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The Big Gamble
Series: Hogan's Heroes
Episode: The Big Gamble
Original Airdate: November 21, 1969
Production Number: 5784-129
Written by: Laurence Marks
Directed by: Marc Daniels
Produced by: Edward H. Feldman, William A. Calihan & Jerry London

Regular Edit

Prisoners Edit

Camp Personnel Edit

Semi-Regulars Edit

Guest Stars Edit

Synopsis Edit

Hogan must prevent the Germans from getting hold of a secret device that was aboard a plane shot down near camp.

Plot Details Edit

The episode opens with Schultz and another soldier nailing a sign to the outside of Klink's office. It reads HEADQUARTERS WINTER RELIEF - COLONEL KLINK CHAIRMAN. Inside, Klink is pestering Hogan about his men contributing their share. Hogan points out that Winter Relief is a charity for the German war effort, and his men want Germany to lose the war. As Klink argues with him, they hear the sound of bombers flying overhead. They rush outside to see Schultz and some of the other POWs staring up in the sky, as a large mass of American bombers heads towards the German heartland. Within minutes the area AA batteries open fire, and one of the planes is hit. Both prisoners and guards run for cover as the plane - an American heavy bomber - pancakes onto the road just ouside of camp, breaking apart upon impact.

Later, Hogan and his men look upon the sad scene from inside of the camp wire. There are pieces of the bomber scattered everywhere. Parts of the right wing and tail section are lying crumpled against the nearby bluff, while the remains of the cockpit and nose section lie in the middle of the road. Fortunately, most of the crew bailed out before the crash, but they don't escape the cordon that the area German military quickly threw around the wrecked plane. As Hogan and his men continue to watch, one of its surviving crewmembers is brought by truck into the camp. As is his place as senior POW at Stalag 13, Hogan makes himself present when the man is questioned - reminding him to give only name, rank, and serial number. The man is Captain John Mitchell, USAAF - pilot and commander of the bomber. Following Hogan's instructions, he refuses to tell Klink where he was based or to which squadron he belongs. When he tries (and fails) to slip Hogan a note saying he wants to speak in private, Klink has him locked up in solitary confinment. Hogan's suspicions are aroused, and he makes the appropriate arrangements with the Unsung Heroes to speak to Crandall alone.

As LeBeau runs interference with Schultz (via a plate of freshly baked potato pancakes), Hogan sneaks into the cooler via a secret tunnel to talk to Mitchell. Hogan provoked Mitchell's incarceration, he tells him, because the cooler is the most private place in camp. The survivors of his crew are being held at Stalag 4. Mitchell thanks him, but has bad news for Hogan. His bomber was equipped with a brand-new directional finder, aka "DF box," for determining distance to target using secret transmitters set up by the underground. If the Germans get their hands on that box, they will eventually figure out how it works and where those secret transmitters are located. Hogan understands, and thanks Michell for the information. He has Mitchell sketch a picture of the box before leaving. Hogan's job is clear - either to secure or destroy the box in Mitchell's wrecked bomber. He doesn't have much time, though, as Klink has already moved to secure the wreckage.

Hogan's plan is simple - he sends out Newkirk and Carter, disguised as a camp officer and guard respectively, to relieve Klink's guard in the middle of the night. Once alone, Carter is to go into the wreck and remove the box - using Mitchell's picture to properly identify it. The plan almost works, too - save that just as the disguised Newkirk and Carter appear on the scene to relieve the guard, an SS detachment shows up out of nowhere and relieves the guard before they can. Leading the detachment is the area Gestapo chief, their old friend SS Major Feldkamp. An expert from Berlin is on the way to examine the wreck, and the SS will guard it until he arrives. Newkirk and Carter are forced to beat a hasty retreat, lest Feldkamp get a good look at them and remember who they are. The next day, as a distressed Hogan and the Unsung Heroes watch from behind the wire, Feldkamp's SS men remove the DF box from the wrecked plane. Feldkamp promptly secures it until the arrival of the expert.

Having failed to secure the box in the first place, Hogan's next move is to finagle the box out of Feldkamp's hands. He has Carter build a surprisingly good replica of the DF box, based on Mitchell's sketch and the brief glimpse they got of it with their own eyes. Next, he has LeBeau sneak into Klink's office and photograph a copy of the file Feldkamp has provided Klink on the expert that is coming. His name is Dr. Wolfgang Becker, and he is about as squeaky clean as a man can get - save in one area. The man has but one vice, and that is gambling. He never lets it get out of control or allows himself to go into debt; nevertheless, he loves to gamble. It is all they have to work with, but at least it's something - and with that, Hogan's nimble mind springs into action.

