|Episode:||The Softer They Fall|
|Original Airdate:||January 23, 1970|
|Written by:||Laurence Marks|
|Directed by:||Richard Kinon|
|Produced by:||Edward H. Feldman, William A. Calihan & Jerry London|
- Colonel Hogan - Bob Crane
- Corporal Louis LeBeau - Robert Clary
- Corporal Peter Newkirk - Richard Dawson
- Sergeant James Kinchloe - Ivan Dixon
- Sergeant Andrew Carter - Larry Hovis
Camp Personnel Edit
Guest Stars Edit
- Major Rudel - John Stephenson
- "Battling" Bruno - Chuck Hicks
- Captain Staht - Ralph Medina
- First Corporal - James Savett
Plot Details Edit
Hogan and Kinch are in Klink's office, with Schultz as guard. Klink is extolling to them the boxing virtues of one of the camp guards, a private named Bruno - or "Battling Bruno," as Klink calls him. It seems that Bruno has been representing Stalag 13 in the area Luftwaffe boxing championship. Klink is aware that Kinch once fought as a boxer, and asks his opinion of Bruno. Kinch's opinion is brutally frank. "His footwork's lousy, he can't counterpunch, his timing stinks, and he doesn't breath properly ... [but] he's got a nice smile." Klink promptly orders Kinch to be Bruno's sparring partner, in order to increase his chances for the Luftwaffe championship -- the final bout of which is to be fought on the 31st. Hogan promptly protests, but Klink is adamant. Hogan relents for some "extra considerations" for his men - extra food rations, and so forth - and Kinch agrees to the bargain. Bruno now has himself a real boxer to spar with. Just then they are interrupted by a call from Burkhalter, the subject of which is top secret. Klink has Schultz escort Hogan and Kinch out before taking the call. Before the trio leave, though, they overhear Klink receiving orders to prepare for the arrival of Captain Stahl and Major Rudel that evening, who will be coming with Burkhalter.
Some hours later, Carter slips into Klink's offices, disguised as a camp officer. Corporal Langenschiedt is standing guard at the door of Klink's inner office, making sure no one interrupts the meeting between Klink and his guests. Carter bamboozles Langenscheidt into taking guard outside the building, then slips into a hidden cupboard behind the filing cabinets. It is connected to the back of the picture of SS Reichsfuhrer Heinrich Himmler in Klink's inner office. Just as in a classic detective movie, the eyes disappear in Himmler's picture, and Carter's eyes take their place, as he watches and listens to the secret meeting. Burkhalter is just then explaining that Stahl and Rudel are on the Luftwaffe High Command Planning Staff. Their presence at Stalag 13 is due to a delicate internal matter. The RAF's network of radar stations is making it difficult for the Luftwaffe to continue its agressive campaing in the Battle of Britian. Stahl and Rudel have worked up a plan to knock them out, involving ground sabotage combined with Stuka attacks. Luftwaffe High Command is skeptical and will not hear them out, so Burkhalter plans to do an end run around them and personally convey their written plans to the Fuhrer. They will be staying incognito at Stalag 13 for about a week in order to formalize and write down their plan. Carter is amazed to hear that the plan will contain a detailed list of German agents in England capable of carrying out the sabotage, as well as one of airfields and Luftwaffe squadrons available to carry it out. Klink is glad to provide them all the privacy they need - provided, of course, they put in a plug for him with Reichsmarshall Goring in Berlin.
"And they're going to be working in the VIP quarters," Carter tells Hogan and his fellows, after returning to Barracks 2 and doffing his disguise. Hogan is excited at the prospect of such an intelligence scoop "within sight of our tunnel." All he needs to do is figure out how to draw away the guards that Klink will undoubtedly post around the building, then 10-15 minutes with a camera and they'll be done. "Maybe we can invite them to come over and watch Battling Bruno train," Kinch says, in an uncharacteristically sarcastic mood. Both Carter and LeBeau doubt it will work, and Carter even goes so far as to say that "your average Nazi just isn't a boxing fan." Hogan interrupts him. "They might not want to watch training," he says to them all, "but a REAL fight ...." He asks Kinch if he could knock Bruno out. "The problem isn't laying him out," Kinch says confidently, "the problem will be keeping him on his feet." Hogan smiles at this, his nimble mind already at work ....
