Tuesday, August 24, 2021

See Lee Marvin, at the Height of His Powers, as Guest Star on the Greatest Dramatic Series in TV History: Combat!, S.2, Ep.1: “The Bridge at Chalons” (1963)

Re-posted by Nicholas Stix

I’ve only seen this episode once, about six years ago, with my chief of research. I had bought the entire DVD collection of Combat!’s 152 episodes, with notes by Jo Davidsmeyer.

While I only saw about 30 episodes, from all five years, my CoR and The Boss watched every episode at least once.

Many WWII combat veterans who otherwise refused to watch war stories, like David in TN’s late dad, made an exception for Combat!, saying “This is the way it was.”

The scripts, the guest stars, the direction, the regulars.

In this episode, Lee Marvin plays Sgt. Turk, an arrogant munitions expert that Saunders has to accompany on a mission to blow up a bridge. At one point, early on, Turk smugly intones to Saunders that the latter is a mother hen, looking after her chicks.

But Saunders does something to Turk.

One of the toughest things for an actor is to credibly embody the redemption of a character. I’ve only seen this a few times. The Bum pulled it off, in Elia Kazan and Budd Schulberg’s On the Waterfront. Walter Brennan pulled it off in John Sturges and Millard Kaufman’s Bad Day at Black Rock (apparently, after Brennan won three Oscars in five years, an unwritten rule was instituted in Hollywood: No more Oscars for Walter!). And Billy Campbell did it in an episode of Marshall Herskovits and Edward Zwick’s Once and Again, circa 2000.

But there was nothing Lee Marvin couldn’t do at the time. At the beginning of his career, he squared off with The Bum in The Wild One (1953), and held his own.

Marvin won an undeserved Oscar in 1966, for Cat Ballou (1965), playing a parody of the sort of heavy that by then was his signature. That was Richard Burton’s Oscar for The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1965). If anything, Marvin deserved his statuette for his star turn as Hickey in Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh (1973).

Alas, Lee Marvin (1924-1987) destroyed himself with drink.


Episode written by Bob and Esther Mitchell, and directed by Ted Post, with Vic Morrow, Rick Jason, Lee Marvin, Jack Hogan, Pierre Jalbert, Tom Lowell, Dick Peabody, Conlan Carter, Lee Krieger, et al. (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0544561/). Original air date: 17 September 1963.

Combat!: Previously, at WEJB/NSU:

S.1 Ep.3: “Lost Sheep, Lost Shepherd” (1962); Jeffrey Hunter.

S. 1, Ep. 9: “Cat and Mouse” 1962; Albert Salmi.

S. 1, Ep. 11: “A Day in June” 1962.

S. 1, Ep. 16: “The Volunteer” (1963); Serge Prieur and Ted Knight.

S. 2, Ep. 4: “The Long Way Home”, Part 1 (1963); Richard Basehart, Woodrow Parfrey.

S. 2, Ep. 5: “The Long Way Home”, Part 2 (1963).

S. 2, Ep. 24: “The Hunter” (1964); Alfred Ryder; and

S. 4, Eps. 25 & 26: “Hills are for Heroes,” Parts I & II (1966).


Anonymous said...

"Eet was just a herr."

Old ABC show--you can tell by the graphics.


Anonymous said...

☆☆☆☆☆ stars out of 5.


Anonymous said...

Lee Marvin was a Marine during WW2 and saw combat action at Guam. His entire company of nearly 200 men nearly wiped out. He did know what combat was.