I had only seen this episode once before, years ago, and I remembered it as being a sort of silly throw-away ep. Maybe I'm just getting sentimental in my old age, but this time around I found it both lighthearted and poignant by turns. There are some lovely comedic moments, but also a few spots that tug at the old heartstrings. And did I mention a couple of firefights just to spice things up?
Anyway, who else wants to be the little French kid that gets to have his hair ruffled by Saunders and Kirby, then gets a real salute from Saunders? That's the kind of cameo appearance I'd like! If I couldn't be cast as some cheery French wench absconding with Saunders' heart, of course.
(DA!)--Speaking of Saunders, which I admit I often do, isn't he looking rather tasty this morning? He's wearing that lovely dark shirt and it's open a bit at the collar, and even though he musses it up, his hair is behaving rather nicely.
Dear character actor John Dehner plays the old general with touching dignity, although I barely recognize him under that mustache! I've lost track of all the TV show episodes I've seen him in over the years -- he's one of those familiar faces that crops up when I least expect it and always puts in an enjoyable performance.
Okay, honestly, the best part of this whole ep is the scene where the General kisses Saunders, because those marvelous squinchy disgusted faces Vic Morrow makes are completely perfect! He looks like a little kid whose Aunt Bertha insists on kissing him even though he's complained and complained about the way her mustache tickles. He completes the performance by basically wiping off the kisses at the earliest possible opportunity. I wish they'd given Vic more chances to do subtle comedy like that, because I think he's quite hilarious!
(DA!)--Isn't Sarge's tipped-forward helmet just completely adorable? I'm tellin' ya, he needed more little comedic moments like that. Not that he didn't have several during the series, but so often (particularly in the later seasons) he's just all serious, not playful at all.
Littlejohn gives the General the biggest, friendliest grin, doesn't he? He looks as if he's enjoying the situation immensely, but it's not a mocking smile, just very friendly.
Hey, there's some eye candy for the male viewers here too -- Denise Alexander playing another cute French wench with totally 60s hair.
More great Vic Morrow humor -- what a funny little groan he gives after he agrees to go see the General... and then he slaps himself on the helmet to remind himself what a dolt he is -- I love it! Plus, then we have the great moment when Saunders takes a swig of the local brandy and it proves to be very strong after all. The choke-y voice he uses after drinking is just perfect.
(DA!)--Have I mentioned what lovely clean hair Saunders has today? It's behaving very well while he's in the General's château, although I suspect this means he's been dumping water on his head when I'm not looking. Tsk, tsk, tsk.
(DA!)--I say, Saunders should yell, "Ten-HUT!" more often! He sounds very yummy when he yells things, have you noticed that?
Why, look! It's Lt. Hanley in his trusty jeep! And he has a great couple of comic moments of his own, teasing Saunders with that line about how he "heard all about the noble, wonderful, kind American sergeant, Saunders." Saunders gets all embarrassed and fidgety, and Hanley enjoys the moment to the fullest. I wish those little friendship scenes between them didn't keep getting rarer and rarer as the series progresses, because they're loads of fun.
Isn't it handy to be an officer with a jeep to roar off in whenever a situation gets a bit sticky? Once Hanley finds out just what kind of a brick wall Saunders is dealing with, he's outta there. Stinker.
It's a very slender line John Dehner has to walk in this ep, keeping us sympathetic while letting us be amused by his insistent self-importance. I think he pulls it off pretty well, only dipping into the maudlin realm a little during the chat with his wife's grave. But graveside chats are pretty hard to pull off, so I give him props for doing as well as he does.
At last, some Krauts! Not that Kraut-less eps are bad -- some of them are doggoned swell. But this one needed a little spicing up right about now. And hey, aren't halftracks cool?
When the General knowingly plays up the pitiful old fool image and sings for his supper to distract the Krauts, I can't help feeling oh-so-sad for him, but proud too. He has the courage to set aside his considerable pride to strike a sneaky blow against his enemies. I do want to slap all the dumb Germans, them and their stupid laughing comments about him being forgetful. Grr.
Littlejohn gives the General a very interesting look a little later, a sort of amused understanding. I think he too knows what it's like to be mocked and taunted, and thus has much more sympathy for the General than does Kirby or even Billy.
Aha! I knew we brought along a couple of ENGs for a reason! Gotta put someone in the line of fire, after all.
(DA!)--Oooh, Kirby and Doc have those nice dark shirts on too, and they have to take off their jackets to cover up the wounded ENG. Very studly, guys, very studly.
(DA!)--Oh. My. Giddy. Aunt. Saunders is leeeeeeaning against the wall by the window, his coat off so you can revel in the sight of his lovely slouchy shoulders, and to add to the joy, his pistol is dragging his belt down all crooked and making him look all cowboy-ish! Now that's what I call beautiful scenery!
Hooray for Littlejohn's ultra-enthusiastic stomping! He not only finds the tunnel, he falls straight into it in a rather scary, abrupt way. Wonder if Dick Peabody did that stunt himself? I didn't take the time to watch it that closely....
The scene in the tunnel is lusciously lit, all dim with light only around the edges.
Our take-over of the Kraut OP is disappointingly quick and easy. All of a sudden the shooting is over and everything is hunky-dory. Oh well, fun episode anyway. And I love that Hanley and a remnant of his platoon march past the General at the end -- but I bet it was Saunders' idea. He was so very simpatico with the General all through the ep, making me love him even more (and you thought that was impossible, didn't you?).