Hogan convinces Klink that the best way to raise the most funds for his Winter Relief campaign is to set up a Monte Carlo style gambling casino within Stalag 13. He assures him that both he and his fellow prisoners are willing to overlook this violation of the Geneva Convention, so long as they're allowed to keep any tips they make. All of the house winnings will go to Winter Relief, and Klink will make a name for himself in the process. Klink eagerly agrees to the idea, and within 24 hours a full-blown gambling casino has been built within the previously empty Barracks 9. Everything is set to snare Becker, save that Feldkamp won't let him out of his sight, and is trying his best to rush him back to Berlin. Hogan has to risk a personal visit to Becker, in spite of Feldkamp, to let him know about the impromptu casino, and soon the man's own vice has the better of him. He has two hours to wait until his plane to Berlin arrives at the local airport. Allowing for trip time to and processing at the airport ... why, that leaves him at least an hour to gamble!

Hogan and the Unsung Heroes have to act fast, and right under the Gestapo's nose. An irritated Feldkamp has followed Dr. Becker into the casino, and is watching him like a hawk. This is understandable, because the suitcase in which the DF box has been secured is handcuffed to Dr. Becker's wrist. He doesn't let it slow him down from gambling, though, and is soon having the time of his life. Hogan quickly sends for Newkirk and his "ring of keys," and has Carter give smoke bombs to all of the POWs serving as croupiers, while he gives special orders to Kinch. At Hogan's signal, they throw their smoke bombs while LeBeau kills the lights. Amid the confusion that ensues, Kinch quickly slips up to Dr. Becker and knocks him out with a karate chop to the back of his neck. The man collapses near one of the tables, under which Newkirk is waiting with his keys and Carter with the dummy DF box. Within seconds Newkirk has the briefcase open, switches the boxes with Carter, and has it locked again. Both Carter and Newkirk high-tail it out of there with the real DF box, while Hogan helps Dr. Becker to his feet and the lights come back on. An agitated Feldkamp quickly checks the briefcase while the others look after Dr. Becker. Finding the dummy DF box, and taking it for the real one, a relieved Feldkamp relocks the briefcase. Hogan's plan has succeeded - and on top of it, Becker's losses have contributed to a nice pile of winnings for the house and Klink's Winter Relief campaign.

The next day, in front of Schultz and Hogan, Colonel Klink counts the stack of money that his casino has earned. Hogan makes Schultz give up a mark that the sergeant had tried to slip up his sleeve. After an angry Klink sends Schultz out of the room, Hogan watches with disdain as Klink counts out 200 marks from his earnings for "personal expenses." Hogan then threatens to expose Klink's planned embezzlement, noting that he'll be the only German officer on the Russian front "with an expense account" ... and with that, the episode ends.

Story NotesEdit

  • This is the one hundred and twenty-ninth episode of the series, but is the one hundred and twenty-seventh episode shown on television and the ninth episode shown for the Fifth Season.
  • This is the third and final appearance of the character of SS Major (Colonel) Feldkamp in the series, but only the second chronologically.
  • Dr. Wolfgang Becker was an early member of the Nazi Party. He currently lives in Hanover with his wife and two children. He does not drink, smoke, or cheat, according to his official Gestapo file; however, he has a weakness for gambling.

Background Trivia Edit

  • Winter Relief (German Winterhilfe, or more properly Winterhilfswerk) was an annual Nazi Party charity drive. Its stated goal was to provide food, clothing, heat (in the form of coal), and other such necessities to needy Germans during the cold winter months. It became notorious primarily for three things: first, the zeal of the Party in collecting for it; second, the zeal with which the Party persecuted (or prosecuted) those who failed to contribute; third, the lengths many Germans would go to in order to avoid paying the amount their local Party functionaries felt they should contribute. With regards to the third point - just as has happened in some Western charities, many Winterhilfe workers used the opportunity to line their own pockets, as we see both Klink and Schultz try to do in this episode.
  • The color footage of the American bombers flying high overhead was originally filmed for the WWII documentary Memphis Belle: The Story of a Flying Fortress.
  • While the DF box in the episode is fictional, the technology is historical fact. Radio direction finding was a tried and true technology used by both Axis and Allies during World War II. In its simplest form, all that is involved in radio direction finding are at least two AM or long wave (LW) radio transmitters and a loop antenna mounted on the plane involved. By tuning the loop to where the signals are the strongest, a skilled radio operator can use those bearings to determine position. Radio direction finding was in use by both civilian and military aircraft prior to the war, and saw its greatest wartime refinement in "Huff-Duff", or high-frequency radio rangefinding (HFDF).
  • Actor Noam Pitlik (Mitchell) is a frequent guest star in the series, playing a variety of roles. He was first featured in the series pilot, The Informer.
  • Actor Chet Stratton (Becker) also takes a turn as underground agent Karl in Cuisine à la Stalag 13.
  • The wrecked bomber prop is used in other episodes of the series, namely The General Swap and Hogan Goes Hollywood. It can also be seen in many TV shows of the era, most notably in the classic Twilight Zone episode King Nine Will Not Return. It was purchased after the war for use as a studio prop and still existed, disassembled and in storage, in Hollywood at the time this article was written (2010).

