Combat! reviews by Jo Davidsmeyer
Episodes rated from 0 to 4 bayonets
Written by Esther and Bob Mitchell
Directed by Georg Fenady
First aired 29-Nov-1966
(Episode 11 of Season 5
Exhaustion and lack of sleep cause a breakdown of morale in Saunders'
squad. After two days of continuous patrol in bad weather, Caje and Littlejohn are at each
other's throats. Saunders looks scared as he follows his squad out into the rain. For
once, he is unsure of the core group of men he has always counted on. The animosity
between Caje and Littlejohn threatens to get everyone killed. But when Saunders and McCall
are wounded, the squabbling duo comes through.
This gritty story presents the members of the squad at their worst and
their best and, therefore, at their most human. In "Conflict," the
unending rain is as oppressive as the squad's humor. These conditions and privations
effect the closest of comrades-in-arms and the audience watches helplessly as characters
they have come to love begin to tear each other apart. For the first time in the series,
the greatest danger to the squad's survival is the squad itself.
Kirby's absence from the episode works well. The audience expects conflict from Kirby.
But trouble coming from the gentle Littlejohn and easy-going Caje is jarring. Pierre
Jalbert is particularly frightening when he lets Caje lose his temper; in the dark,
brooding shots, he looks positively satanic.
Bryant as McCall
The scene as written between Saunders and McCall is weak. McCall asks questions when he
and Saunders scope out the farmhouse, great dialogue such as "Sure looks quiet,"
"What do you think?" and "How much further, Sarge?" Such dialogue
would have been excised in earlier seasons. The better written Combat! scripts
don't require supporting actors to ask stupid questions.
Stunt coordinator Earl Parker is the German smoking a cigarette in the corner of the
farmhouse. He later dies rolling down a tree log managing to lose his helmet to
reveal his blond hair. He is killed again later when a grenade explodes in his face.
NOTES, ODDITIES, AND BLOOPERS:
- During the final firefight, after McCall has left and Saunders is alone behind the tree
trunk, the tip of a B.A.R. is in the corner of the picture.
- Opening sequence is "colorized" war footage. Even the lightening is reused
from "Second in Command" and colorized.
- Almost all the episode was filmed on the green set at CBS.
- At MGM, the walls were really falling apart. At CBS, they had to paint the walls to look
that way. Very apparent as "painted" decay in the final scenes when Littlejohn
leans against the two-color textured cracks in wall and in back of Saunders and McCall in
- Only seven Germans are at the farmhouse, but the squad kills eighteen and takes one
prisoner. Germans killed in this episode: 25. Americans: none.
[does not appear]
Conlan Carter as Doc
Dick Peabody as Littlejohn
Pierre Jalbert as Caje
Karl Sadler as Machine Gunner
Tom Pace as German Corporal
Bill Harlow as G.I. Sergeant
Horst Ebersberg as 2nd Sentry
Gerd Rein as 1st Sentry
Buddy Pantsari as G.I. Medic
William Bryant as McCall