The next afternoon, an agitated Hogan runs over to see Klink, who is just leaving the VIP quarters with Burkhalter. Behind them, stacks of top-secret papers are being carried inside for Stahl and Rudel to consult in developing their plan. Hogan asks Klink to come and intervene in the rec hall, saying that Bruno is giving Kinch a hard time during training. This piques Burkhalter's interests, and he follows them to the training area. As the Germans watch, Kinch suddenly socks Bruno with a hard right, and the German drops unconscious to the floor of the ring. "Foul!" Klink screams, but Burkhalter is even more incensed. Having a non-Aryan, and especially one of the inferior Negro races knock out a German soldier is beyond the pale. Burkhalter reminds Klink of the 1936 Olympics, when African-American Jessie Owens humiliated his German competition, causing the Fuhrer to leave the arena every time he was awarded a gold medal. "We must even up the score!" he yells at Klink. "We must let it be known that a German can beat an American at anything!! Klink! Arrange a fight between your champion here and Sergeant Kinchloe - and Klink, Bruno MUST WIN!!! That's an order." He also orders Klink to do whatever it takes to assure victory, even cheating - or both he and Private Bruno will be headed straight for Stalingrad.
Meanwhile, Hogan and the Unsung Heroes swing into action to get access to the top secret papers being stored in the VIP quarters. Carter volunteers to announce the fight for German radio, due to his excellent command of German (implied - see Bloopers), and even serves as Kinch's sparring partner for a time. LeBeau, Newkirk, and the Barracks 3 gang set up a series of loudspeakers all around the camp, so that the guards manning the wire, the towers, and (most importantly) the ones stationed at the VIP quarters can enjoy the fight without having to leave their posts. As Kinch continues to prepare, Hogan instructs him to make the fight last at least six rounds, in order for them to have enough time for LeBeau to photograph all the papers. The Germans aren't idle, either - with poor Schultz being assigned to help Bruno train for the fight As for Klink, he procures a set of brass knuckles (or more accurately, a pair of heavy steel clamps shaped like them) for Bruno to hide inside his gloves. Bruno's orders are to knock Kinch out in the first round. When Schultz protests the attempt to cheat, Klink threatens to have him demoted to private if he doesn't shut his mouth.
Not long after the Luftwaffe boxing championship (which Bruno won, by the way), a special bout is staged at Stalag 13 between Bruno and Kinch. Many of the area German brass are present to watch, and even Stahl and Rudel are present with ringside seats - courtesy of Hogan's planning, that is. Hogan's plan seems to be going like clockwork, as the fight begins and Carter deliberately turns the volume DOWN on the loudspeakers near the VIP suite. As expected, the guards leave their posts in order to better hear the fight, and LeBeau uses the opportunity to sneak inside and start taking pictures of the papers. Then, unexpectedly, Bruno lands a lucky punch on Kinch. The American sergeant is almost floored, and only quick action on the part of Newkirk saves him from being counted out. Klink's cheating is thus exposed, but the Unsung Heroes are too far along to back out now. Hogan tells Kinch to "get on your bicycle" - that is, use his superior footwork and boxing skills to stay out of Bruno's reach as long as he can. The dazed Kinch agrees, but warns that he can't deal with too many more of Bruno's loaded punches. Thus, the fight drags on - far longer than the Germans watching had expected. Once or twice Bruno manages glancing blows on Kinch, but even with his loaded gloves they are not enough to knock him out. As soon as LeBeau returns to ringside, signalling that he has the pictures, Hogan gives the signal. Kinch suddenly comes back to life and knocks Bruno out. At the same time Hogan jumps into the ring and throws in the towel. Klink proudly proclaims Bruno the winner ... and Newkirk groans about all the money he lost betting on Kinch in the camp gambling pool.
Later, in Klink's office, Hogan and Klink are given a friendly lecture by Burkhalter on the superiority of the German master race. As for his prime example, well ... the big German is still unconscious from Kinch's last punch, and he's not expected to awaken "for a day or so," according to Hogan.
