Dense and comprehensive, Days of Glory documents, through archival materials, partisan efforts against both Fascism and the German occupation in Italy, the liberation of northern Italy, and the trials of war criminals such as Pietro Caruso, the Fascist head of the Italian police.
A film such as this is cumulative; we get a look at both the Fascist press and the underground anti-Fascist press, atrocities during the occupation, mob vengeance and highly structured justice, and partisan bravery and exploit. This is a staggering piece of work.
Even so, what with all the material, both silent and with sound, we will be particularly interested in the Caruso trial segment because Luchino Visconti, at this point a neorealist, is credited with it. Its vortex is Caruso’s face—“anxious” as the evidence is produced against him and as his fate inevitably rolls toward an appointed firing squad. We are haunted by Caruso’s unexpressed thoughts. Did Caruso, himself, come to see himself as a “traitor” and a beast, or was he rationalizing his criminal actions even to his own death?
Visconti allows for some continuous activity; but perhaps the film’s most gripping aspect is its use of consecutive snippets in other segments. Former journalist Giuseppe De Santis and Mario Serandrei are credited as the film’s “coordinating directors.”
One wonders if this piece of work influenced Roberto Rossellini’s episodic Paisà (1946). Regardless, the two works could combine for a marvelous double-bill.