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
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.