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Sgt. Saunders Thompson


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#21 gijive

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 04:36 PM

QUOTE (Eagle3 @ Jan 6 2006, 04:03 PM)
So am I safe to assume he used one of the 21's or a Stembridge gun.  I also mentioned on one of the episodes a closeup shows a rivited extractor, this of course could have been a replacement. 

I will not give up my quest until the correct answer is found.

Eagle 3,

Yes, as shown in the closeup I posted earlier one of the blank firing guns was a Colt Model of 1921. Certainly this could have been one of the two MGM Colt guns, however, the barrel has the trademark flattened fins near the front, which was a unique feature on the Stembridge guns. Many publicity stills from the 1940's, 1950's and '60's showing Thompsons, have this peculiar feature. If I am not mistaken, the publicity stills from Sahara also show this feature. I have viewed a DVD of Objective Burma, made in the 1940's and "freeze-framed" many shots showing the flattened barrel fins on these guns also. According to employees of Stembridge, this feature was unique to their guns.

Another feature common on Stembridge guns was the one-piece compensator with the wide open mouth. This compensator is seen on the pictures I posted and is consistent with the gun used in the blank firing scenes on the first three seasons of Combat. If you ever watched The Untouchables, these "open mouth" compensators were used frequently and the guns were from Stembridge. These records have already been documented by Gordon Herigstad.

During the 4th and 5th Seasons of Combat sometimes a different blank firing gun was used with a real compensator and normal size opening. The restrictor on this gun was hidden father in the compensator.

I have other shots of Vic Morrow holding this gun that show the ejector is a flat style Colt type. In another photo he is posing with a different gun that has a regular compensator and was probaly the one he carried in the non-firing scenes.

I'll post more pictures when I get time.

Here are some pictures from the sequence clearly showing the open end compensator, the flat ejector and the second gun with the regular compensator. This gun is probably a 1928A1 Savage or AO and more than likely has no firing pin in it for the shots where no firing takes place. Notice the gun in the last picture appears to have an adjustable Lyman sight, indicating it is not one of the two 1928A1 Models shown in Earl's catalogue, they have Lyman fixed "L" sights. These pictures were taken during the 4th Season of Combat.

I have a friend that regularly talks to Pierre Jalbert, who before Combat worked for years as a film editor at MGM. I'll have him ask Pierre if he remembers if the Thompsons used were from Stembridge or MGM. If he doesn't remember, then I'll have him also speak with George Fenady, who was a director in the later seasons of Combat. My friend says George is pretty sharp and remembers lots of details about the show and locations. We'll get an answer to these vexing questions for you. cool.gif

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#22 Remo Williams

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 08:14 PM

That Reising/MP40 also showed up in my favorite episode "Anatomy of a Patrol" with James Caan. Caan carries the Reising/MP40, but shoots an authentic MP40 in the fighting scenes.

I read somewhere that some episodes had to make due with whatever guns were left over in stock, because during some episodes some guns were rented out. IE.. The Use of the M2 Brownings in "Hills are for Heroes" instead of MG34/MG42's. wink.gif

Also check out Anzio, the German's in the Haystacks are shooting BAR's.

Edited by Remo Williams, 06 January 2006 - 08:17 PM.

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#23 Eagle3

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 09:35 PM

gijive,

Thank you for the EXCELLENT photos. I will now watch episodes of Combat with new found appreciation for what went on behind the scenes.

I assume Cage (Pierre) Kirby (Jack) and Doc are still alive. I am aware that Little John, Sarge and Lt. hanley have left on their last patrol. What about Billy from the earlier episodes?

Also, a question for Arthur. In your reply you mention Chip/Vic. Was that his nickname, and did you know him personally?
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#24 gijive

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 10:00 PM

QUOTE (Eagle3 @ Jan 6 2006, 09:35 PM)
I assume Cage (Pierre)  Kirby (Jack) and Doc  are still alive. I am aware that Little John, Sarge and Lt. hanley have left on their last patrol.  What about Billy from the earlier episodes?


