Days of Glory (1944 film)

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Days of Glory
Daysofglory.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jacques Tourneur
Produced by Casey Robinson
Written by Melchior Lengyel
Screenplay byCasey Robinson
Starring Tamara Toumanova
Gregory Peck
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Constantin Bakaleinikoff
Cinematography Tony Gaudio
Edited byJoseph Noriega
Production
company
Distributed byRKO Radio Pictures
Release date
  • June 8, 1944 (1944-06-08)
Running time
86 minutes
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
German
Budget$958,000 [1]

Days of Glory is a 1944 American film, directed by Jacques Tourneur, which tells the story of a group of Soviet guerrillas fighting back during the 1941 Nazi invasion of Russia. It marked the film debut of Tamara Toumanova and Gregory Peck, as well as most of the other principal actors. It was also the first film produced by screen writer Casey Robinson, who in early January 1943 had been contracted by RKO Radio Pictures to write and produce the film under the working title This Is Russia. [2] Robinson and Toumanova married in 1944 [3] and divorced in 1955. [4]

Contents

Plot

Vladimir (Peck) leads a partisan squad operating behind the German lines near the city of Tula. The group is composed of once-ordinary Soviet citizens, including two children, Olga (Dena Penn), who does much of the group's housekeeping, and her younger brother Mitya (Glen Vernon). The group's routines are disrupted when Nina Ivanova (Toumanova), a Russian ballerina, is brought to their hideout after becoming separated from others in her entertainment troupe. At first, the veteran guerrillas do not know what to make of her. She confesses that she has never handled or shot a gun, and Olga is astonished that Nina does not even know how to fight, cook, mend or clean. The men are entranced by her beauty, but Vladimir wants to send her away, knowing that the group will soon be sent on a suicide mission.

When a German soldier stumbles upon the group's lair, he is captured. Vladimir is ready to execute him, but Nina is aghast at the thought. Semyon (Lowell Gilmore), a former professor and Vladimir's second in command, persuades Vladimir to give the prisoner a fair trial the next day. That night, however, the German tries to escape, forcing Nina to shoot him, which wins her the group's acceptance.

When the guerrillas plan to sabotage a German ammunition train, Vladimir takes Nina along. The operation is a success, and while hiding from a German patrol, Vladimir and Nina embrace and kiss. Although she has fallen in love with Vladimire, Nina does not understand his ruthlessness. He explains that before the war he was an engineer, proud to have helped build a dam to provide electricity, but he had to destroy it to keep it out the hands of the Germans.

The couple's budding romance threatens the stability of the squad. When Vladimir has to send a message to headquarters, he decides a woman would be less likely to be suspected by any Germans. He chooses the veteran Yelena, the only other woman in the group and a skilled sniper. Yelena also loves Vladimir and resents his apparent desire to protect Nina but goes. When Yelena is killed by the Germans, Nina volunteers to try to take the message herself. Vladimir sends Mitya along with her, planning to meet them at a house in the nearby village. When the three meet up, Yelena passes along the vital reply--"The snow will fall tomorrow"--indicating that the Russian counterattack, and the group's suicide mission, will begin the next day.

Vladimir, however, is forced to hide in the house when a German officer commandeers it for his use. To distract the Germans, Mitya spits in the officer's face and is taken away. Vladimir, despite Nina's pleas, is helpless to intervene, and Mitya goes bravely to his death, hanged in the town square.

Vladimir is put in charged of the now-merged partisan operation. He orders Nina to take Olga to safety since the group's orders are to draw the Germans away from the actual front of the counterattack. Fighting bravely, the group's members are killed one by one, but Nina returns to the scene, more than willing to do her part. Vladimir administers her taking the partisan oath of allegiance just before a German tank comes on top of them and explodes.

Cast

Production

Days of Glory is one of a handful of Hollywood films made during American participation in World War II to increase public support for the country's alliance with the Soviet Union against Nazi Germany. Such films, which would become the target of investigations during the Cold War by the House Committee on Un-American Activities, included Mission to Moscow , The North Star , Three Russian Girls , and Song of Russia . [5]

Parts of the film were shot in Cedar City, Utah. [6] :287

Reception

Bosley Crowther faulted the screenwriter for "letting his story progress so fitfully and loading his characters with dialogue rather than stirring deeds." He said "the director failed to make the best of what he had," and "Gregory Peck comes recommended with a Gary Cooper angularity and a face somewhat like that modest gentleman's, but his acting is equally stiff." [7] The film recorded a loss of $593,000. [8]

Award nominations

Vernon L. Walker, James G. Stewart, and Roy Granville were nominated for the Oscar for Best Effects. [9]

See also

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References

  1. Richard Jewell & Vernon Harbin, The RKO Story. New Rochelle, New York: Arlington House, 1982. p194
  2. Long Beach Independent, January 10, 1943, page 31: RKO Signs Casey Robinson to Write, Produce "This Is Russia" Retrieved 2012-08-29
  3. Is Ballet Dancing Slavery? The Examiner (Tasmania), April 19, 1952 - Retrieved 2012-08-29
  4. Hamilton Daily News Journal, October 19, 1955, page 7: Little Black Book Leads to Divorce Retrieved 2012-08-29
  5. Small, Melvin (Winter 1973). "Buffoons and Brave Hearts: Hollywood Portrays the Russians, 1939-1944". California Historical Quarterly. 52, Number 4: 326–337 via JSTOR.
  6. D'Arc, James V. (2010). When Hollywood came to town: A history of moviemaking in Utah (1st ed.). Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. ISBN   9781423605874.
  7. Crowther, Bosley (June 17, 1944). "' Days of Glory,' Starring Tamara Toumanova and Gregory Peck, at Palace -- Mexican Film Opens" via NYTimes.com.
  8. Richard B. Jewell, Slow Fade to Black: The Decline of RKO Radio Pictures, Uni of California, 2016
  9. "The 17th Academy Awards (1945) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2013-06-23.