This series ran from 1962 until 1967. It was TV’s longest running WWII drama.
I made this website primarily so that I can share my interest in this awesome series with other fans.
What’s interesting with this series is that, although this is a series, each hour long episode is a stand-alone movie in of itself.
I’m also interested in militaria so I welcome any and all comments regarding that aspect of the shows. Back in the 1960’s, most all of the WWII era movies had a tendency to exaggerate the characters. For example, they would usually always have some sort of authority figure, such as a John Wayne-ish character. You’d have the men, usually portrayed as complaining grunts (most of which was true) and of course the enemy, who were usually simply moveable cardboard cut-out targets for which the “good guys” could take shots at.
Combat diverted from this Hollywood-ification of the typical war movie and instead explored what it was like for the typical “dog face”, which was a nickname given to the lowly grunt infantry man, which the men of Saunder’s squad represented.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of stereotypical characterizations for the Germans as simply being enemy targets. Not to mention that in this series, the German marksman is probably the worst shot in the world and they will typically take a shot at the squad without waiting for the entire squad to make their way into the ambush area. This will, of course, give everybody warning and to duck behind the always convenient logs that seem to be just about everywhere.
One aspect of the series that I didn’t like was not being able to understand the French or German that was being spoken. Of course, there was always the translators like Caje or a convenient German speaker, yet it would’ve been nice to have subtitles for the times when they had rather long conversations in different languages.
Combat is what started the whole “red shirt” character that you saw in Star Trek. These guys were usually replacements, who you knew were going to “get it” (a euphemism for getting killed). This usually happened immediately following some kind of personal moment that the character had. For example, in one episode, one of the privates was conversing with another one and said how he would love to come back to France after the war. Right after that, he gets killed. Some of the characters would stick around for awhile though, I noticed. Ones like Temple and Crown, to the point where you form an emotional attachment to them and feel sorry for them when they finally “get it”.
On the subject of euphemisms. They always say “Get it” as an euphemism for kill. I’m wondering if this had anything to do with the Vietnam war going on at the time and perhaps they didn’t want to bring it to the attention of the American public? I wonder if this was an actual euphemism that the G.I.’s used back then?
I know one thing. My French has improved while watching this along with learning some German. I’m trying to translate all those parts into subtitles but it’s a painstaking process. I would appreciate any help from French and German speakers that I could get.
Also, just for fun, I’m trying to pinpoint the location of the squad so I’ll often include a map with the location. Since there are no subtitles available even on the DVD’s, it’s almost impossible to make out which town they’re referring to. Those French names sound so alike sometimes and don’t sound anything like they’re spelled.
If you’re wondering why I made a blog about a series about war, it’s not because I think that war is a good thing or positive in any way. Combat diverted from the typical Hollywood glorification of war which typically appealed to male blood lust fantasy. Combat definitely had it’s anti-war moments where it makes you realize what devastating effect war can take on both people and country. The effects of the war will stay in the collective consciousness for a long period of time. I think that war should never be something to be entered into lightly and should always be a last resort. Combat showed the horrors, but not necessarily in a horrific way as in some of the more contemporary films, such as Fury or Saving Private Ryan, where they’re showing actual blood, guts and suffering. Combat stayed away from that yet you still felt the effects through the strong acting. The only suffering you would see is the soldier grimacing in pain while smoking a cigarette, which they did quite often. What a different scene it would have been if vaping was invented back then.