Eagle3,

Yes, the cast members you mention are still alive, including Billy (Tom Lowell - Stage name; Lowell Thomas - Real name).

You're welcome for the pictures. I'll post the responses about the Stembridge guns when I get the answers.
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#25 Waffen Und Bier

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Posted 06 January 2006 - 11:28 PM

I always liked that show. Got Jo's book a few years back. Pretty neat trivia. Sad to see what happened to many of those actors. Rat Patrol was cool, too.
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#26 Hawkeye_Joe

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 12:25 AM

I also noticed that Saunders always has his sling installed backwards and made to be as long as it possibly can be on all the different Tommys..
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#27 Eagle3

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 10:34 AM

Ron and Waffen refer to Jo's book, care to inform me. What book? And where can I get it?
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#28 Roland, Headless Thompson Gunner

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 10:51 AM

I've had my TIVO recording 2 hours of Combat every night for the last month or two. I really hadn't seen it much since the 60's. Amazing how you can still remember an episode after 40 years. They did often stretch a half hour plot into an hour show with a lot of walking and then Hanley rolls up in his jeep at the end and tells them to move out. Couldn't he give them a ride just once?

And I had forgotten what great shots Sarge and Kirby were. They never have to use their sights. Though in a recent episode Sarge is in a basement and shoots a kraut and then proceeds to knock off every bottle in the wine rack (with the THompson that is). Kirby has that around the corner shot with the BAR down pat. And of course the guys with the Garands never run the risk of getting a Garand thumb.

Still the best show every made though!


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#29 colt21a

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 11:19 AM

QUOTE (Ron Mills @ Jan 7 2006, 09:02 AM)
PS: Didn't Curtis Earl have the knife that killed Ceasar...wink!

ron i must tell you this. alot has been said about ole curt earl.however the guy did have a ton of stuff.and hard to match today at current price's.alot of collection's in the last ten year's cost over three time's what they used to.

and the last two year's....some guy's are proud to have ten n.f.a.item's...let alone 400 plus.

i was there in his heyday when he had over 600 plus item's.then when the bunker was built he had more.actually a above ground vault... t.c.ron
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#30 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 12:31 PM

Ronald,
I was in that vault back in 90. Even with a few beers in his gut he wouldn't soften his prices. Sure he had collected every conceivable mg, but these weapons spoke for themselves, he didn't need the P.T. Barnum hyperbole to help them find a new home.

But no matter what the NFA prices were at the time for any given weapon, Earl was at least double the going rate. Today, I imagine that his business practices would be the same. He would be selling Colt TSMG's for $70K. He always thought it was 1970, when he was the only game in town. By the 1990's, Earl dismissed what other dealers and private parties were selling their NFA items for. He figured if his name were attached to the provenance of a machine gun then it necessitated the premium prices.

The irony is today that any NFA item that has him in the chain of ownership is suspect as to its components. His legacy as a charlatan has overshadowed his mg collecting prowess.

Eagle3,
"Chip" was Sgt. Saunders Christian name in the show.

Chuck,
You must have been in on Jo's book from the outset. It was strange that a female was the only author interested in putting together a TV companion book 30 years after the show ended. She really relied on your photo collection to complete her book.

Too bad that LA jury acquitted John Landis for killing Vic. Even when the star is the victim, they still let the perp walk.

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#31 Ron Mills

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 02:02 PM

O Respected One: No disrespect meant to ol' Curt. He just had some colorful descriptions of pieces sometimes. He did invite me to his place years ago, and I never did go. Should have. I should've done a lot of things...
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#32 gijive

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 02:29 PM

QUOTE (Arthur Fliegenheimer @ Jan 7 2006, 12:31 PM)

Chuck,
You must have been in on Jo's book from the outset.  It was strange that a female was the only author interested in putting together a TV companion book 30 years after the show ended.  She really relied on your photo collection to complete her book.

