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Parachute Battalion

USA 1941
produced by
Howard Benedict for RKO
directed by Leslie Goodwins
starring Robert Preston, Nancy Kelly, Edmond O'Brien, Harry Carey, Buddy Ebsen, Paul Kelly, Richard Cromwell, Robert Barrat, Edward Fielding, Erville Alderson, Selmer Jackson, Grant Withers, Jack Briggs, Walter Sande, Kathryn Sheldon, Lee Bonnell, Robert Smith, Gayne Whitman, Douglas Evans, Eddie Dunn, Allen Wood
written by John Twist, Major Hugh Fite, music by Roy Webb

American World War II Propaganda

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Millionair's son Don Morse (Robert Preston) and Bill Burke (Edmond O'Brien), a young man who has never met his father, both join the parachute commandoes, and wouldn't you know it, they both fall in love with the same woman, Kit (Nancy Kelly), incidently the daughter of their Major Seargeant Richards (Harry Carey) - who for some reason despises Don but has a soft spot for Bill, whom he almost treats like his own son ... which shouldn't be surprising since Bill is really his boss and best friend Colonel Burke's (Robert Barrat) son - without Bill knowing it of course.

It's the day of the first jump, when Spence (Richard Cromwell), one of the recruits, loses his nerves and even threatens Richards with a gun - and only Bill keeps a cool enough head to persuade Spence to drop the gun and thus saves the day. That evening, Colonel Burke finally officially announces that Bill is really his son - but then Bill confesses to his new-found father and to Richards that he is really afraid of parachuting himself and that he wants out - much to the disappointment of everyone. Ultimately though, Richards takes Bill up in the air for another flight, and quite literally pushes him out of the plane so he has to do his first jump after all ... and he not only succeeds in making a successful landing and overcoming his fears, he also saves the life of Richards, which once more makes him a hero ...

The fight between Bill and Don over Kit is heating up more and more, and ultimately Bill wins out and manages to make her agree to marry him - but at the price of a sloppily packed emergency parachute, which on the very next day, the day of maneuvre, might prove fatal when Don's parachute gets caught in the back wing of their plane and when saving his life, all the two men have is Bill's emergency chute - which for some reason opens like a charm nevertheless ... no, not for some reason but because Don, good comrade that he is, repacked Bill's emergency chute for him ...

In the end, everything is well again, Bill and Don are once more the best of friends, Bill gets Kit, Don soon finds another woman, and Colonel Burke and Major Seargeant Richards are so damn proud of everybody ...

Buddy Ebsen does the comedy relief as a hillbilly recruit.

 

A very cheesy advertisement for the US-Army and especially its parachute commandoes, lasting a mere 75 minutes and containing a bit of melodrama as to not come across too blunt - but blunt the film is, there is no doubt about it. In that respect, don't expect too much from Parachute Battalion, it's after all an army-ad, and some of the macho-ideals transported in the film are nothing short of appaling (and fortunately dated), plus the film is not too well-made and lacks genuine excitement and suspense. The most interesting aspect of the film might be that it was released only a few months before the Japanese attacked pPearl Harbour and the USA entered World War 2 as a result - which of course doesn't make this film a masterpiece at any rate.

 

review © by Mike Haberfelner

 

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directed by
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written by
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