Cast & Crew
In the fall of the first year of World War II, Hitler's armies traverse the Russian highways enroute to Leningrad and Stalingrad. Alongside the roads, in the stillness of the great forests, Russian guerrilla soldiers wait, determined to drive the invaders from their soil. In one of the guerrilla groups are Vladimir, the leader; Semyon, a former professor who now serves as Vladimir's adjutant; Yelena, a girl from the factories who is in love with Vladimir; Sasha, an amiable drunk; Fedor, a blacksmith; Dmitri, a farmer; Petrov, the "silent" one; and sixteen-year-old Mitya and his little sister Olga, who cooks for the group. Upon returning from headquarters one day, Vladimir learns that the group has given refuge to Nina, a beautiful woman found wandering in the war-ravaged countryside. When they question Nina about what skills she can contribute, she volunteers that she was once a ballerina in the Moscow theater. Jealous and contemptous of the elegant Nina, Yelena urges Vladimir to send her away. Later, Vladimir confides to Petrov that when they receive the coded message "the snow will fall" they will be launched on a mission that will cost them their lives. As Vladimir plans his strategy, Mitya tells Nina of the destruction of his village and murder of his father by the Nazis. To comfort Mitya, Nina begins to dance for him, but her performance is interrupted by a German soldier. When Olga throws boiling liquid at the soldier, Mitya grabs his rifle and captures him. Vladimir is about to kill the German when Nina cries out, and Semyon convinces him to grant the soldier a trial. Afterward, Nina confides to Semyon that she feels like an outsider and he offers her encouragement. While alone in the hideout the next day, Nina is attacked by the German soldier and she shoots him in self-defense. Her actions win Vladimir's acceptance and admiration, and he invites her to accompany him on a raid to blow up a German ammunition train. After their mission is completed, Vladimir embraces Nina. When she questions his lust for killing Germans, he explains that before the war, he was an engineer who built a great dam which he later was forced to destroy to prevent the Germans from taking it. Nina then comforts Vladimir and makes him promise never to send her away. The two spend the night together in the woods, causing the others to become jealous and angry. When Vladimir learns that he must send a woman through German lines to deliver a message about the strength and location of the German troops, he faces a moral dilemma because of his love for Nina. Vladimir assigns the dangerous mission to Yelena, who leaves camp feeling rejected. As Yelena meets her death along the trail, Nina awakens, sensing danger. Vladimir tells her that she has taught him to love life again but when Yelena's horse returns to his corral with his saddle stained with blood, Nina volunteers to deliver the message. Vladimir sends Mitya to guard her, arranging to meet them at a house in a neighboring village. Their mission is a success and Nina returns with the message "the snow will fall tomorrow." Soon after, German soldiers arrive at the house and arrest Mitya. Upon learning that the boy has been sentenced to hang, Nina begs Vladimir to intercede, but he refuses because they must mobilize the following day. Nina watches helplessly as the Germans put a noose around Mitya's neck, but when he sees her, he meets his death with a smile on his face and defiance on his lips. After Nina tells Olga that her brother died a hero, Vladimir orders her to take the girl to safety, explaining that their mission is to draw the German tanks away from the front and that a little girl has no place there. As members of the group perish in the line of fire, Semyon and Vladimir draw the German tanks to their hideout. At that moment, Nina returns to the group, and with the tanks approaching, she takes the soldier's oath. As Nina swears final victory over the enemy, the burning tanks obliterate their stronghold.
Sonny Boy Williams
Albert S. D'agostino
James G. Stewart
Richard Van Hessen
Vernon L. Walker
Best Special Effects
Days of Glory
The transition to the screen from the stage wasn't without its challenges, however. Peck considered his own performance amateurish and never wanted to see Days of Glory again after its release. Furthermore, because he was trained for the theatre, he had to be coached by director Jacques Tourneur to "common up" his precise diction and stop projecting. Tourneur had the opposite problem with Peck's leading lady, Tamara Toumanova, a star of George Ballanchine's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. This was the dancer's first screen appearance in a speaking park, and she spoke so softly she could barely be picked up by the microphones. Playing a ballet dancer who at first reluctantly joins the Russian partisans, Toumanova's gifts as an actress were limited at best. Wisely, she limited herself to only a handful of motion pictures over the next two dozen years, even then appearing mostly in dancing parts. She married Robinson shortly after the release of Days of Glory.
The picture was also Robinson's debut as a producer. A noted screenwriter for years at Warner Brothers, he wrote the screenplays for six Bette Davis hits, contributed (uncredited) to Casablanca (1942), and was Oscar-nominated® for the swashbuckler that made Errol Flynn a star, Captain Blood (1935). Robinson continued to write for many important films (Saratoga Trunk (1945), The Snows of Kilimanjaro, 1952) while continuing in a less successful capacity as producer.
Days of Glory also introduced a portly little Czech character actor, Hugo Haas, to American audiences. When the Nazis invaded his country, Haas fled to America, taking jobs as announcer of U.S. radio broadcasts to the Eastern European underground and narrator of propaganda films. Although he continued to appear in front of the camera for the remainder of his career, Haas began writing, producing and directing his own productions, independent films he tried to model on European styles and which stand today as some of the most curious and idiosyncratic films of the 1950s.
Days of Glory was based on a story by Melchior Lengyel, whose other stories formed the basis for the films Ninotchka (1939) and To Be or Not to Be (1942). The film also received an Academy Award nomination for Best Special Effects.
Director: Jacques Tourneur
Producer: Casey Robinson
Screenplay: Casey Robinson, based on a story by Melchior Lengyel
Cinematography: Tony Gaudio
Editing: Joseph Noriega
Art Direction: Carroll Clark, Albert S. D'Agostino
Original Music: Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cast: Gregory Peck (Vladimir), Tamara Toumanova (Nina), Lowell Gilmore (Semyon), Maria Palmer (Yelena), Hugo Haas (Fedor).
BW-86m. Closed captioning.
by Rob Nixon
Days of Glory
This movie was the screen debut for all 19 actors involved.
The working title of this picture was Revenge. According to a news item in Hollywood Reporter, Days of Glory was selected as the final title through a national poll of screen fans. The film opens with the following spoken prologue: "Here is the true story, which could have happened in any land, of a little group of free people who lived and loved and fought to drive the invaders from their native soil." The title of the film is then followed by pictures of the cast members with their names and roles. The narration continues over these pictures, providing a brief sketch of each character. The complete production credits do not appear until the end of the film.
This picture marked the screen debut of Gregory Peck (1916-2003), who did not make a favorable impression on the audience, according to an item in New York Times. Although the onscreen credits state that film marked the debut for several actors in addition to Peck, Days of Glory was the first feature length film production for actors Alan Reed, Lowell Gilmore, Hugo Haas, Glenn Vernon, Edward Durst, Lou Crosby and Russian ballerina Tamara Toumanova. Maria Palmer, Dena Penn and Igor Dolgoruki had previous feature film credits; however, Days of Glory marked their first major film roles. It was also the first producing credit for screenwriter Casey Robinson, who was married to Toumanova, and the first "A" level production for director Jacques Tourneur. According to news item in Hollywood Reporter, the film was shot on location in Cedar City, UT. Production was suspended on August 18, 1943 so that Robinson could revise the script. The film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Special Effects.