Story Notes Edit
- This is the one hundred and thirty-seventh episode of the series, but is the one hundred and thirty-sixth episode shown on television and the eighteenth episode shown for the Fifth Season.
- The episodes title is loosely based on the phrase "The bigger they are, the harder they fall."
- This is the third episode in production order of the three episodes that most prominently feature Kinch. The other two are The Prince from the Phone Company and Is General Hammerschlag Burning?
- Private Broughton of the Barracks 3 gang assists in Kinch's corner along with Newkirk during the fight.
- The referee for the fight is Oberleutnant Herman Schmeltzer, 4th Panzer Brigade (Carter later "serves" in the 4th during One Army at a Time). He is also president of the Düsseldorf Athletic Club. An old guy, about as old as Klink or Schultz! He's also wearing cavalry breeches, which you don't see often during the show (Klink wears them at least once, in To Russia Without Love).
- Sign translations:
- Luffstalag Box Wettkampf - "Air Prisoner-of-war Camp Boxing Contest"
- der Sieger - "the Victor"
- Wasser - "Water"
- dieses zu - "This Too"
- Rauschen Strengstens Verboten - Rustle Absolutely Forbidden
- (Definitely just an error in translation - it either means "No Disturbances" or should read Rauchen strengstens verboten - "Smoking absolutely forbidden")
Background Trivia Edit
- An indirect reference is made by Burkhalter to the Chain Home radar stations that helped the RAF win the Battle of Britain in 1940.
- In the episode, Burkhalter alludes to an American's (famed Jesse Owens) defeat of a German in the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin. This was a huge black eye for Germany in Hitler's estimation.
- Newkirk mentions Max Schmeling, a German fighter who was the heavyweight boxing champion of the world between 1930 and 1932.
- Corporal Langenscheidt makes a brief appearance in this episode, although he is not named as such. He is the guard stationed at the inner door of Klink's office during Burhalter's initial visit - the one that Carter bamboozles into leaving. In the episode credits he is listed as "Second Corporal."
- Captain Staht (Lev Mailer, credited as Ralph Medina) appears to have a false right arm. His right hand is covered by a glove, and is never seen moving.
- If you'll look directly below the Nazi flag hanging in the rec hall during Kinch and Bruno's fight, you can get a good look at a certain older German soldier with ginger-colored hair. He is the unnamed (and uncredited) clerk that is often seen working in Klink's outer office whenever Helga or Hilda are not present.
- The Marquess of Queensberry rules for regulation boxing are so named for the English gentleman who endorsed them in the mid-1860s. They are widely accepted worldwide for practically all official amateur and professional boxing matches. Among other things, they require gloves for the combatants, established both the three-minute round and the 10-count for a fallen fighter, and set a regulation size (24 feet) for the ring.
- In certain shots during the fight (such as the beginning of Round 2), a stunt double fills in for Ivan Dixon. If one looks closely, it becomes obvious this double is wearing a wig, and does not have the same build.
Timeline Notes and Speculations Edit
- This is the eighteenth episode in chronological order, per the series timeline. It follows That's No Lady, That's My Spy and is in turn followed by Never Play Cards With Strangers.
- This episode appears to take place in late December of 1942, beginning at some point prior to the Luftwaffe boxing championship on the 31st. Both Klink and Burkhalter make mention of the ongoing fighting at Stalingrad. We know the episode ends after the 31st - during the first week of January, 1943 - because Bruno is introduced as the Luftwaffe champion at the start of his official fight with Kinch.
- Klink makes an indirect reference to having past combat experience in bombing attacks (see timeline notes for How's the Weather?).
- Kinchloe: Yes sir. We watched him.
- Klink: Just what do you think of him as a fighter, huh?
- Kinchloe: Well, his footwork's lousy, he can't counter punch, his timing stinks, and he doesn't breathe properly.
- Hogan: But you like him as a person.
- Kinchloe: He has a nice smile.
General Burkhalter calls Klink, who answers the phone
- Klink (on phone) - Ahh! Oh, ho, General Burkhalter! How very nice to hear from you! What's that, sir? Yes, sir, shut up and listen.