Too bad that LA jury acquitted John Landis for killing Vic.  Even when the star is the victim, they still let the perp walk.

Arthur,

Yeah, I used to speak with Jo a lot during the time she was getting ready to publish her book. Haven't spoken with her much lately, but used to keep in touch fairly often. Nice lady, she was very dedicated to the Combat show several years ago. I believe she has some other interests/projects now, but still keeps the Combat website up.

I agree with your assessment regarding the Landis incident.

Eagle 3,

Okay, here are the latest updates on the MGM vs. Stembridge discussion. I spoke with my friend Marty Black this morning regarding the issue. Marty is an airline pilot that flies all over the world seeking WWII artifacts and visiting WWII battle sites to compare before and after photographs. He is friends with the publisher of an English publication titled "After the Battle" which compares former battle sites with how they look today. Some WWII buffs in the group may be familiar with the magazine.

Marty is also a Combat fanatic and is one of the original founders of a small group of Combat location and trivia fans that call themselves the "COI's" (Combat Obsessed Idiots). He is a WWII buff, writes articles, belongs to M1 Carbine and Garand gun collection clubs and has throroughly explored every location in California where Combat was filmed over the past ten years. He has hundreds of blank casings from the various Combat filming sites (primarily Franklin Canyon Reservoir) and has visited Stembridge Gun Rental, along with Pierre Jalbert, and spoken personally with Syd Stembridge and Mike Papac.

Marty and Pierre had lunch with former associate producer and director of Combat, George Fenady in L.A. about a month ago. Coincidentally, he asked the very questions of George Fenady that we are discussing. Pierre Jalbert's memory is vague about such details, but George Fenady stated all the firearms on Combat came from Stembridge Gun Rentals.

Marty also reminded me that Rick Jason, who was also a gun enthusiast, told him in 1998 that all the guns came from Stembridge.

Syd Stembridge, although he was only a youngster at the time, remembers that his families business also provided the guns on Combat.

Marty gave me Syd's number and I will call him this week. I doubt that he will be able to provide any further information, but I will report the findings if anyone is still interested in this topic. Marty flies to L.A. quite frequently and is always looking for a Combat related research project during his spare time. He offered to look through the old Stembridge records, if he is allowed to, and try to come up with some serial number information on the Thompsons used. I'm not sure when he will have time to do this, but he'll get around to it sometime this year, hopefully.

In the meantime, here are some more images of the same type of movie Thompson from the film Sahara, filmed around 1943. Notice the same style compensator and flattend barrel fins as the previous pictures with Vic Morrow.

Who knows, might even be the same gun. cool.gif

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One more photo of the flattened barel fins common to the Stembridge guns.

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#33 Eagle3

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 03:23 PM

gijive,

Once again a hearty THANK YOU for your informative pictures and replies. I have learned more about the inner workings of Combat in the last two days than what I have known for the past 40+ years. I now have become a bonifide "COI". If you run across any other information or pics about Combat or Stembridge please post them.

Arthur, thank you for clearing up my question.

I still need info on what you are referring to when you mention "Jo's book".
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#34 Hawkeye_Joe

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 03:39 PM

QUOTE
Kirby has that around the corner shot with the BAR down pat


Yeah .. but he tried it with an M1 and a rifle grenade in that episode I just watched and missed the MG nest in the upper story window by three feet.... laugh.gif He had to go in and clean the building by hand, I mean BAR, then..

One thing about the FX people in COMBAT they did a great job....that grenade hit just to the right of a pillar next to the window (you could see the flight of the nade) and the front of the pillar blew off not even a foot away. So maybe Kirby was pretty damn good at shooting around corners afterall..... dry.gif
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#35 Arthur Fliegenheimer

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 05:32 PM

Go Chuck! Go!

This is like when you swung in on a knotted rope with definitive info on the Maguire deal to Willis thread, as reported to you personally by Helmer.

