The Gallant Men

The Gallant Men is a 1962–1963 ABC Warner Bros. Television series which depicted an infantry company of American soldiers fighting their way through Italy in World War II.

The Gallant Men
The Gallant Men.JPG
William Reynolds and Robert McQueeney in The Gallant Men
Created byRichard Bluel
StarringWilliam Reynolds
Robert McQueeney
Country of originUSA
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes26
Production
Executive producerWilliam T. Orr
Running time60 minutes
Release
Original networkABC
Original releaseOctober 5, 1962 (1962-10-05) –
March 30, 1963 (1963-03-30)

DescriptionEdit

The Gallant Men dramatized the experiences of the fictional Able Company within the 36th Infantry Division, Fifth Army, beginning with the division's amphibious landing at Salerno, Italy, on September 9, 1943.[1] The pilot episode was directed by Robert Altman.[2]

The company's commander was Capt. Jim Benedict, played by William Reynolds, who later appeared in the long-running series, The F.B.I. Their exploits were narrated by a newspaper correspondent — Conley Wright, played by Robert McQueeney — who accompanied them on their missions. The show lasted only one season. It succumbed to tough competition from the other networks and so-so responses from critics and audiences. The show also faced unfavorable comparisons with ABC's other World War II series launched the same year, Combat!.

The Gallant Men tended to be formulaic in plotting and characterization, with such stereotypes as ladies' man PFC Pete D'Angelo (played by Eddie Fontaine), hard-as-nails Sgt. John McKenna (Richard X. Slattery), and inseparable buddies Pvt. Ernie Lucavich (Roland La Starza) and Pvt. Sam Hanson (Robert Gothie). The regular cast would unrealistically dispatch large numbers of German troops while experiencing minimal or no injuries themselves in the Italian campaign, where historically the Allies suffered heavy casualties from determined German resistance that lasted until the end of World War II in Europe. Though promotional materials for the series promised a dramatization of the Italian campaign from Salerno to Rome,[3] the series played out nearly in real time. Its 26 episodes take place between September 1943 and early spring 1944.[4]

The series blended original footage with shots from wartime newsreels and stock footage from Warner Bros. war films such as Force of Arms, Darby's Rangers and A Walk in the Sun.

Regular castEdit

Actor/Character
William Reynolds Capt. Jim Benedict
Robert McQueeney Conley Wright
Robert Ridgely Lt. Frank Kimbro
Richard X. Slattery 1st Sgt. John McKenna
Eddie Fontaine PFC Pete D'Angelo
Roland La Starza Pvt. Ernie Lucavich
Roger Davis Pvt. Roger Gibson
Robert Gothie Pvt. Sam Hanson

Episode listEdit

No. Title Initial airing Director Writer(s)
1 Battle Zone October 5, 1962 Robert Altman Halsted Welles
2 Retreat to Concord October 12, 1962 Richard C. Sarafian William Bruckner
3 And Cain Cried Out October 19, 1962 Charles R. Rondeau Ken Pettus
4 The Ninety-Eight Cent Man October 26, 1962 Richard C. Sarafian Richard L. Adams
5 One Moderately Peaceful Sunday November 2, 1962 Richard C. Sarafian Montgomery Pittman
6 Lesson for a Lover November 9, 1962 Charles R. Rondeau Richard Landau & Jerry Davis
7 And the End of Evil Things November 16, 1962 Richard C. Sarafian David Lang
8 Some Tears Fall Dry November 23, 1962 Charles R. Rondeau Don Tait
9 Fury in a Quiet Village November 30, 1962 Richard C. Sarafian Stephen Lord
10 Signals for an End Run December 7, 1962 Richard C. Sarafian David Giler & Berne Giler
11 Robertino December 14, 1962 Charles R. Rondeau Herman Groves
12 A Place to Die December 21, 1962 Charles R. Rondeau Herman Groves
13 Advance and Be Recognized December 29, 1962 Robert Totten James O'Hanlon & George O'Hanlon
14 To Hold Up a Mirror January 5, 1963 Charles R. Rondeau Charles Smith
15 Boast Not of Tomorrow January 12, 1963 Charles R. Rondeau Ken Pettus
16 The Dogs of War January 19, 1963 Charles R. Rondeau Jason Wingreen & Ken Pettus
17 The Bridge January 26, 1963 Richard C. Sarafian Herman Groves
18 The Leathernecks February 2, 1963 Charles R. Rondeau Ken Pettus (teleplay)
19 Next of Kin February 9, 1963 Robert Sparr Ken Pettus
20 Operation Secret February 16, 1963 Robert Sparr Richard Landau
21 The Warriors February 23, 1963 Richard C. Sarafian Richard Landau (teleplay)
22 One Puka Puka March 2, 1963 Leslie H. Martinson David Lang
23 Ol´ Buddy March 9, 1963 Richard L. Bare William Koenig
24 A Taste of Peace March 16, 1963 Richard C. Sarafian Ken Pettus
25 The Crucible March 23, 1963 Charles R. Rondeau Don Tait (teleplay), William L. Stuart (story)
26 Tommy March 30, 1963 Charles R. Rondeau James O'Hanlon & George O'Hanlon

