Let me say right up front that this is one of my favorite episodes, and has been since the first time I saw it, more than half my lifetime ago. I love escaping-prisoner stories, and I love good guys outwitting bad guys. And I love Saunders. You see the appeal. I will warn you right now that this is going to be chock full of (DA!) comments, because Saunders looks 100% fabulous in the whole ep, and you know I'm gonna appreciate him 100%.
I'm just sayin'.
Is it just me, or does this Kraut captain look a lot like Henry Fonda?
(DA!) Oh, oh, oh! Saunders is ever so scruffy and stubborn and delectable, isn't he? With his eyes all full of attitude, like he wants to tell this Kraut, "Buddy, after Captain Steiner, you don't scare me at all."
(DA!) And things just keep getting yummier -- once we're outside, we see that Saunders' shirt is barely buttoned at all! Keep that swooning couch nearby, 'cause you're gonna need it.
Thanks to this episode, I've never managed to trust Claude Akins in anything else. I don't care if he's playing the most sincere, honest, truthful character imaginable -- I'm always convinced he's up to something.
Why was Saunders in a Jeep with a major? I scent a fanfic story idea…
(DA!) Meeeeow, check out how loungy and relaxed-yet-edgy Saunders is today! First he leans on a wall, then he props one foot up on a crate, then he perches on a table… it's a tour-de-force of drool-inducing postures!
Saunders seems to just naturally dislike "Mastin." Is it because he's too gabby? I don't know, but our own dear sergeant sure is giving him the stink-eye right from the start.
(DA!) And then we're treated to Saunders standing with one foot on a cot, leaning waaaay over to glare out a window? Somebody turn on the ceiling fan, will you?
I forgot how soon into this ep Saunders finds out "Mastin" is a fake. Nice way to up the suspense.
(DA!) We fade out on one of my favorite shots of Saunders ever. Ever ever ever ever. Ohhhh, the menace in those eyes sends shivers up my spine every time. Good shivers, and yet… wouldn't want him to direct that expression at me.
How come the two Kraut guards on the truck with us are letting the prisoners talk? Usually that's strictly verboten, isn't it? Yet here we are, gabbing away, and they're not even frowning at us. Hmm, maybe Saunders' Magnificent Glare has scared them a bit?
(DA!) (I did warn you this would be a most droolful ep.) Some very nice pell-pell running once we escape the truck. Especially enjoyable whenever the camera stands still so we can fully appreciate their flight.
I love how, when Cpl. Coker says, "Hey, Sarge, good luck," Saunders just says, "Yeah." He's so noncommittal and nonchalant, it makes me laugh just a tiny bit.
(DA!) And now we have only Saunders running around, looking all determined and tasty. Thank you, whoever decided he should not button his shirt today!
When Saunders returns to Stalag 9, I love his entrance, or rather, his lack of one. He just stands there, hands in his pockets, insolence personified. Like a juvenile delinquent who's landed in detention again, nothing more serious than that. Great body language from Vic Morrow there.
(DA!) And man, that evil sideways glare he gives "Mastin" after feeding him the false info? Swoon and swoon again!
I completely adore how Saunders casually blocks the doorway while verbally sparring with "Mastin." And then proceeds to beat the snot out of a guy who's considerably bigger than he is. I'm telling you, folks, do not mess with Saunders!
I always grin at the little detail of them smashing a plate of stew onto "Mastin" when they stage his death. Like the barrage made the plate leap off the table and attack him or something.
But hey, haven't we blown up that bridge a time or two ourselves? Oh well, let's blow it up again, a rousing explosion is always a welcome way to end an episode.