Poor Saunders. As he gazes around the ruined village and says, "Yeah, long live the Americans," his weariness is almost palpable. The village is a shambles and so is he. He's tired, he's cranky, and he's getting pretty bitter about this whole war thing. He won't even look at Hanley when the lieutenant lets him know his squad can knock off for a while. I find that scene particularly poignant -- as usual, it's what those two don't say that tells you the most about them. Hanley's a bit surprised by the rebuff at first, but he knows what Saunders has been through, and he just accepts that the sergeant needs some space.
(DA!)--And now for something completely different: shirtless Kirby! Zowie!
Saunders definitely needs a hug in this episode. Maybe two. That's probably why I like it, dontcha think? He's yelling at Caje, he's glaring at the girl, his shoulders are slumping with exhaustion... he's closed himself down like a wounded animal looking for somewhere to hide and recover. Poor Saunders.
(DA!)--After the opening credits, we get a full fifteen seconds of one long shot of Saunders walking. He's scruffy, he's slumpy, and I'm totally rewinding that scene at least twice.
But, man! Is he scary when he loses his temper, or what? I would not want to be on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing when he's in this mood.
(DA!)--Bernard McEveety knows what I like! Now we've got nothing but Saunders walking around, leeeaning against trees, flopping on the grass... the only thing that could make this fan happier would be if Saunders up and jumped in that creek!
How did Claudine know about Saunders' penchant for cheese?
Honestly, what I like best about this episode is not the crankiness of Saunders, or the plethora of schlumping shots. It's seeing Saunders behave like an older brother. He treats Claudine the way I imagine he treated his sister Louise -- he humors her by letting her bandage his cheek, he gets all playful, he teases her with flowers. She's probably about the same age as Louise, and I think that's what makes her such good medicine for him. For a little while, he doesn't have to be a sergeant anymore, he can just be a guy pushing his kid sister on a carousel. And that's exactly the kind of respite he needed.
Speaking of respites, don't you love that look Hanley has when Saunders says he's rested? It's sort of appraising, like he's saying, "Oh, reeeeeeally?" in his head. But he can see that Saunders really does look better, so he just tells him to take care of himself. To which Saunders replies, "Always," with the greatest little grin. One of my favorite responses, and I wouldn't mind using it myself sometime.
When Saunders arrives at the scene of Kirby's wounding, Caje feels the need to say, "It's Kirby, Sarge." Um, can't Saunders see that for himself? And why hadn't anyone missed Kirby before this? Caje was supposed to count noses, wasn't he? Did he just count his own twice or something?
(DA!)--Not that I mind, cuz here's shirtless Kirby again! Oooh la la, what lovely arms he has!
(DA!)--Whatever you do, do not miss the shot of the squad coming around the corner, looking all warlike and manly. Mmm. Worth an extra viewing or two.
What is it with French kids tagging along behind us, without us ever noticing they're there? Can Krauts sneak up behind us that easily too?
Today's ENG, Henderson, looks very serious about his big chance to use the Magic Call Signs on the radio. It's like he's thinking, "Oh boy! I get to say this for real! In a real episode, not just me out playing in the vacant lot with my buddies! Keen!"
Saunders naturally inspires loyalty, doesn't he. Even after he's yelled at Claudine to go away, she's still all, "He gave me this flower! He needs my help -- I must find him! He didn't really mean those angry words."
Claudine's face when she sees the dead Kraut is pretty expressive. She looks like she's fighting the urge to vomit. I'm not a huge fan of Sylviane Margollé's acting over all, but this part is really good.
What's so dangerous about her giving morphine to Saunders? Or did Doc just mean it was too dangerous for her to go back? Because it comes in prepackaged amounts, doesn't it?
Dude, our ENG made it through the whole episode alive!
And now we come to the much-discussed performance by Vic Morrow when he finds out Claudine is dead. I've heard quite a few people accuse him of overacting here, but I've gotta say I don't agree. I think what he's conveying here is the fact that all of Saunders' previous emotional wounds, which had started healing because of Claudine's friendship, are splitting wide open again. It reminds me of the ending of the movie X-Men, where Wolverine's wounds unheal because he's giving Rogue his healing powers. If you watch the scene with that in mind, it doesn't look like overacting at all, I don't think. In fact, I'd say he regains his composure quite quickly. This is his pseudo-sister lying here, and as far as I'm concerned, the performance is warranted. So there.
I especially love that Saunders clasps a flower in her hand like she did for him when he was wounded. And that no one says a single word after Doc delivers his diagnosis. They let him grieve in companionable peace.