PARATROOPER, known as The Red Beret in England, is a minor effort from 1953, noteworthy only for trivia. It was the first movie produced by Albert R. Broccoli, who would grow rich and famous a decade later showcasing James Bond. His team—director Terence Young, scriptwriter Richard Maibaum, camera operator (later cinematographer) Ted Moore and stuntman (later stunt coordinator) Bob Simmons—all tagged along on the 007 bandwagon.
The story of a British paratroop unit, it stars Alan Ladd (as a Canadian to pre-soothe ruffled bowlers) in his first follow-up to his classic Shane. Though this 88-minute snore made money (supposedly $8,000,000 worldwide on a budget of $700,000) and set the producers off nicely, it was a critical comedown for Ladd, who’d bounced back with the hit western, and this indifferent flick unfortunately set an effective second-rate tone that dogged most of the insecure stars subsequent output. Some of the 19 films he’d headline for the next decade did well enough (I like Santiago! ) but none approached the quality or garnered the respect of Shane. Ironically, his biggest hit, The Carpetbaggers, was released after his death in 1964.
Maybe laying Ladd’s progressive fade onto this unexciting wanker is too much: the try-to-stay-awake story has enough drag to start with. With Leo Genn, Harry Andrews (debut), Susan Stephen, Donald Houston, Anthony Bushell, Stanley Baker, Anton Diffring, Walter Gotell.