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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode supposedly lost Robert Altman his job. Vic Morrow's performance is uncompromising and uninhibited. Young actors could learn volumes from watching this episode. Saunders shows what he's made of in this episode succinctly named "Survival". Hanley comes off looking a little callous though for leaving Saunders behind. Mr.Morrow shows us that heroes have their breaking points,and yet remain heroes nevertheless. Just watch Morrow/Saunders when he walks out of the burning barn. As explosions go off all around him he doesn't blink an eye. Check out "The Little Carousel" for another fine performance from Morrow. Or just get the whole series if you can. It's worth it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The squad is holed up in a French town, surrounded by German troops and
they're running out of ammunition. They have no choice but to
surrender. The Germans take their prisoners to a farmhouse where they
tie them up when suddenly an American attack shells the area and the
farmhouse is set on fire. Lt. Hadley escapes with Little John, Caje and
the rest of the squad, while Saunders is badly burned in the fire.
This is a terrific episode for Vic Morrow. While the other guys try to work their way back to American lines, steal food from the Germans and reacquire weapons, Saunders is maddened by pain. He stumbles around by dead reckoning, slipping into a fantasy world where he mistakes a dead German officer for his brother Joey.
Robert Altman does some of his best work here with an episode that is extremely well shot in gorgeous black and white.
Altman was an excellent television director, and this episode shows why he soon went on to feature films. By an equal measure it shows what a fine actor Vic Morrow was, and why Morrow is favored in the Altman-directed episodes. Those who are interested in seeing what fine dramatic television can be should check this out, even by today's expanded standards of what is allowed on television it's memorable and very well directed and acted. What a shame only three people have actually commented on it. If nothing else, watch it to get at least a vague inkling of what war does to people, and of the kind of bravery it takes to survive one. I'd also recommend any of the other episodes of Combat directed by Altman as well, particularly "I Swear by Apollo" and "The Prisoner."
I was a kid when Combat! was on first run. Liked most 10 or 12 year-old
boys, I liked war movies. Explosions and some machine gun fire did not
bother me a bit. Consequently, I generally watched Combat! every week.
All the episodes run together in my mind nowadays except for this one.
I distinctly remember this episode. I remember Sergeant Saunders with
his blackened burned hands trying to get back to Allied lines. If I
remember correctly (and I might not), I thought the episode was a
little bit exciting, and a little bit silly. I do recall that the next
week Sergeant Saunders' hands were healed and unmarked, which I thought
was pretty incredible. Then again, he was Sergeant Saunders.
I always have thought that Vic Morrow was an underrated actor of that era. I've had a similar opinion of David Janssen. On the other hand, maybe I just liked their respective TV series.
When Lt. Hanley and Sgt. Saunders' squad runs out ammunition, the
survivors are forced to surrender to the German soldiers. Hanley,
Saunders, Caje, Littlejohn, Billy and Kelly are taken prisoners and
tied up in a barn, hungry and tired. Out of the blue, the artillery
fires at the place and Hanley and his men escape but leave Saunders
tied behind without noticing. When Saunders finally escapes from the
barn, his hands are completely burned and his squad is ahead believing
he has died. Hanley and his squad and Saunders behind try to return to
the Allied lines, and the helpless Saunders becomes delusional with his
wounds. Will they be rescued?
"Survival" is one episode that touches the heart of the viewer and stays in his or her mind. I was a boy when I saw this episode and now seeing it again on DVD, I still recalls Sgt. Saunders' dramatic situation, looking at the apple or carrying a German dead body. The underrated Vic Morrow has a mesmerizing and one of his best performances in the role of the unforgettable Sgt. Saunders. My vote is nine.
Title (Brazil): "Sobrevivência" ("Survival")
In "Survival" we see White Rook toughing it out after fate sets them
free. It's time to acquire food & water while avoiding the Germans en
route to their lines.
In a bombed out French town, White Rook is slugging it out with the Germans when they run out of ammunition and are taken prisoner. Marched at high rate to a farm house, they are tied up in the barn when Americans begin shelling the area. Barn on fire, Germans running for dear life, the squad is mercifully set free by the Germans. Sergeant Saunders loses the use of his hands in the chaos and is forced to fend for himself while in a state of shock. Lieutenant Hanley and the rest of the squad head toward their lines in search of food.
The apple tree scenes are very touching & memorable, and contrast the able bodied with poor Saunders.
Private Kelly (played by Joby Baker) is cast in his last Combat episode and proves out Darwin's Natural Selection Theory.
Vic Morrow does a superb job portraying an incapacitated GI in shock, the ending sequence a terrific piece of acting on his part.
Considering a somewhat below average script, Morrow and White Rook carried the episode well.
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