode. The rail attached to it is more recent.
From "The Losers," this tree is in scenes with Billy Gray where the 'cowardly
soldier' freezes while crawling through the brush. Tree is in the background behind Gray
during the firefight and immediately afterward. Combat! fan Marty Black poses by the tree.
From "The Furlough" where the sniper kills Paul Picerni. Saunders shoots the
sniper out of the tree and the sniper falls to an air bag then rolls face first down
hillside. The tree is now dead and only fifteen feet remains on the hillside.
From "Nightmare on the Red Ball Run," this road in the park winds with two S
turns. Concrete wall is on left and hillside to right.
From "Nightmare on the Red Ball Run," main road in foreground
and a side road is just behind last green bush on the left that has a utility pole
emerging from it. You can follow the road remnants along the hillside today -- it is a
walking trail due to hillside erosion. A new fire road cuts across the top third of the
picture. Compare it to the pole and side road as seen in the episode (picture below).
"Nightmare on the Red Ball Run" Fence is built with two rails -- top is cut
at 45-degree angle, bottom is flush. This fence is located on the fire road west of
Road filmed in "Nightmare on the Red Ball Run" On the left is the west fire
trail, right is the main road into the park from Mulholland Drive.
Marty Black posing in a location used for filming of "Run, Sheep,
Run." This was shot in the opening firefight. Watch for scenes with Vic to left of
frame behind tree. This tree is the same one in the title shot below, but then they had
water in the scene.
Scene at the end of "The Brothers." The barn was by the dirt mound to the
right of center in the photo. At the end of the episode, Ricardo Montalban carries the
body of Sal Mineo down the trail toward the hillside with the tall trees. Compare it to
the scene from the episode shown below.
The aid station from "The Letter," where Doc and the other medics tend the
Seen in "The Letter" where Saunders leaves the aid station
pond area with the squad. Note the outhouse to the left and the roadside barriers at the
far end -- you can see these also in the clip from the show (shown below).
From "The Letter," the firefight by the truck where Saunders
orders Caje and Kirby to cover on one flank. They deploy behind the large water pipe ...
and (in our picture today) so does Combat! fan Marty Black!
One of the world-famous culverts used frequently in firefights in
"Combat!" The picture below shows Saunders as he crawls through the culvert and
ducks under a pipe as he tries to flank a German truck in the episode "The
Letter." In the picture at right, fan Marty Black retraces Saunders steps. The same
pipe is still there today!