Sep 10, 2010

Tender Comrade (1943) or one of the worst films I've seen this year

Introduction: Well, this is one of the few times that I didn’t like a movie starring Ginger Rogers. Even when I think that Dalton Trumbo (“Roman Holiday”) was a great screenwriter I think he failed to correctly tell this story and director Edward Dmytryk didn’t help very much with the audiovisual resources he chose. More than that, seems that this movie was edited after the opening, altering its ending (maybe it was better before). This is not really a film review because I tell the whole movie, it’s more a critic to the movie structure. I know, it’s ironic but believe me I’m not making fun of its creators or their beliefs, just of how the movie ended to be. 

Tender Comrade is a film about how war was lived by the ones who had to stay at home. I guess at that time it maybe helped  women in the US to realize they were not alone, to give them strength and to reaffirm a patriotic feeling. It's just that in my opinion the movie is a mess. 
Ginger Rogers plays a worker whose husband (played very dully by Robert Ryan) had a free night and came to see her. Only when he goes she realizes that her apartment is too tiny and she convinces some of her workmates to rent a house and live together.

But don’t expect anything like” Stage Door”. These women are kind of repetitive and stereotyped: Ginger is the leader always making ballots and asking the youngest girl (Kim Hunter) how does her husband look and how he proposed just because “it’s fun”. This younger girl is always very soft and sweet and giggles all the time etc. There’s also an older woman (Patricia Collinge) who has a husband and a son fighting in the war. 
So, what conflict could be between these nice girls? None! So what do we need? Exactly: a sassy woman/friend (Ruth Hussey) that dates any man around even when her hubby is in the war. So, everyone criticizes her because of her loose morals and that also gives Ginger’s character one of the many opportunities to give a long speech…

Uhm, this is not very fun yet. What can we add to this movie intended for lonely women in the US? Exactly: romance. But all the men are overseas! Well, that’s easy: you make the girls talk with the pictures of their hubbies (really). Oh, we can also use a little thing called “flashbacks”. Yeah, every now and then make Ginger remember her love story, since he proposed and she was annoying. Oh, I have another great idea: before each memory let’s put a splendorous image of their figures like in sunny a valley. That’s great. Oh, oh, and let’s add some of the most corny-romantic music...

...and we're done. 
Uhm. but I think we mixed too many things. I mean, how will the audience know what is this movie about? Are we going to tell the story of a bunch of girls managing to survive in the middle of the war? Are we going to tell the story of Ginger and her husband? Uhm, whatever.

Ginger Rogers in Period Costume Nightgown in TENDER COMRADE 1943

[spoiler] Well, we have almost ¾ of our movie, how can we end it? Let's scare the sassy girl with the news that her husband is dead. Great idea, that way she realizes that she loves him. Also, let's bring the famous hubby of the young girl to have dinner with her. Cool. Hey, let's make something really dramatic. Something like Ginger having a baby. Yes that's great! But it's not very dramatic. I mean maybe if Ginger's husband has some injure…or maybe…let's kill him! That's perfect, but we still have 7 minutes to fill, what can we do? I have a brilliant idea: maybe poor Ginger can learn a seven minutes speech to her baby while we insert some of her husband lines. Terrific. Oh, oh, please end it with one of the splendorous image of their figures like in sunny a valley. OK. [/spoiler]


  1. Clara: I do not have Ginger’s book at hand but as I recall she wrote about this film that she resented being fed lines that espoused a political philosophy to which she was opposed. She did not want to be used. Best. Gerald.

  2. Gerald: Thanks for stopping by. I read something about that. As far as I recall, Ginger never said any speech with a communist vision in this movie, just patriotic (and endless) speeches. What she didn't like was the lines about "Share and share alike" and they were given to another actress. Seems that she and her mother exaggerated their allegations against people like Kim Hunter. I think that is just sad how the things in general ended for these accused people, blacklisted, unable to work (Hunter, Christians) and even in prison (Trumbo).



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