Director: Jacques Tourneur
Genre(s): Drama, Romance, War
Runtime: 86 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
What was it like for democracies, like the United States, to be allied with a totalitarian state, the Soviet Union, during World War II? Days of Glory, made during that war, shows what the Free World’s propagandists had to work with. On the Eastern Front of World War II, a band of Soviet partisans wage guerrilla warfare against the invading Nazis. This melodrama is satisfactory entertainment, but works best as a window into the nature of the Western Allies’ relationship with the Soviet Union during those desperate days.
To put it bluntly, Days of Glory is pro-Soviet propaganda, albeit a piece of propaganda from a time when that communist country was perhaps the world’s best hope for taking down Nazi Germany. The opening narration even goes as far as to describe the millions suffering under Stalinist rule as a “free people.” Okay, this isn’t exactly a realistic movie, with its singing Soviets and whatnot, but I can forgive this, considering its wartime origins.
Although it’s a war film, this picture goes pretty light on the action. If you’re thinking of watching this flick just to see some Eastern Front partisan-related carnage, I’d recommend you look elsewhere. However, on the basic level of investing the audience in its characters, Days of Glory works fine enough. It’s romance-heavy, but the story is interesting enough to keep viewers engaged. Much time is spent in the guerrillas’ underground bunker, occasionally giving the movie a stagey feel.
Days of Glory is notable to two things. The first is that it’s the film debut of Gregory Peck, who plays the leader of the Soviet partisan cell. He would, of course, go on to become of one the silver screen’s greatest actors. The second is that it’s one of the few American productions to cast an explicitly positive light on the vile Soviet Union. To be fair, the common foot soldier of that communist empire deserves a lot of the credit for rolling back and defeating fascism during World War II. All in all, this is a watchable drama picture with some very badly dated politics that make it intriguing.
My rating is 7 outta 10.