Parachute Jumper (1933)

Film Review


Release Date: 28 January, 1933

Studio: Warner Bros.

Director: Alfred E. Green

Starring: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Bette Davis, Frank McHugh, Leo Carrillo


Fairbanks and McHugh, recently released from the Marines, search for jobs. Fairbanks brings Davis, who is jobless and homeless, to their apartment. Fairbanks talks two aviators into letting him do a parachute-jumping stunt. They pay him $75.00 that he uses to buy a chauffer’s outfit. A rich woman hires him as her chauffer. Carrillo, her lover, discovers Fairbanks kissing her. He confronts Fairbanks, who proves that he is both brave and a good shot. Carrillo, a businessman with enemies, immediately hires Fairbanks as his bodyguard. Carrillo pays Fairbanks and McHugh to fly a planeload of illegal alcohol from Canada. In a nightclub, Carrillo’s henchman shoots two men. Several corrupt policemen, drinking at the club, verify the henchman’s false statements about the killings. After this incident, Fairbanks wants to quit, but Carrillo asks him and McHugh to make one more flight to Canada. In flight, Fairbanks learns that the cargo contains narcotics. He warns McHugh, crashes his own plane, and delivers Carrillo to the US Border Patrol. Still jobless, McHugh rejoins the Marines. Fairbanks proposes to Davis, and they plan on marriage.


The plot of this busy picture meanders through a series of incidents, following Fairbanks as he moves from job to job. The scenario includes plenty of racy dialogue and situations. Fairbanks, handsome and charming, is an engaging leading man. Davis, who had not yet found her screen character, has a supporting role in a part that could as easily been played by Joan Blondell.

Leo Carrillo, who plays a murderous gangster, was a busy actor in the mid-thirties, appearing in about five films a year and headlining most of the low-budget features. A versatile performer, Carrillo's several roles in 1933 alone had him playing a nasty gangster, a blackmailer, a softhearted gambler, a comic Greeks, and a heroic barber.

Alfred E. Green’s directorial career began in 1916 and continued uninterrupted until 1958. A prolific filmmaker, he directed nearly 100 features in the silent and sound eras. Although most of his films are B-level programmers, he handled some A-level projects. He directed George Arliss (Disraeli, 1929) and Bette Davis (Dangerous, 1935) to Academy Awards.