Ooooh! Actual archival war footage! This makes me feel like our squad is part of the Big Picture, not just a handful of merry men toiling away unaided. Nice way to open the only Combat! episode to deal with the very big issue of the Holocaust.
And we all pose so nicely for a big Group Photo before we enter the prison camp and start the story. Not sure why we do this, other than to visually announce who's gonna be in this ep.
As the squad enters the prison camp, everyone does very nice "puzzled" expressions, especially Kirby and Billy. And I believe that reaction of, "Huh? What's this place?" is pretty historically accurate -- I learned in my history classes in college that until the first encounter with a death camp, GIs had no idea such places existed. Of course, this camp we encounter is nothing compared to the horrors of places like Dachau, Buchenwald, and Auschwitz, but it's about as extreme as would be acceptable to 1960's TV audiences, I suppose.
Watch Vic Morrow when they burst into the barracks -- he says absolutely nothing for almost a minute (thirty seconds before the opening credits, twenty-odd seconds after). The hand covering his mouth and nose, the wideness of his eyes, says everything -- he doesn't need words to get the audience to feel the horror and revulsion. And when Saunders does try to call for Doc, but can't quite get his voice to work... man, this is just some powerful acting. I can't help but wonder what was going through Vic Morrow's head while filming this episode, since he was of Jewish ancestry himself. Sure, the script never actually identifies these Polish DPs as Jewish, but the music has a very Jewish flavor, reminiscent of the music used in Otto Preminger's film Exodus. Anyway, watching this ep makes me wish for the eight-billionth time that Vic Morrow was still alive, this time so I could ask him about his thoughts on this episode.
Conlon Carter is also wonderful at the beginning of this episode. His eyes alone communicate his concern and empathy to start with, and later his very real fear when Saunders has to pull him out from under the dogpile of starving prisoners.
This is a Clever Saunders episode almost right from the start. Watch him get all cagey when lighting a cigarette for himself and the former mayor, always flicking his eyes toward the crowd to watch for sign of trouble.
(DA!)--This is also a Hottie Saunders episode. He's got his jacket open, his dark shirt open, a little muscle shirt and chestness on display... and as soon as he removes his helmet, we see his hair is behaving nicely, a little messy but not silly-looking. Yum!
(DA!)--Doc's having a good day too, with very messy hair and an adorable bit of facial scruff. He kind of looks young and boyish, almost innocent at moments.
(DA!)--And doesn't Billy look edible while he's up in that tree? Plus, he just sounds thoroughly cute when he says, "Uh-oh!" In fact, it's so darned adorable, he gets to say it twice in this ep.
Hey, um, if there are Krauts just down the road, should Caje really be shouting the news across the compound?
Hee hee, when Saunders looks out the window into the compound, the shadow of the barbed wire gives him this funny little mustache and makes him look like a caricature of a Mexican bandido or something.
Good old Clever Saunders, scaring Buxman into giving us info by leaving him alone with the prisoners. Saunders carries off the ruse quite convincingly -- the first time I saw this ep, I really thought he was leaving the Kraut there.
(DA!)--Speaking of Feldwebel Buxman, isn't he one of our hotter adversaries? He's played by Richard Jaeckel, who is such a cutie with his nice hair and his open uniform-collar. Not all scary or glowery like most of our Kraut nemeses.
Okay, the prisoners are really creeeepy when they're crawling and hobbling toward Buxman. But I can't help being reminded of the end of Toy Story where all the mutilated toys start advancing on evil toy-torturer Sid.
At this point, Buxman screams like a girly-man and faints. But, you know, he's a pretty young Kraut, and the German people were fed all kinds of propaganda about Jews being evil monsters, so I feel it's pretty authentic for him to get that freaked out by them.
Poor Littlejohn gets stuck on Lugging Dead Dudes detail. I guess there are disadvantages to being big and strong after all.
Clever Saunders has a pretty good plan for fooling the Germans, he'd just better hope none of the Krauts have seen or read Beau Geste....
I love the scene with Doc reading the story of Gideon from his little pocket Bible, especially when he adds, "just like he said," in the middle of the story.
Hey, how come Caje is always looking into the compound when he's supposed to be up there keeping watch for Krauts? He's usually not such a lousy lookout. Come on, Caje, get with the program!
And again with the hollering across the compound when there are Krauts nearby! Shame on you, Saunders, you know better than that.
Um, and isn't Caje still up in his guard tower when the Kraut squad invades? Shouldn't he be able to just shoot down at them and kill them all? How come we have to have this huge fusillade from the barracks just to kill a few men? Sure, the prisoners might not be very good shots, since they're not trained soldiers, but our guys are usually better at point-blank shooting than that. Come to think of it, how come Caje didn't dispatch the first Kraut squad that attacked us? Hmm.
And why doesn't the suspicious Polish foreman/prisoner holler to let someone else know that Buxman is escaping? Sure, taking Buxman out himself helps clear his name, but surely he must have realized the consequences if he failed. And what happens to Buxman, anyway? One bonk on the head and he's dead? All of a sudden, the Krauts are pulling back, our trucks arrive, the music swells, and off we go. What a weirdly abrupt ending. And I don't like the final voice-over narration, it's hokey and overbearing. We already got the point of the episode, we don't need it reiterated. I really wish the last third of this episode was as good as the first two-thirds. Oh for a time-machine! A few words in the ear of the writer and this could be a first-rate ep....