When producer-screenwriter Casey Robinson set out to make a wartimer extolling the courage of our Russian allies battling Nazi invaders, he chose a noted director -- Jacques Tourneur (Cat People, Out of the Past) -- but a cast of unknowns. One of them didn't stay unknown long. Film-debuting Gregory Peck began his rapid rise to stardom playing a steely guerrilla leader preparing for a desperate mission he knows he and his band of fighters cannot survive. Acclaimed dancer Tamara Toumanova (soon to be Mrs. Casey Robinson) also makes her film debut, portraying a beautiful ballerina who joins the resistance, igniting a poignant love story in the midst of action, suspense and heroic sacrifice.
Like SONG OF RUSSIA and MISSION TO MOSCOW before it, DAYS OF GLORY is a paean to the courage and resourcefulness of the Soviet Union during WW2 (this was long before the Russians became the stock villains in Hollywood films!) Producer Casey Robinson took a gamble with the project, casting the leading roles with movie newcomers. Heading the cast is Broadway actor Gregory Peck as Vladimir, the leader of a band of Soviet guerilla fighters. Tamara Toumanova, former premier ballerina of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, costars as Nina, whose love for Vladimir is surpassed by her love for Mother Russia (Toumanova was at the time the wife of producer Robinson). The actors speak in long, lyrical monologues about freedom, sacrifice and the indomitability of the human spirit: fascinating at first, the excess verbiage begins to wear on the viewer after three or four reels. In traditional underground-movie fashion, hero and heroine are obliged to give up their own lives for the sake of their countrymen, in a reasonably spectacular climactic battle sequence. Budgeted at nearly a million dollars, DAYS OF GLORY lost heavily at the box-office, though critics and audiences alike were in agreement that Gregory Peck had some potential as a screen presence.
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