Timeline Notes and Speculations Edit

Quotes Edit

Klink pesters Hogan about his men contributing to Winter Relief.

  • Klink - Now, how much would your men like to contribute to the Winter Relief fund?
  • Hogan - Are you kidding? We want you to lose the war, remember?
  • Klink (shocked) - There is nothing you would care to give?
  • Hogan - Yeah! A little advice: surrender!

The men and inmates of Stalag 13 watch a flight of American bombers fly overhead.

  • Klink - Ahh! Our great and glorious Luftwaffe is on its way to destroy England!
  • Hogan - Better have your monicle checked, commandant. That's our gang up there.
  • Schultz (watching through binoculars) - Yes, he's right! I can see the markings on the planes.
  • Klink (irritated) - Did I ask you?!
  • Hogan - In about a half-an-hour your favorite beer hall in Berlin is going to be missing.
  • Schultz - The planes are heading north-by-northeast at approximately 3000 feet ... at the moment German anti-aircraft batteries are firing with deadly accuracy ... just a minute, folks! There is a development .... One of the bombers has been hit! The parachutes are opening! The crew is bailing out! I estimate the plane will crash near Stalag 13 -- near Stalag 13?!?!

(Everybody except Klink, Hogan, and Schultz scramble for cover as the doomed plane falls towards the camp. Schultz continues watching with his binoculars.)

  • Schultz (continuing) - The plane is going to crash near Stalag 13!
  • Klink (elated) - Beautiful shooting! (smirking) You lost a plane, Hogan.
  • Hogan (calmly) - We may have lost a plane, but we gained a great radio announcer.

Hogan and his men survey the wrecked plane from behind the camp wire.

  • Carter - Boy, what a wreck!
  • Hogan - Those guys are lucky to bail out.
  • Kinch - Yeah, nobody could have walked away from that one.
  • LeBeau - Anything there we could use, colonel?
  • Hogan - I don't think so. We've got enough ashtrays.
  • Carter - I could sneak out tonight and see if there's anything to salvage.
  • Newkirk (looking at Hogan, nodding at Carter) - Have you met our local junk dealer?
  • Hogan - Forget it. Give the Germans something to play with.

(A small truck approaches the camp gate. Mitchell is in the back, under guard.)

  • LeBeau - Uh-oh, the Boches have something else to play with ....

Later, as Hogan sneaks into the cooler to speak with Mitchell ...

  • Mitchell - Tunnelling INTO jail?
  • Hogan - Anybody can tunnel OUT of jail.

(Hogan motions for him to be quiet. He checks to see that LeBeau has Schultz suitably distracted, and that there are no other guards present. He then approaches Mitchell's cell. Outside, Schultz is busy wolfing down LeBeau's food bribe.)

  • Schultz - Amazing! A Frenchman that knows how to make OUR pancakes! If you wanted to, you could be a German!
  • LeBeau (looks disgusted) - Maybe in the next war.

(Back in the cooler ...)

  • Hogan - How do you like our little motel?
  • Mitchell - Charming.
  • Hogan - Yeah, the guidebook gives it four stars with a skull and crossbones.

Hogan briefs Kinch, Carter, and Newkirk on his first plan to recover the DF box.

  • Hogan - You all go out through the emergency tunnel. Kinch, you wait. Newkirk, you'll be in an officer's uniform. Carter, you'll be a private.
  • Carter (enthusiastically) - That's how I started my army career.
  • Newkirk - Hey, hey, just a minute. If we get caught in German uniforms [outside the wire] it's not the cooler, you know. It's "what will you have for your last meal!"
  • Hogan (firmly) - With any luck we'll be able to do the job! Just remember when the time comes to move fast.
  • Newkirk - I'd like to start movin' now, if you don't mind - in the opposite direction.

Feldkamp briefs Klink on his presence at the wreck site.

