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Parachute Battalion (1941)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 12 September 1941 (USA)
In this pre-Pearl Harbor recruiting poster, colonel's estranged son Bill Burke, football hero Donald Morse, and hillbilly Jeff Hollis enlist in the paratroopers. Their training at Fort ... See full summary »


Leslie Goodwins


John Twist (original screenplay), Hugh Fite (original screenplay) (as Major Hugh Fite Air Corps)

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Preston ... Donald Morse
Nancy Kelly ... Kit Richards
Edmond O'Brien ... Bill Burke
Harry Carey ... Bill Richards
Buddy Ebsen ... Jeff Hollis
Paul Kelly ... Tex
Richard Cromwell ... Spence
Robert Barrat ... Col. Burke
Edward Fielding ... Chief of Infantry
Erville Alderson ... Pa Hollis
Selmer Jackson ... Thomas Morse
Grant Withers ... Captain
Jack Briggs ... Private
Walter Sande ... Medical Officer
Kathryn Sheldon Kathryn Sheldon ... Ma Hollis


In this pre-Pearl Harbor recruiting poster, colonel's estranged son Bill Burke, football hero Donald Morse, and hillbilly Jeff Hollis enlist in the paratroopers. Their training at Fort Benning, Georgia is followed in semi-documentary style, with time out for personal dramas and the romantic rivalry of Bill and Don over the sergeant's daughter. Written by Rod Crawford <puffinus@u.washington.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Thrill TO THE DRAMA OF UNCLE SAM'S NEW JUMP FIGHTERS!... (original print media ad - all caps) See more »


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »






Release Date:

12 September 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Batalhão de Paraquedas See more »

Filming Locations:

Fort Benning, Georgia, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The world premiere in Atlanta, Georgia, was attended by the members of the 501st Parachute Battalion who worked on the production. See more »


When the two parachutists land in the river their parachutes are not deployed but still packed. These are the jumpers main chutes, activated by the static line when jumping on command. These two jumpers, however were using their emergency chutes. The sergeant even tells Burke to remember to pull his ripcord. Therefore, the main chutes would normally remain packed. See more »

Crazy Credits

After the title and names of the eight featured players, the following statement appears in capital letters while the title song plays and we view the marching infantry: We gratefully acknowledge the splendid cooperation given by the officers and men of the 501st Parachute Battalion at Fort Benning, Ga., who actually made all the parachute jumps for this picture. See more »


Played by a bugler to awaken the recruits
See more »

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User Reviews

For what it is, it's done exceptionally well.
27 January 2013 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

Just before the US entered WWII, quite a few patriotic films were made by Hollywood showcasing the various duties of its armed forces. Some (such as "Caught in the Draft" and "Buck Privates") were comedies others were not ("Dive Bomber" and "I wanted Wings"). But all were films with a message--it's patriotic and important to become part of these fighting units. "Parachute Battalion" is such a film and it debuted several months before Pearl Harbor.

The film is about a small group of men who volunteer for the paratroopers. Not surprisingly, it's a scary proposition jumping out of airplanes and the film shows their progress through this school. There are four fellows in particular that they showcase: a brash All-American football player (Robert Preston), the son of the base commander who is keeping his identity secret from his follow soldiers (Edmond O'Brien), comic relief (Buddy Ebsen) and a guy scared out of his wits (Richard Cromwell). All must prove themselves as they progress through camp.

So why did I score such a routine with a very high score of 8? One reason is that the men are NOT uniformly perfect--one clearly cracks up and another is close. Such fallibility probably would have NOT been in the film had it been made once the US was in the war--and it adds to the realism. But the biggest reason I liked the film is that little stock footage was used and what was used fit seamlessly into the movie. All too often, crappy, grainy footage is shoved into such films--but here you actually see the actors doing much of the work. Overall, it is an interesting little film--and a nice chance to see a young Edmond O'Brien in an early starring role.

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