Paratrooper


(1953) This British film was known as “The Red Beret” in that country and released as “Paratrooper” in the U.S. It was based on the 1950 nonfiction book by Hilary Saint George Saunders, a World War II author.

What intrigued me about this movie about the British paratroopers was that I had just watched “A Bridge Too Far” about Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne operation ever.

Most interesting to me were the paratrooper training scenes as the airmen jumped frist from a balloon, then from planes. At one point there is an announcement from the General that from now on they would each be wearing a red beret.  From that point on, the red beret became a symbol of the elite airborne forces.

Paratrooper, WWII Movie starring Alan Ladd

Paratrooper, WWII Movie starring Alan Ladd and Leo Genn

Alan Ladd had the starring role. He played an American who had gone to Canada to volunteer for the British paratrooper school. The year was 1940, so the U.S. was not yet officially in the war.  I did think that Ladd seemed a bit out of place with the excellent British actors. He seemed more like the sullen cowboy who never had a nice thing to say.  I knew someone wished this movie was a western when the men all break out in a brawl in the canteen that suddenly looked exactly like an old western saloon.  I read in a Turner Classic Movies article that Ladd was chosen for the role to entice British audiences to see the movie. I hope it helped.

The co-star was Leo Genn, a British actor that I enjoyed so much in “The Wooden Horse.”

“The Red Beret” AKA “Paratrooper” was co- produced by Albert R. Broccoli, an Italian-American whose name is hard to forget. He went on to co-produce several of the James Bond films.  The first was “Dr. No” with Sean Connery. That was definitely a step up for Mr. Broccolli.

So, the main actor was a disappointment but the insight into the RAF Paratrooper School made the movie worth watching.


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