Parachute Jumper
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAlfred E. Green
Screenplay byJohn Francis Larkin
Based onan original story by
Rian James
Produced byDarryl F. Zanuck (uncredited)
StarringDouglas Fairbanks, Jr.
Bette Davis
Frank McHugh
CinematographyJames Van Trees
Edited byRay Curtiss
Music byVitaphone Orchestra conducted by
Leo F. Forbstein
Distributed byWarner Bros.
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 film 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 a search party finds them drunk and unharmed in a cantina, they and the Marine Corps agree to split ways. In no time, they find employment as commercial pilots with a New York firm. Upon arrival, though, they find their new employer has gone bankrupt. Unemployed and nearly broke, they encounter a woman named "Alabama" Brent (Bette Davis) and ask her to share their apartment to save expenses. After escaping death in a parachuting stunt, Bill finally lands a job with bootlegger Kurt Weber (Leo Carrillo). Thus, both Bill and Toodles become entangled in Weber's smuggling schemes, flying in contraband liquor from Canada. On one such trip, Bill shoots down two Border Patrol airplanes while mistaking them for hijackers. Fortunately, there are no fatalities.

Meanwhile, Weber and his henchman Steve (Harold Huber) set a deadly trap for two disgruntled, unpaid ex-employees. Repulsed, Bill hands in his resignation, but Weber persuades him and Toodles to each make one more delivery. Later, Bill learns this time they are smuggling narcotics, not liquor. At the same time, the authorities close in on Weber's office. Weber and Bill elude their trap and fly a plane to Canada. Once again, Border Patrol planes give chase, shooting Weber's plane down. Afterwards, Bill persuades border officials that he is the innocent victim of "kidnapper" Weber. In the end, Toodles decides to re-enlist in the Marines. Bill proposes to Alabama, promising he can support her if he too rejoins the Corps. So Bill and Toodles return where they started.[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.

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]

In popular culture

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]



  1. ^ "At Mason City THEATERS". Globe-Gazette. Mason City Globe-Gazette. January 25, 1933. p. 8. Retrieved April 13, 2016 – via Open access icon
  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". The Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Brooklyn Daily Eagle. p. 20. Retrieved April 13, 2016 – via Open access icon
  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. ^ a b 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.