When the Stenbridge VS MGM TSMG provider for "Combat" is settled it will really give owners of an Earl purchased and sold TSMG a moment to craft some colorful metaphors whenever they look at his name on a ATF form.

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#36 gijive

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 07:50 PM

QUOTE (Eagle3 @ Jan 7 2006, 03:23 PM)
I still need info on what  you are referring to when you mention "Jo's book".

Eagle 3,

The book is titled "Combat - A Viewers Companion." The original is out of print, but may ocassionally turn up on Internet auction sites. A second version was released a couple of years ago and is an expanded version of the first book. I don't know if this is readily available or not. The author is Jo Davidsmeyer. Try Amazon or some other Internet book seller.
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#37 gijive

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Posted 07 January 2006 - 08:21 PM

QUOTE (Eagle3 @ Jan 6 2006, 04:03 PM)
I agree that some of the guns on Combat could have come from the Stembridge collection.  But as stated by a forum member, MGM did not have a hand in the production, but the Reising/MP-40's from Earl's MGM collection were used on the show.  So why not the Thompsons? 

Eagle 3,

The explanation for this question is pretty simple. Combat's production team did use MGM's extensive wardrobe and prop department to costume the actors for the show. This was all done on a rental basis, since this was not an MGM production. As some sharp-eyed Board members have already pointed out, the fake MP-40 made from a Reising submachine gun was only used during non-firing scenes. When the actors fired the blank firing weapons, a working MP-40 was used. According to the aforementioned people connected with the production of the show, all the working submachine guns came from Stembridge Gun Rentals.

Whether this was an insurance issue, or whether MGM was unable or reluctant to provide "gun wranglers" (movie term) for their stock of working NFA weapons is anybody's guess. Stembridge, however, was in the business and insured to provide working NFA weapons for the television and movie industry. During the time Combat was filmed, MGM was renting out its studio to independant productions. Many 1960 television shows were filmed on MGM's expansive back lots, i.e. Twilight Zone, Man Fron Uncle, etc.

I hope this clarifies why some MGM prop items may have made an apperance on the show.

It also just occurred to me that at the time J. Curtis Earl purchased the MGM guns in the early 1970's, MGM was in financial difficulties and the guns may have been dewatted, possibly, if they hadn't kept any current ATF Licenses to possess the guns. I think dewats were still okay in California during that time frame. Maybe Earl had the guns rewatted after he purchased them strictly for resale purposes. Who knows what he had done to them. At the time he purchased them they should have been blank firing guns. MGM wouldn't have had live fire guns for movie purposes. If they were live fire at the time Earl sold them, then they had to have been reconverted, by him.


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#38 Hawkeye_Joe

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 01:31 AM

Combat book

Combat Companion Book 1st edition

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Combat Companion Book Paperback (Revised)

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#39 Mike Hammer

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 07:19 AM

gijive: many thanks for your legwork for adding info on this subject. I'm sure you must realize that many Thompson owners and many board members here, became facinated and developed an admiration for the TSMG by watching COMBAT when they were growing up, (The Untouchables too!). I hope definitive answers regarding the guns used can once and for all be known. Great shots of Bogy from Sahara, I was wondering what kind of software are you using to capture those frames? I'd sure be interested in getting a copy to install and use? unsure.gif

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#40 gijive

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Posted 08 January 2006 - 08:48 AM

QUOTE (Mike Hammer @ Jan 8 2006, 07:19 AM)
I'm sure you must realize that  many Thompson owners and many board members here, became fascinated and developed an admiration for the TSMG by watching COMBAT when they were growing up, (The Untouchables too!). I hope definitive answers regarding the guns used can once and for all be known. Great shots of Bogy from Sahara, I was wondering what kind of software are you using to capture those frames? I'd sure be interested in getting a copy to install and use?

Mike,

I too, developed my fascination with the Thompson by watching the shows you mention.

The capture software is called PowerDVD by Cyberlink. I have version 5, there are probably newer versions available out now.
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