Tender Comrade (1944)

101-102 mins | Drama | 1944

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HISTORY

The film opens with the following poem titled "My Wife" written by Robert Louis Stevenson: "Teacher, Tender Comrade, Wife. A fellow farer true through life. Heart-whole and soul-free. The August Father gave to me." A news item in HR credits Harold Lewis as assistant director, but his participation in the released film has not been confirmed. Materials contained in the RKO Archives Production Files at the UCLA Arts Library-Special Collections add that Katina Paxinou was originally slated to play the role of "Manya." Ruth Hussey was borrowed from M-G-M and Kim Hunter from David O. Selznick's company to appear in this film. Modern sources credit John Miehle with still photography. According to materials contained in the RKO Archives Script Files at the UCLA Arts Library-Special Collections, RKO shot several different endings for this film. The picture originally concluded with "Jo's" "Little Guy" speech to her baby. According to the LAT review and the final script dated 4 Sep 1943, this ending was shown at the film's Los Angeles premiere on 29 Dec 1943. Although the film was not nationally released until mid-1944, RKO screened the film in Los Angeles in 1943 in order to qualify Rogers' performance for an Academy Award. (She did not receive an award or nomination.)
       According to a news item in HR , in Jan 1944, the studio decided to shoot new footage to emphasize the "chin-up" qualities that motivate "Jo" to continue her job as a war-worker despite the tragedy that has befallen her. In one of the endings contained in the Script Files, after learning of "Chris's" death, Jo joins ... More Less

The film opens with the following poem titled "My Wife" written by Robert Louis Stevenson: "Teacher, Tender Comrade, Wife. A fellow farer true through life. Heart-whole and soul-free. The August Father gave to me." A news item in HR credits Harold Lewis as assistant director, but his participation in the released film has not been confirmed. Materials contained in the RKO Archives Production Files at the UCLA Arts Library-Special Collections add that Katina Paxinou was originally slated to play the role of "Manya." Ruth Hussey was borrowed from M-G-M and Kim Hunter from David O. Selznick's company to appear in this film. Modern sources credit John Miehle with still photography. According to materials contained in the RKO Archives Script Files at the UCLA Arts Library-Special Collections, RKO shot several different endings for this film. The picture originally concluded with "Jo's" "Little Guy" speech to her baby. According to the LAT review and the final script dated 4 Sep 1943, this ending was shown at the film's Los Angeles premiere on 29 Dec 1943. Although the film was not nationally released until mid-1944, RKO screened the film in Los Angeles in 1943 in order to qualify Rogers' performance for an Academy Award. (She did not receive an award or nomination.)
       According to a news item in HR , in Jan 1944, the studio decided to shoot new footage to emphasize the "chin-up" qualities that motivate "Jo" to continue her job as a war-worker despite the tragedy that has befallen her. In one of the endings contained in the Script Files, after learning of "Chris's" death, Jo joins her fellow workers at the plant. The final released version of the film ends with Jo's "chin-up speech" on the stairs followed by a long shot of "Jo" and "Chris" walking hand-in-hand on a hilltop.
       An Aug 1943 news item in HR notes that the studio considered changing the title for fear that the audience would think that the film was a story about Russia.
       In 1947, Rogers' mother, Lela Rogers, testifed at a HUAC hearing that screenwriter Dalton Trumbo was a Communist and that the film was an example of Communist propaganda. According to a 1947 NYT article, at that hearing, Robert Stripling, the committee investigator, testified that Rogers refused to say the lines "share and share alike-that's democracy" because she believed they contained Communist overtones. Trumbo and director Edward Dmytryk were members of the so-called "Hollywood 10," who refused to testify about Communist infiltration in the motion picture industry. For their refusal to cooperate, they were convicted of contempt of Congress and sentenced to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine. After his release from prison, Dmytryk went into self-imposed exile in England, where he directed three films. In 1951, he returned to the United States and gave testimony in the second round of committee hearings. As a result of that testimony, he was removed from the industry's blacklist. For additional information about HUAC, see above entry for Crossfire . Olivia De Havilland and June Duprez starred in a 22 Jan 1945 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story. More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
8 Jan 1944.
---
Daily Variety
29 Dec 43
pp. 3, 15
Film Daily
29 Dec 43
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
31 Aug 43
p. 3, 9
Hollywood Reporter
26 Nov 43
p. 5.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Dec 43
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Jan 44
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Jun 44
p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
30 Dec 1943.
---
Motion Picture Herald
1 Jan 1944.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Dec 43
p. 1635.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
1 Jan 44
p. 1693.
New York Times
2 Jun 44
p. 21.
New York Times
15 May 1947.
---
Variety
29 Dec 43
p. 8.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set dec
COSTUMES
Miss Rogers' cost des by
Gowns
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
STAND INS
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
Stand-in
DETAILS
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Los Angeles: 29 December 1943
Production Date:
13 August--27 October 1943
retakes 12 December 1943, 7 January--9 January 1944, 20 January 1944
Copyright Claimant:
RKO Radio Pictures, inc.
Copyright Date:
19 December 1943
Copyright Number:
LP12590
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
101-102
Length(in feet):
9,204
Country:
United States
PCA No:
9586
SYNOPSIS

