Bill Burke is none too steady on his feet when he arrives at the 501st Parachute Battalion’s recruitment center, Georgia, to enlist. Don Morse (Robert Preston) , the egoistic All-American quarterback, has his own reasons for wanting to join up – he’s in legal trouble over two-timing the ladies one too many times. Bill Burke (Edmond O’Brien) and Jeff Hollis (Buddy Ebsen) are not enlisting on purely patriotic grounds, either – but this disorganized bunch is soon molded into infantry shape by the rigors of boot camp. Those who are apparently well-connected at the base are soon disabused of all notions of preferential treatment.
As training gets serious, the new recruits slowly become aware of the awesome responsibility the have toward the Battalion and their country. It soon becomes evident that parachute jumping is a rather refined skill in which half measures will not do and weak nerves have no place. When Jeff Hollis begins to lose his courage, he must fight some vicious demons while having to contend with his friend Donald Morse for the affections of indecisive, beautiful young Kit Richards (Nancy Kelly) – who just happens to be the daughter of tough Colonel William Richards (Harry Carey) !
As this unlikely assortment of paratroop recruits proceeds to merge into a single-minded fighting unit, personal prejudices and agendas are left behind and the cause of the country becomes their predominant driving force.
With war fever at its greatest pitch in 1941, recruitment into the American Armed Forces was a major issue. Parachute Battalion was shot on location at Fort Bennings in Georgia, and includes dramatic scenes of parachute drops performed by star troopers from the 501st Parachute Battalion. The story revolves around a motley crew of fresh recruits, each signing up for his own reasons but finally emerging as a seasoned paratrooper. The film, directed with great insight by Leslie Goodwins, brilliantly highlights the fact that nobody starts off as a pro in the Armed Forces, and that this is no limitation on future glory.
Donald Morse, Jeff Hollis and Bill Burke, though from vastly diverse backgrounds, overcome their personal demons and biases to blend perfectly into an effective paratrooper unit. This classic inspirational feature film contributed significantly to the overall image of the American Armed Forces and lent the concept of fighting for the country a deserved aura of glamour and romance.
"I think that Parachute Battalion from the A2ZCDS vault of vintage goodies is a very humane depiction of what it takes to become a paratrooper. Leslie Goodwins has done a commendable job of presenting the recruitment process, and some of the personal angles that can crop, up in a realistic and intelligent manner. I can just imagine the impact this feature film must have had back in 1941."
Harold S. Swindoll (Gary, Indiana)
"Parachute Battalion is a truly heartwarming and inspiring feature film. It gives me new respect for our brave fighting men…the parachuting scenes are awe-inspiring, and I can relate completely with the character Jeff Hollis’ fears, and I had to applaud when he overcomes them. This is more than a vintage Hollywood movie – it’s a timeless statement of character and courage."
Wendy Dennings (Camden, New Jersey)
CAST & CREW:
Buddy Ebsen -
Paul Kelly -
Robert H. Barrat -
Edward Feilding -
Grant Withers -
Jack Briggs -
Walter Sande -
Lee Bonnell -
Robert Smith -
Gayne Whitman -
Eddie Dunn -
Derek N. Twist -
Maj. Hugh Fite - Writing Credits
Roy Hunt - Cinematography
Theron Warth - Editor
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