Season 1 Episode 19 – The Chateau

Directed: Laslo Benedek
Written: Judith & George W. George
Released: 12 Feb 1963

This episode features one of my least favorite characters, Doc Watson. I never really cared for him very much although he was their original Medic who landed with the squad on D-Day at Omaha Beach.

I much preferred the other Doc that started in Season 2, played by Conlan Carter. This Doc, with his sad dog face in almost every scene was tiresome. I’m not sure that he even smiled once during the series although I’m sure he must have cracked one at some point.

Doc is transporting a Lieutenant, Braddock and Corporal Cording, who is being played by Frank Sutton, famous from his Sgt. Carter in the Gomer Pyle series. At least they made Cording a non-comm instead of a buck private.

Doc and the men at chateau
Doc and the wounded men at the Chateau

The driver, Pvt Jackson gets lost trying to find the aid center. They end up making a wrong turn and end up at a beautiful French chateau. They enter the chateau and introduce themselves. They’re greeted by Gabrielle, the daughter of Count de Contran who tells the men that they are onn land occupied by the Germans.

Count de Contran then orders the men all to leave at once but Doc convinces him that he has wounded men that need tending to and requests a room where he can work on them. The Count reluctantly gives them a sitting room where they end up.

This is the only episode that I’ve seen Braddock playing a serious role. No goofy music playing when he’s around to indicate a comedic scene. Braddock has a wound on his right hand making it impossible for him to shoot a rifle properly.

Gabrielle, played by a young Joan Hackett is a young debutante, who in normal circumstances would be occupying herself with social functions who a woman of her social standing would be expected to participate. Her father, the Count even makes a mention to her in one scene where he tells her that the only thing he wants from her are grandchildren. I wonder how a modern woman would have reacted to such a statement?

Pvt Johnson
Pvt Jackson trying to make a break for it to get back to the U.S. lines but he runs into the Germans and gets killed

Finding a suitable mate would surely have been one of the primary concerns of people of their social standing.

They agree that one of them should try and get back to get word to their line. Pvt Jackson the driver volunteers but on his way out of the estate, runs into a couple of German staff cars, one of which opens up on him with an MP-40 causing him to get hit and he runs off the road.

The Germans arrive at the Chateau and the German Major instructs the Count and his daughter that he and his men are going to be guests in their house temporarily. The part of a smarmy German Major is played by Dan O’Herlihy. He does a great job of playing the Major who on the one hand tells the Count that he is a “guest” and on the other hand is busy wrapping up all the priceless artwork in the Chateau to be sent somewhere for “safe keeping”. The Count even points out to the Major that all the boxes are addressed to Stuttgart and isn’t that where the Major is from also?

The Major had the Count and his daughter as his guest for dinner on his first night there. He presented them with some delicacies that he was privileged to have acquired. For example some wine from Rome that he brought back after being stationed there.

Thinking about this quote, by this time, the Allies have already won Italy so the Major must have tasted the bitter taste of defeat himself, which explains why he is so unabashedly helping himself to all the artwork in the Chateau.

Braddock and Corporal Cording concoct a plan to escape so that one of them is able to get word back to regiment about the Germans. They agree that Cording should try it.

They overpower the guard that dozed off and killed him. Cording then tries to make his way out of the front room but is spotted by the Major’s aide-de-camp. The look of sheer defeat on Frank Sutton’s face was great. When he stands up, the Major simply shoots him without batting an eye. He hears Gabrielle inhale at the top of the stairs and then feigning concern tells her that she should see such things and for her to go back to bed.

Gabrielle learns about the Major’s plans to steal all of their artwork and goes to him on her own accord to beg a favor from him for her concerns to her father. She begs him to please not include the “Faginard” because that’s her father’s favorite piece. There’s also the implied hint that she is willing to do anything for this favor and you can see the wheels of lust spinning in the Major’s head. This is disgusting especially since the girl could be the same age as his daughter and the actor pulls it off well.

Faginard
Faginard

Gabrielle joins the Major later and he invites her up to his room. Gabrielle tells him that she needs to say goodbye to her father, which she has done every night of her life.

She enters his room to find him dead in his chair clutching this unsigned letter.

Gabrielle goes to the Major’s room and acting as if she is initiating sex by unbuttoning her top buttons to her dress, she entices him to come close to her at which time she knifes him with a dagger that she brought in with her.

She then gathers up his pistol and tricked the aide-de-camp that her father needed the Doc for some medicines. Doc sees that he’s dead but he takes the Luger that she handed off to him to go along with the ruse.

The Doc had the Luger in his Medic kit bag as they leave. Doc hands the Lieutenant the Luger who hands it to Braddock who then shoots the German driver. I thought that it was highly unlikely that they would have detailed the driver to take those guys anywhere all by himself without an accompanying guard.

Once the guys get back to the company C.P. the Lieutenant tells them about how the Chateau is being used as an artillery observation post.

Next, we see a squadron of B-24’s dropping bombs on it and Gabrielle sitting in the Chateau awaiting her fate as the walls and roof come crashing down around her.

Pvt Jackson, the driver and Corporal Cording got killed

Braddock kills the German driver

Gabrielle kills the German Major

 

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