DAYS OF GLORY(director: Jacques Tourneur; screenwriters: Casey Robinson/story by Melchior Lengyel; cinematographer: Tony Gaudio; editor: Joseph Noriega; cast: Gregory Peck (Vladimir), Tamara Toumanova (Nina), Glenn Vernon (Mitya), Hugo Haas (Fedor), Alan Reed (Sasha), Igor Dolgoruki (Dimitri), Maria Palmer (Yelena), Dena Penn (Olga), Lowell Gilmore (Semyon), Edward L. Durst (Petrov); Runtime: 86; RKO; 1944)
“This film was a ringing tribute to our wartime allies, the noble Soviets!”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Jacques Tourneur should be applauded for making this wartime propaganda piece into an acceptable action/romance story. The film presented new and unknown actors and only Gregory Peck, in his first motion picture after appearing on the Broadway stage, displayed any kind of star quality. Peck played Vladimir, a Soviet guerrilla commander during World War 11. Tamara Toumanova plays Nina, a beautiful Russian ballerina entertaining the regular Russian troops during the German invasion of Russia in 1941, who gets lost and winds up in Peck’s underground bunker. While there she loses her pacifism and becomes a guerrilla fighter, and romances Peck. In real life this aspiring actress was a Russian ballerina, who married the producer/screenwriter Casey Robinson. Need I say more on how she got the part! But to her credit, she handled the role decently.
This film was a ringing tribute to our wartime allies, the noble Soviets! This would be a source of embarrassment in the coming years. The film has fun with the combatants calling each other comrade at every turn, and with glorifying the peasants and the efficiency of the Soviet Army.
Nothing much happens for the guerrillas while waiting in their bunker, except they spew out monologues about fighting for freedom and Mother Russia. Yelena ventures out to shoot a couple of Nazis riding by on a motorbike; the Samson-like Fedor offers some bunker humor; teenage brother and sister, Mitya and Olga, commit themselves fully to the cause; the guerrillas dynamite a German supply train, and capture and kill a Nazi when he tries to escape; and, to add a touch of comradeship, Semyon reads courageous Russian stories to the men. He is second in command and the resident intellectual. Peck in peace time was an engineer, but now he destroys the things he used to build and is a starry-eyed patriot (Communist).
What the guerrillas are waiting for is for important orders to come down from Russian headquarters, telling them they will be part of the attack on the Nazis.
The film plods along to its action climax. Peck gets just as excited about the message to attack the Nazis as he does holding Nina in his arms.
Mitya becomes a hero, giving up his life so that the Nazis won’t find Peck. Later on when the Russians counter-attack and begin pushing the Germans out of their homeland, Petrov gallantly blows up a German tank while giving up his life to save the other guerrillas.
The film failed miserably with the critics and at the box office, but it wasn’t that bad…it even had a certain corny charm that some might find strangely appealing.
REVIEWED ON 9/1/2000 GRADE: C
Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”
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