  • Klink (smiling but trying to protest) - I can handle this responsibility myself.
  • Feldkamp (pacing while talking) - The Gestapo has its orders, and anyone who interferes with us can find the results very "chilling". (sternly) I expect your full cooperation, colonel.
  • Klink (brave front) - I will be very chilling -- I mean, very cooperative.

... and later ...

  • Feldkamp - Here is Dr. Becker's file. You will familiarize yourself with it. Find out everything you can about him.

(Klink takes the file, begins glancing at it)

  • Klink - I understand! So I can talk to him intelligently. (laughs)
  • Feldkamp - Ja, so you can talk to him-- (starts, then sighs) Well, who knows?

Hogan tries to convince Dr. Becker to visit the POW's casino

  • Hogan - You didn't make Colonel Klink very happy.
  • Feldkamp (curtly) - ANYTHING makes Colonel Klink happy.
  • Hogan - He asked me to invite you, Doctor.
  • Becker - Ahh! Danke schön!
  • Feldkamp (sternly) - That is impossible! Tell Klink to mind his own business. That is one of the many things he does NOT do very well.
  • Hogan - They're having a big time over there at Monte Carlo ... (ed - the casino)
  • Becker (excitedly) - Monte Carlo!
  • Hogan - Roulette, blackjack, poker ....
  • Becker (still excited) - A lot of action, ja?
  • Hogan - Ja. The house is on a losing streak.
  • Feldkamp (standing) - That is enough, Hogan! You are dismissed.
  • Becker (also standing) - Oh, but just one moment, major! Lets see ... the plane picks me up at ten, a few minutes to the airport ... oh! I could spend one hour! (looks at Feldkamp) It might be amusing.
  • Feldkamp (firmly) - I do not think it would be advisable!
  • Becker (frowns at him) - Oh, of course you don't! (to Hogan) The house IS losing, right?
  • Hogan - But it could start winning at any time.
  • Becker - Oh! Then let us go quickly! I do feel lucky tonight!

Amid the confusion of the darkened, smoke-filled casino ....

  • Hogan (finds Becker) - Dr. Becker, are you all right?

(From behind, Kinch karate chops Becker on the nape of his neck. Becker goes out like a light. The two POWs guide his fall under the table, where Carter and Newkirk are waiting. Newkirk immediately begins working to unlock the man's briefcase)

  • Carter - He's sleeping like a baby!
  • Newkirk - Kinch?
  • Kinch - Yeah.
  • Newkirk - If he wakes up and starts cryin', hit him again.

Schultz hands Hogan the winnings from the casino. Hogan watches from beside him.

  • Schultz (proudly) - Eight hundred and ninety-four marks!
  • Klink - Thank you, Schultz!
  • Hogan - Correction, please ...

(Hogan pulls a bill hidden in Schultz's coat sleeve)

  • Hogan (continuing) - ... eight hundred and ninety-five marks.
  • Klink - How dare you!
  • Schultz (innocently) - How did that get in there?
  • Klink (sternly) - This money was for the Winter Relief fund! Schultz, I'm ashamed of you.
  • Schultz - It must have gotten stuck in my sleeve.
  • Hogan - Static electricity. That's how some of the world's great fortunes got started.

... and later, after Hogan catches Klink trying to pocket some of the winnings ...

  • Hogan - Between you and Schultz, I'm surprised you haven't stolen World War II.
  • Klink - It's perfectly legitimate! I put in a lot of time, and that's worth something. My expert knowledge as chairman! So, I will keep the 200 marks for my expenses.
  • Hogan - Ahh, take my advice, commandant. Send it ALL to Berlin, or else.

(Klink is startled, then jumps up out of his chair. He stares at Hogan, both angry and fearful at the same time. His is the look of the thief caught in the act.)

  • Klink - Or else what?!
  • Hogan - You're going to be the only officer facing a Russian tank with an expense account.

Bloopers Edit

  • When the American bombers are flying over Stalag 13, they are unmistakably B-17 Flying Fortresses, which were long-range heavy bombers. The wreck of the plane outside the camp is a B-25 Mitchell medium bomber. It may have been standing in for the larger B-24 Liberator heavy bomber, since both were twin-tailed bombers and they resemble each other, despite differences in size and number of engines. The B-24 had four engines, while the smaller B-25 only had two.
  • While Kinchloe is spying on the Germans from below the false chimney, smoke oozes from the chimney anyway. This is probably deliberate, though, so as to hide the fact that it is a false chimney.

External links Edit


Previous episode:
The Big Picture
Next episode:
The Defector

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