DevelopmentEdit

Warner Bros. television producer William T. Orr tried as early as 1960 to generate interest in a weekly dramatic series set in World War II. The early concept was called Battle Zone. The reception he found from the three major TV networks was lukewarm at best. "It wasn't that the networks were hostile to the idea," Orr told The New York Times in 1962. "They seemed to be in a kind of morass of indecision about it."[5] Orr also predicted that, if Gallant Men were successful, networks would warm to more series set during the war. Looking for more original programming in its 1962-63 TV season, ABC gave the green light to Battle Zone, which was re-titled The Gallant Men.

The pilot episode was budgeted at $170,000 ($1.46 million in 2020 dollars).[6] In preparation for shooting, director Robert Altman and story editor Richard Bluel screened John Huston's 1945 documentary The Battle of San Pietro. Eight days were spent on production, broken down into one day each for tests and post-production, and six shooting days. Primary filming took place in December 1961 and January 1962.[7] Warner Bros. offered Altman a contract to continue directing the series, but the director found himself dissatisfied with Warner's production style and accepted an offer from Combat! executive producer Selig J. Seligman.[7]

Members of the principal cast received basic military training on the Warner backlot over the spring of 1962, led by two veterans of the Italian campaign, Maj. Richard Lauer and SFC Robert McClintic.[8] The cast familiarized themselves with action sequences using trenches and bomb craters dug by studio special effects personnel.[9]

In May 1962,[10] Army Lt. Col. David Sisco was tapped to be the series' military adviser. By coincidence, Sisco was friends with. Maj. Homer Jones, the technical adviser for Combat![11] Sisco served in the 36th Infantry Division in Italy, the group depicted in The Gallant Men. His job wasn't just limited to teaching the actors how to properly shoot; at times, Sisco and his Army superiors nixed or altered storylines so as not to cast soldiers or the Army itself in a negative light.[11] At least one television critic said such changes weakened the show.[12]

Cancellation and syndicationEdit

In December 1962, ABC pulled the plug on The Roy Rogers Show, opening an hour-long gap (7:30 - 8:30 p.m. ET) in the network's Saturday primetime schedule. Gallant Men was moved into that timeslot.[13] By February 1963, doubtful reports began to circulate about The Gallant Men's future.[14] Late that month, ABC announced it would not order a second season, and the same week William T. Orr was removed as head of Warner's television division.[15][16] Warner Bros. then tried to sell commissioned but unproduced episode scripts to Combat![17] That effort may have borne fruit, as three episodes from the second season of Combat! are credited to Gallant Men writers.[16]

Before the year was out, Warner Bros. was selling the series' 26 episodes to local stations across the country as part of its syndicated program offerings. A magazine ad in February 1964 claimed Gallant Men reruns beat first-run network programming in the New York City television market, and that the series was running in 20 markets across the United States.[18] The series remained part of Warner Bros.' television syndication package until at least 1968.[19]

Home mediaEdit

On July 24, 2012, Warner Bros. released The Gallant Men: The Complete Series on DVD in Region 1 via their Warner Archive Collection.[20] This is a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release, available exclusively in the US and only through Warner's online store.

