Sunday, August 1, 2010

Kraft Suspense Theatre; Action of the Tiger; Telly Savalas; Peter Brown; Ulla Jacobsson; Paul Comi; King Henry V

Click here for the previous episode review.

Season #1, Episode #16

The Action of the Tiger

Original Air Date - February 20, 1964

Setting/Time - World War II in Europe, both occupied and allied territory. This is the second KST episode set in World War II.


An American bomber copilot is sent back into action over Europe shortly after being shot down. You see stock footage of air battles interspersed well with film of the main character in his cockpit. The battle scene seemed realistic to me (given that I have no experience in such things).

The main character is shot down again and becomes a German POW. Once in his POW camp, he is recruited (because he can speak French) by fellow prisoners in an escape attempt that is designed to provide vital information to the allies. The majority of the plot involves the pilot making his way across occupied Europe to the point where he can meet a boat to take him back to England. Most of the suspense results from his attempts to elude German authorities at a train station, on the train and in a nearby town.

He does not know who he can trust. He must stay in character and remember details of his invented life to avoid suspicion. Most of all, he must not show fear. The story managed to incorporate each of those elements into the story, as he was forced to interact with other passengers, railroad employees and security personnel along the way.

He confides to another traveler that every choice he has ever made was, in fact, made by someone else. From his choice of college and fraternity to his military career to this very mission, he has always let others make his choices for him. This exposition adds some depth to his character, but the plot might have been better had this factor played a larger role instead of being a matter simply for that particular discussion.

This episode is discussed in more detail at the Peter Brown website. That site contains many plot spoilers so do not go there if you hope to see this episode for the first time. That site summarizes the episode as follows:
A good war drama even for those who don't like the war genre -- no blood, some newsreel footage of air battles, mostly a psychological study of a man finding his courage.

I agree with that characterization. The pictures below are from that website.

The easy comparison with "Action of the Tiger" is Hogan's Heroes. While Hogan was only a "comedy," the comparison remains valid. "Action" shows how bad Hogan's Heroes was and how good it could have been. Just because a show is labelled a "comedy," does not mean it has to abandon plot and believability.

The title is part of a Shakespearean quote from King Henry V. The full quote appears onscreen at the end.


This is the first of two KST episodes to contain the word "Tiger" in the title - both of which starred Peter Brown. Numerous KST episodes can be paired together by virtue of their confusingly similar titles.


Peter Brown plays the American flyer and lead character. This was the first of his two KST episodes. His 50 + year career continues in 2010. He has played regular and guest roles on numerous television programs throughout that time. I recall him from an episode of the Bob Newhart Show in the 1970's. He played a regular role on Laredo in the mid-1960's.

Peter Brown as the copilot in the opening battle scene

Telly Savalas played a fellow passenger that befriends, helps and advises Brown's character. His most famous role, of course, came in the long running detective show Kojak in the 1970's. This was the first of his two KST episodes.

Telly Savalas advising Peter Brown's character

Ulla Jacobsson played a passenger that befriended Brown's character on the train while providing cause for him to fear exposure and capture. Jacobsson was a Swedish actress most famous for movie roles in the 1950's and 1960's.

Ulla Jacobsson tries to learn more about Peter Brown's cover story.

Cars - There were no vehicles except for the aircraft in the air battle and military vehicles on the ground. I do not remember what type of airplane they were supposed to be flying.

Star Trek Connection -

This episode's Star Trek connection is Paul Comi, who played one of the POWs who helped hatch the escape plot. Comi is probably most well-known for playing Lt. Stiles in Star Trek's "Balance of Terror."

He guested in other series where he was part of a multiple-Star Trek guest cast. He previously played in The Twilight Zone episode "People Are Alike All Over" (with KST's Roddy McDowell) in an episode that featured three other Star Trek actors (including future KST actor Bryon Morrow) and that was rumored to have been the inspiration for Star Trek's original pilot. I remember him also for his role in a Time Tunnel episode that featured two other guest stars from Star Trek (along with the 2 series regulars that also guested on Star Trek). [As complicated as all of that sounds, I do not want to explain further for fear of turning this site into a Twilight Zone/Star Trek/Time Tunnel site.]