Directed: Bernard McEveety
Written: Steven Rich
Released: 26 Feb 1963
The guys in the squad are in a village called Vernay, which is way south of Paris. Hanley says that the 21st bypassed the village 5 days before. Kirby, as usual, complains about having to mop up all these small villages.
This episode is pretty sinister in the way it portrays the German soldiers as being remorseless and mercenary and even vengeful and spiteful in their actions. This is demonstrated with the German Lieutenant who is the Paratrooper in charge of taking over the little village, Lt. Leibner, played by Gunnar Hellstrom. He plays an irritatingly matter of fact German soldier who has the knack of hitting the subject right on the heaad. He also played the German doctor in the episode I Swear By Apollo.
As they approach the village entrance, the squad gets ambushed and come under fire by a bunch of Germans. Hanley has Kirby launch some rifle grenades into some windows to clear them. Then he has him shoot a smoke grenade into the entrance to the village. (I noticed that these are only practice grenades.)
Here’s a question I have about grenades, once again. If they have rifle grenades readily available, then why not carry them all the time? That will reduce the necessity of a man having to get close enough to hand lob a grenade into an enemy position.
A Frenchman comes out of the smoke and tells Hanley that some German Paratroopers came in and they captured himself, the librarian and 5 children. One of which is his grandson. They are holding them hostage because they realize that without them, the Americans will simply rain artillery shells down on them to wipe them out.
The librarian is named Annette, played by Denise Alexander. She’s a woman that has lived in that village her entire life and has never experienced anything outside of it. Her whole life experiences has been through reading her books which she considers the most precious things in her life.
The German Lieutenant proceeds to bully her while all she can do is be a whimpering little mess and begging for mercy. You can see she is terrified of him.
Lt. Hanley, in the meantime, devises a plan to sneak back into the village to assess the situation to determine whether his squad can take it themselves. They have to use this choice because with the civilian hostages in there, they can’t simply blow the village up with artillery.
While he’s at the entrance of the village, he witnesses the Germans throwing piles of books out of the window to be used as a bonfire.
The only reason I can see for this scene is simply of portraying the Germans as being evil and showing off one of the actions that gave them such notoriety and world attention. There was no need to burn those books aside from the German Lieutenant’s need for spite against the little French librarian, Annette.
During all of his evil doings, he always gave Annette the sinister hint that she can prevent what he is doing if she wanted to. This was obviously some kind of a sick attempt for him to make a sexual advance to her by using his actions to blackmail her.
Hanley is able to sneak into a back room. While he’s back there, the German Lieutenant brings Annette in there as well and as Hanley listened, he made an advance towards her until he got called away by one of his men. Hanley then took the opportunity to tell Annette that he was there to help her and terrified, she told him that there’s nothing he can do and for him to please go away. Hanley is armed only with a .45. He didn’t bring his Carbine with him, which I thought was weird because how much could it have weighed?
From what I can tell, it was the German Lieutenant and 4 other Germans that parachuted into the village to use it as an observation post to direct artillery. I could see the spotter, three other guys and the Lieutenant so that’s 5 total. Every once in awhile, you’ll see them up there watching the American troop movements through their spotting scope and sending coordinates back to their C.P.
I noticed something about these German paratroopers. Didn’t they cast some guys that looked very similar for the role? They all have that good looking, square jawed, Sean Connery sort of look about them. You wouldn’t think that somebody like that would be evil in the way they’re portraying them. What I’m trying to say is that Hollywood usually uses somebody that is evil looking to portray an evil person, not somebody that is good looking as they’re doing on here.
After being in contact with Saunders in the rear, Hanley is adamant that he doesn’t want the squad to come in and rescue him. He says that it’s bad enough that he got himself into that mess than to drag everybody else down there too.
Saunders tells Hanley that he has until 2200 to get them out of there or else they’ll begin shelling. That gives him 2 hours.
Hanley then sneaks out of the room that he’s in with his .45 in hand. Annette and the old Frenchman’s grandson sees him and she’s horrified.
She then convinces one of the Germans that the grandson is cold and that he needs a blanket. I don’t know exactly what she said but that seemed to be the exchange.
I wonder why, in a country that is only one country away from the other one, the people don’t at least speak a few words of that other country?
She goes downstairs to where Hanley is hiding. He tries to convince her that he needs to know where the Germans are but she’s terrified and adamant that she cannot help. Next, the old man comes down there as well and they furiously discuss what they must do.
The German then comes down there and Hanley gets him with a knife. That’s when the Lieutenant comes down there to investigate and then he shoots the old Frenchman as he runs at him with the knife that Hanley used to kill the German. The Lieutenant assumed that he was the one that killed the other German.
After that the Lieutenant shows even a more sinister side when he suggests to Annette that he is going to kill the boy. She is horrified about the suggestion. He then again makes another suggestion that there’s something that she can do about it. (meaning sex)
That’s when she decides that she has to act and she finds a pen and paper and she writes a note which she hands off to the boy. The boy is able to sneak off and he finds Hanley and gives him the note. The note contains all the positions of the German guards.
She then convinces the Lieutenant to go with her alone, suggesting sex. The Lieutenant goes with her and they drink wine and become intimate.
In the meantime, with Hanley knowing the positions of the German guards, he sneaks up on the one that’s guarding the kids and jumps him from the stairs and knocks him out. Then, he takes the kids and runs with them. Another guard that was outside spots them and Hanley opens fire on him with the MP-40 he had just taken off the first guard. He misses though because the guy ducked behind a wall.
As Hanley and the kids were running towards the town exit, one of the little girls fall and Hanley stoops to pick her up. The German guard was reluctant to shoot and when the Lieutenant told him to shoot, he explained that he couldn’t because of the “kinder” which means kids. The Lieutenant takes the MP-40 off of him and then fires at Hanley as he disappears behind the wall. He then turns around and opens the MP-40 up on his own man. Then he goes to confront Annette as if he knew that she was complicit. It is right at that moment that the artillery shell comes flying in and just happens to land directly on top of him and killing him.
After Hanley got back to his lines, he wanted to go back to see what happened with Annette. He was warned by Saunders that after that barrage, nobody could have survived it. Sure enough, when they went back, she was lying dead under a bunch of wreckage from the shelling.
Saunders killed 1 German
Hanley killed 2 Germans