Parachute Jumper

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Parachute Jumper
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alfred E. Green
Screenplay by John Francis Larkin
Based onan original story by
Rian James
Produced by Darryl F. Zanuck (uncredited)
Starring Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Bette Davis
Frank McHugh
Cinematography James Van Trees
Edited byRay Curtiss
Music by Vitaphone Orchestra conducted by
Leo F. Forbstein
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.
Release date
  • January 28, 1933 (1933-01-28)
Running time
65 minutes (also listed as 70 and 73 minutes)
CountryUnited States

Parachute Jumper is a 1933 American pre-Code black-and-white comedy-drama directed by Alfred E. Green. Based on a story by Rian James titled "Some Call It Love", it stars Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Bette Davis and Frank McHugh. [1]



Marine pilots Bill Keller (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) and "Toodles" Cooper (Frank McHugh) are shot down over Nicaragua. When they are found drunk and unharmed in a cantina, they and the Marine Corps split ways. A New York firm offers them jobs as commercial pilots but upon arrival, they find their would-be employer has gone bankrupt. Unemployed and almost out of money, they meet blonde Southerner Patricia "Alabama" Brent (Bette Davis). Keller convinces her to share their apartment to save expenses. After escaping death in a parachuting stunt, he finds an even riskier way to make money by working for bootlegger Kurt Weber (Leo Carrillo). Thus, both Keller and Cooper become entangled in Weber's smuggling schemes, flying in contraband liquor from Canada. On a return trip, Keller shoots down two Border Patrol airplanes while mistaking them for hijackers. Fortunately, there are no fatalities.

Meanwhile, Weber and his henchman Steve Donovan (Harold Huber) set a deadly trap for two disgruntled, unpaid ex-employees. As a result, Keller hands in his resignation, but Weber persuades him and Cooper to make one more delivery. After Cooper leaves, Keller learns they are smuggling not liquor, but narcotics. The authorities close in on Weber's office. Weber and Keller get away, but Weber leaves Donovan behind to meet his fate. Weber boards a plane with Keller at the controls, and they fly away to Canada. But once again, Border Patrol planes give chase, and this time they shoot him down. Keller persuades his rescuers that he is an innocent victim and the unconscious Weber is a kidnapper. Unable to find work, Cooper decides to re-enlist in the Marines. Keller proposes to Patricia, promising he can support her if he too rejoins the Corps. [2]


Unbilled (in order of appearance)
Noted movie pilot Paul Mantz was in charge of the aerial photography, undertaking a number of stunts that included two aircraft flying in close formation. Parachute Jumper.jpg
Noted movie pilot Paul Mantz was in charge of the aerial photography, undertaking a number of stunts that included two aircraft flying in close formation.

Production notes


Mordaunt Hall, reviewer for The New York Times , called it "a fast-moving tale of adventure in the air and on earth ..." [7] That review summed up the format of crime and adventure in the air that had been explored in a number of other films of the period. [8] In a later review, Leonard Maltin called it a "Fast-moving, enjoyable Warner Bros. programmer." [9]

Clips of Parachute Jumper are featured in the prologue of the first film version of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962) as an example of the supposedly poor quality of the film work of Jane Hudson (Bette Davis) as an adult. [4]

In an interview about his film career, Douglas Fairbanks Jr. described Parachute Jumper as "awful". [10]

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  1. "At Mason City THEATERS". Mason City Globe-Gazette. January 25, 1933. p. 8. Retrieved April 13, 2016 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  2. Dickstein, Martin (January 26, 1933). "News and Comment of the Stage, Screen and Music Worlds — Reverting to Type / The Screen / 'Parachute Jumper,' a Picture Concerned Only Slightly With Parachute Jumping, Stars Douglas Fairbanks Jr. at the Manhattan Strand". Brooklyn Daily Eagle. p. 20. Retrieved April 13, 2016 via Open Access logo PLoS transparent.svg
  3. Wilk, Ralph (1932). "A Little from 'Lots'", The Film Daily, October 6, 1932, page 4, column 1; Internet Archive, San Francisco, California. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
  4. 1 2 Carr, Jay. "Articles: Parachute Jumper (1933)." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: August 15, 2013.
  5. Wynne 1984, p. 138.
  6. "Parachute Jumper". Aerofiles. Retrieved: August 15, 2013.
  7. Hall, Mourdant. "Parachute Jumper (1933); Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and Frank McHugh teamed in a story of adventures in air and on earth." The New York Times , January 26, 1933.
  8. Farmer 1984, p. 30.
  9. "Leonard Maltin Movie Review: Parachute Jumper." Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved: August 21, 2013.
  10. Bawden, James; Miller, Ron (4 March 2016). Conversations with Classic Film Stars: Interviews from Hollywood's Golden Era. University Press of Kentucky. p. 98. ISBN   9780813167121.


  • Farmer, James H. Broken Wings: Hollywood's Air Crashes. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Pub Co., 1984. ISBN   978-0-933126-46-6.
  • Wynne, Hugh. The Motion Picture Stunt Pilots & Hollywood's Classic Aviation Movies. Missoula, Montana: Pictorial Histories Publishing, 1987. ISBN   0-933126-85-9.