(1941) Parachute Battalion came out in mid 1941 as movie studios rushed to create stories about various branches of the armed services both in our country and in Great Britain. Others I have watched are A Yank in the R.A.F., Dangerous Moonlight, and Dive Bomber. The United States wasn’t at war, but all of Europe was. Our guys were being drafted and enlisting in preparation for what seemed inevitable.
What I especially liked about this film is that it was made Georgia, and the premiere was in Atlanta. The opening credits read “We gratefully acknowledge the splendid co-operation given by the officers and men of the 501st Parachute Battalion at Fort Benning, GA, who actually made all the parachute jumps in this picture.”
Even though there was a silly subplot involving the Sergeant’s daughter, the main story line about the parachute packing, procedures, and jumps was enlightening. As my favorite WWII movie critic, New York Time’s Bosley Crowther wrote, “For folks who want to know how it looks and feels to jump from a plane without assuming any of the risks, it is a very good picture to see.”
The main stars were Edmund O’Brien, Robert Preston (15 years later, The Music Man), and Buddy Ebsen. I didn’t recognize the 33 year old Ebsen but I remember his excellent dancing to (what else in Georgia?) “Turkey in the Straw.”
I couldn’t find a trailer for Parachute Battalion but here is a 1941 newsreel video about a real Parachute Battalion.