Tie-insEdit

  • Eddie Fontaine sang lyrics to Sy Miller's end title song My Heart Belongs to You on one episode with Warner Bros. Records releasing the song of 45rpm
  • The Louis Marx and Company released a 1963 military playset with character figures from the show joining the usual American toy soldiers.[21]
  • In 1966, Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen recorded the song "Gallant Men." It became a hit in the U.S., reaching #29 on the Billboard Hot 100 during the winter of 1967.[22] It also reached #100 in Canada.[23]
  • In 1963, Dell Publishing produced one issue of a comic book based on the show. The comic book contained two original standalone stories not drawn from the broadcast episodes.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Welles, Halsted (October 5, 1962). "The Gallant Men (pilot)". The Gallant Men. Season 1. Episode 1. ABC.
  2. ^ Davidsmeyer, Jo (2011). "Robert Altman". CombatFan.com. Retrieved January 18, 2020.
  3. ^ No byline (May 7, 1962). "How Many Americans Will Relive This Story on October 5, 1962?". Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc.
  4. ^ Tait, Don (March 23, 1963). "The Crucible". The Gallant Men. Season 1. Episode 25. ABC.
  5. ^ Schumach, Murray (24 August 1962). "2 TV FILM GROUPS PLAN WAR SERIES: Warner Brothers and A.B.C See Future in Subject". The New York Times. p. 14.
  6. ^ "CPI Inflation Calculator". Bureau of Labor Statistics. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
  7. ^ a b McGilligan, Patrick (1989). Robert Altman: Jumping Off the Cliff. St. Martin's Press. p. 184.
  8. ^ No byline (1 July 1962). "'Gallant Men' Actors Undergo GI Training". Hartford Courant. p. 5G.
  9. ^ No byline (6 October 1962). "In Hollywood, This Means War". TV Guide.
  10. ^ No byline (26 May 1962). "Battle Veteran to Aid Gallant Men Fighting". Los Angeles Times. p. B2.
  11. ^ a b Humphrey, Hal (21 December 1962). "War in Hollywood Is Hell for Adviser". The Washington Post. p. 14.
  12. ^ No byline (12 January 1963). "TV Scout: Palmer Sports Has New Flare". Nashville Tennessean. p. 16.
  13. ^ Adams, Val (26 November 1962). "A.B.C. TO CANCEL ROY ROGERS SHOW: Program Realignment Will Affect 4 TV Programs". The New York Times. p. 59.
  14. ^ No byline (February 18, 1963). "Next Season? More of the Same for TV". Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc.
  15. ^ Schumach, Murray (14 March 1963). "TV OFFICIAL GIVES AUTONOMY PLEDGE: Warner's Cites Inducements to Creative Talent". The New York Times.
  16. ^ a b Bowie, Stephen (2 April 2013). "The Gallant Men". The Classic History TV Blog. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  17. ^ No byline (20 February 1963). "Sudden Death for W.B.'s Gallant Men". Variety.
  18. ^ No byline (February 17, 1964). "The Gallant Men Beats Network Competition in New York". Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc.
  19. ^ No byline (January 22, 1968). "Off-Network Series From Warner Bros.-Seven Arts". Broadcasting. Broadcasting Publications, Inc.
  20. ^ Gallant Men, The: Complete Collection
  21. ^ Playset Magazine, Issue 68, March/April 2013, "The Gallant Men Play Sets."
  22. ^ Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955–1990 - ISBN 0-89820-089-X
  23. ^ "Item Display - RPM - Library and Archives Canada". Collectionscanada.gc.ca. 1967-01-02. Retrieved 2019-02-17.

External linksEdit