Days of Glory
Directed by Jacques Tourneur, 1944
Staring Gregory Peck, Tamara Toumanova
This is a World War II movie produced and released during that war. This is a story about a small band of Russian partisans operating behind the lines in the Nazi occupied portion of Russia. While the movie was not a critical success, the critics did have praise for the stars, Gregory Peck (who plays Vladimir, the commander of the group) and Tamara Toumanova (Nina, a professional ballet dancer from Moscow who got lost while searching for another partisan unit and ended up with Peck's unit) and this helped launch the film careers of both.
The Russian winter has slowed the Nazi advance across Russia to Moscow. Vladimir (Peck )and his small unit are operating out of the basement of the crumbling ruins of a former monastery in the countryside behind the German lines. Despite his youth, Vladimir is a hardened commander totally focused on his mission. Things change when one of his men finds Nina, a professional dancer from Moscow, in the woods and brings her to the monastery. Nina has become lost looking for another partisan group. Vladimir is initially upset, viewing Nina as both a possible security breach and excess baggage as she is clearly not a fighter. But he changes his opinion of her when a German prisoner they have captured tries to escape and Nina, who is alone in the hideout, shoots him as he climbs the stairs to make his exit.
Love quickly develops between Vladimir and Nina. But their relationship starts to undermine his command as those under him begin to question his ability to be fair with them and to put the mission above his feelings for Nina when decisions have to be made. The big test comes when Vladimir needs to send a message through the Nazi lines to headquarters telling of their position and receiving instructions for the planned Russian counter offensive. Since a woman would have a better chance than a man of making her way through the lines, Vladimir is forced to choose between Nina and the other woman in the unit. Despite Nina's pleas to send her, Vladimir chooses the other woman. But when the other woman is killed by a sniper, Vladimir is forced to let Nina undertake the mission.
Despite some dialogue that is more patriotic slogans than conversation (to be expected since this film about the war was made in the midst of World War II), the movie is a nice action/love story.
This movie, the first staring Gregory Peck, is available on video.
The review of this Movie prepared by Chuck Nugent