The short-lived TV series, The Gallant Men 1962, was an ABC series which tried to compete with the more successful COMBAT, which ran from 1962-1967. Both shows started when I was still in junior high and I still have fond memories, especially of COMBAT, as it ran up to the time I entered the Air Force.
The show COMBAT, followed a squad of men in France. The Gallant Men followed an infantry company, as they fought their way through Italy. Unlike their competitor, the storyline was narrated by a newspaper correspondent, Conley Wright. The character, played by Robert McQueeny, traveled on the company’s missions and gave a running documentary.
Commanding the company, was Capt. Jim Benedict, played by William Reynolds, (Later he gained fame in the series, “The FBI”). Unlike COMBAT whose realism was extraordinary, The Gallant Men suffered from typical stereotypes. For instance, PFC Pete D’Angelo played by Eddie Fontaine, portrayed the “ladies man,” John McKenna (Richard X. Slattery), was the callous and unsympathetic sergeant, and rounding out the unit, good buddies and close friends, Pvt. Ernie Lucavic (Roland La Starza-Boxing Video with Rocky Marciano),- and Pvt. Sam Hanson, (Robert Gothie).
Besides the typical stereotypes, the show suffered from “standard,” plot lines and characterizations. A major reason in its demise was the unrealistic portrayal of an American combat unit in the Sicilian Campaign. Unlike the show COMBAT, which showed death and injury on both sides of the fence, The Gallant Men more or less, killed the enemy in great numbers, without suffering much themselves. This was especially noteworthy, in that in reality, the allies suffered heavy casualties during the Italian invasion.
Even though The Gallant Men couldn’t hold a candle to COMBAT, I still watched it. At that age, we had no idea, about the intricacies of filmmaking, nor the difference in realism or acting. We did however, have a good sense of what we liked and what we didn’t. In the end, like many others, we loved COMBAT but watched The Gallant Men, just because it was on.
Sgt. Mac’s Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.