Hans Gudagast, later to become well known as Eric Braeden plays the title role in this episode. After liberating a small French village, King Company is most warmly greeted by the villagers with wine, young women, song, and good food. Told they would spend several days off duty in the village, the GIs' celebration is quickly cut short when a German sniper shoots one of the Americans. The GIs search for the sniper but cannot find him, and shortly thereafter another GI is killed. The sniper is dressed as a villager and essentially hiding in plain sight most of the time. Saunders finally figures out who the sniper is and also learns he is being aided by his French lover who works in the village café. As the sniper slips between his underground hiding place and the village where he moves freely in the streets and shops, we do not hear him speak to anyone, and we are furnished no reason why he remains to execute his own private war when his comrades have clearly withdrawn. His French lover... Written by
"The Sniper" has some major good points and some major bad points. On the one hand character development is excellent overall. Kirby has a great early scene with Francoise (excellently played by Gail Kobe.) Vintage Kirby! Dialog is outstanding between Francoise and Saunders in both major scenes they're in together, a testament to excellent screen writing by Ed Lakso and superb acting & interaction between seasoned veterans Morrow & Kobe. These two scenes make "The Sniper" a success. Without them, the episode would have fallen way short of respectability.
Francoise has become the village outcast over the years through no real fault of her own. She needed someone to hang onto and was very suggestible in the process. When the evil of her situation hits home, she makes it right. It's very touching to see the Sarge stick up for her to Lieutenant Hanley.
The first major bad point is during the very first major search Saunders and Littlejohn enter the correct building and at that time Saunders sends Caje around the back. Yet, the culprit escapes via the alley behind that same house with Caje in the back. How? It does not add up. On top of that, no one in the alley saw the sniper coming off of the roof. Why not?
Secondly, after the entire squad's been searching the village for the sniper a full 15 hours, they did not find the rifle. Why not, especially considering Saunders was practically right on top of it? In reality the entire squad would have torn every room apart looking; there's no way they would have missed it.
Both of these major flaws could have been avoided by more meticulous directing. Simply not sending Caje around the back and having a better preconceived hiding place for the rifle would have sold these scenes to the viewing audience.
It should be noted child actors Michel Petit & Phillipe Chappele who have a minor scene in "The Sniper," appear in two of the more notable Combat episodes later on in the series.
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