After leaving the Marines, Bill Keller (Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) and Toodles Cooper (Frank McHugh) head to New York, thinking they have jobs as commercial pilots lined up. But when they arrive, it turns out the company has gone out of business. Bill and Toodles have no other choice but to stay and look for jobs, but the Depression, there aren’t many jobs to be found. One day, Bill meets Patricia “Alabama” Kent (Bette Davis), who is also struggling to find work. She and Bill hit it off and he invites her to live with him and Toodles.
Bill finally gets a break when he finds a company looking for people to skydive an audience. His stunt doesn’t go exactly as planned so that’s the end of that gig. But he takes his paycheck, buys a chauffeur’s uniform, and gets a job driving Mrs. Newberry (Claire Dodd) around. Mrs. Newberry is the girlfriend of gangster Kurt Weber (Leo Carrillo) and Kurt sees that Bill could potentially be an asset to his organization. But after Bill gets into some trouble smuggling drugs into Canada, Bill decides he needs to get out of the racket before it’s too late.
To be perfectly honest, my main reason for wanting to see Parachute Jumper is because Bette Davis hated that movie with a passion. She spent years badmouthing that movie at any chance she got. In What Ever Happened to Baby Jane, a clip of Parachute Jumper was used to show what a lousy actress Jane Hudson was. Now that I’ve finally seen the infamous Parachute Jumper for myself, I can see why Bette loathed it. The southern accent she used in it is hardly one of her finest acting moments. Not only is Bette not very good in it, the story is forgettable. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. and Frank McHugh aren’t much more memorable, either. It’s not quite as bad as Bette made it out to be; I’ve certainly seen far worse movies. But it’s a movie that I’d only recommend if you really want to watch every movie Bette Davis was ever in.