Burkhalter watches as Klink's men prepared the VIP quarters for Stahl and Rudel
- Klink - Sir, you don't have to worry about security.
- Burkhalter (evenly) - I don't worry about security. It's you and Schultz that keep me on edge.
Burkhalter, on Stalag 13 camp guard "Battling Bruno"
- Burkhalter - A killer? I'm glad someone around here is dangerous.
... and later ...
- Klink (watching Bruno) - There he is, general! A great example of a fighting man in action. What a specimen!
- Burkhalter (watching Kinch) - Ja ... I wish he was one of ours.
- Klink (exasperated) - I meant Battling Bruno, not the prisoner.
Klink orders Bruno to win in his revenge match against Kinch.
- Klink (to Bruno, glaring) - You knock him [Kinch] out or you'll be fighting a Russian bear for the Stalingrad championship.
- Burkhalter (over Klink's shoulder) - And guess who will be in your corner?! Shivering?!!
Hogan and his men are playing horseshoes. Klink walks up to talk to Hogan.
- Hogan - You mean a real fight? Real gloves, no headgear?
- Klink - That's right! Marquess of Queensbury rules.
- Newkirk - He was one of our chaps, you know.
- Hogan - It depends on what Kinch says.
- Kinch (faking concern) - Sparring partner is one thing, but fighting that killer ... I don't know.
- Klink (surprised) - You knocked him out!
- Kinch - A lucky shot, Kommandant.
- Hogan - Yeah, lucky. I saw the whole thing.
- Klink (seizing on the comment) - I, ahm, believe I detect a note of fear.
- LeBeau - Colonel, we've been together a long time. I don't want to see Kinch hurt.
- Newkirk - Right. That Bruno's a smasher. He puts me in the mind of Max Schmelling.
- Carter - Sir, request permission to speak.
- Kinch - Sic 'em, Andrew.
- Carter - Well, sir, as you know an officer's duty is to protect his men. Now if you let Kinch fight that brute--
- Hogan (interrupting) - I won't order Kinch to fight Bruno. I can't ... but, well, if he doesn't accept the challenge, I'd just hate the idea of commanding Hogan's Cowards.
- Newkirk - Has a nice sound to it. I kinda like it! Hogan's Cowards ....
Schultz talks to Hogan and his men as they set up the loudspeakers.
- Carter - He [Klink] was looking for you, big fella.
- Schultz - I was in the kitchen.
- Hogan - Grazing on liverwurst again?
- Schultz (indignantly) - Official business!
- Hogan - Schultz, it's about time you got out of the kitchen and into the war.
Burkhalter, praising Klink on the loudspeaker setup for the fight.
- Burkhalter - Good thinking! Is it possible that I've been underestimating you all these years, Klink? (stares at the smirking Klink for a long while). No, it's not possible.
Newkirk and Hogan watch from Kinch's corner as Klink introduces the officials for the fight.
- Newkirk (snidely) - All Nazi judges and a Kraut referee.
- Hogan (smiling) - Has all the makings of a fair fight.
- Staht and Rudel's plan to deal with the British radar stations is actually rather ludicrous, if you know your World War II history - but, to be honest, no more so than some of the other operational exercise plans concocted by the German military during the war. In actual history, the performance of the Stuka during the early phases of the Battle of Britian (1941) was so bad that it was quickly withdrawn from the combat area. It was a dive bomber, not designed for long-range penetration missions, and ended up being little more than a flying clay pigeon for the faster and more maneuverable British fighters. The producers may have named the Stuka because it is one of the most recognizable German bombers from World War II, and thus easily identified by viewers.
- Carter does the ringside announcing for German radio - but in English, not German (a concession for the show's intended English-speaking audience).
- At the beginning of the match, the master shot shows LeBeau already exiting the rec hall, however in subsequent tighter shots, we see Hogan giving him the signal to slip away, which he does, and not before checking to see that everyone is preoccupied with the fight.
- The Softer They Fall at TV.com
- The Softer They Fall at the Internet Movie Database
- The Softer They Fall episode capsule at Webstalag 13
- Hogan's Heroes Fanclub
- The Hofbrau
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