Granted a one-night leave before being shipped out for overseas duty, soldier Chris Jones visits his wife Jo. After an affectionate reunion, Jo and Chris bid farewell at the train station and dream of the day that Chris will return home. Jo collapses, sobbing, as Chris's train departs, but composes herself enough to go to her job at the Douglas Aircraft Factory. While eating lunch with three of her fellow workers, Jo proposes that they pool their resources and rent a house together. The three women: Barbara Thomas, an embittered, unfaithful wife whose husband Pete is in the Navy; Doris Dumbrowski, whose sudden wedding to her soldier boyfriend on the eve of his overseas departure prevented them from consummating their marriage; and Helen Stacey, whose husband and son are both in the service, accept Jo's idea, and they move in together, vowing to run their household as a democracy. Alone in her bedroom that night, Jo looks longingly at Chris's photograph and fondly remembers the day he proposed: Jo is drying her hair in her parents' backyard when Chris comes to ask her to marry him. Although sweethearts since childhood, Jo accuses Chris of flirting with other girls and picks a fight with him. As Jo furiously brushes her hair, Chris finally convinces her to say yes. Jo's thoughts then return to the present and she drifts off to sleep. The next day, as the women struggle to clean house, they decide to advertise for a housekeeper. Manya, a German woman who left her homeland because her people "murdered democracy," applies for the job. When Manya tells them that her husband is fighting ... +


Granted a one-night leave before being shipped out for overseas duty, soldier Chris Jones visits his wife Jo. After an affectionate reunion, Jo and Chris bid farewell at the train station and dream of the day that Chris will return home. Jo collapses, sobbing, as Chris's train departs, but composes herself enough to go to her job at the Douglas Aircraft Factory. While eating lunch with three of her fellow workers, Jo proposes that they pool their resources and rent a house together. The three women: Barbara Thomas, an embittered, unfaithful wife whose husband Pete is in the Navy; Doris Dumbrowski, whose sudden wedding to her soldier boyfriend on the eve of his overseas departure prevented them from consummating their marriage; and Helen Stacey, whose husband and son are both in the service, accept Jo's idea, and they move in together, vowing to run their household as a democracy. Alone in her bedroom that night, Jo looks longingly at Chris's photograph and fondly remembers the day he proposed: Jo is drying her hair in her parents' backyard when Chris comes to ask her to marry him. Although sweethearts since childhood, Jo accuses Chris of flirting with other girls and picks a fight with him. As Jo furiously brushes her hair, Chris finally convinces her to say yes. Jo's thoughts then return to the present and she drifts off to sleep. The next day, as the women struggle to clean house, they decide to advertise for a housekeeper. Manya, a German woman who left her homeland because her people "murdered democracy," applies for the job. When Manya tells them that her husband is fighting in the U.S. Army and that she views keeping house for the four defense workers as part of her contribution to the war effort, the women decide to hire Manya and pool their earnings, splitting in five parts whatever is left after paying expenses. When the butcher sends the women an extra pound of bacon, Manya becomes indignant and denounces the idea of hoarding. After Barbara questions the necessity of rationing and preaches isolationism, Jo accuses her of not considering the consequences of her ideas. Their argument is interrupted when Barbara's date arrives. Although the others disapprove of Barbara's infidelity, she ignores their objections. Barbara is about to leave on her date when a radio broadcast announces the sinking of the aircraft carrier Yorktown during the Battle of Midway and names Pete as one of the sailors who is missing in action. The news upsets Barbara, who cancels her date, and makes Jo feel guilty about her harsh words. Later that night, while she talks to Chris's photograph, Jo confesses her regrets about snapping at Barbara and remembers the time her quick temper was aimed at her husband: One night after dinner, Jo feels ignored because Chris is reading a newspaper article. In a bid for attention, she tries to dig a splinter out of his hand with a needle, and when he suggests that she sew the missing buttons on his shirt instead, Jo has a tantrum and complains about his working long hours. After Chris explains that he is trying to save some money to insure her financial security when he goes to war, Jo issues him an ultimatum: either he works less or she will get a job. When Chris agrees to Jo's terms, they make up and Jo's thoughts return to the present. One afternoon, Jo skips work and when she returns home, she announces that she is pregnant. After giving birth to her son, whom she names Chris Jr., Jo gazes at Chris's photo and remembers the time that she was practicing diaper folding: After Jo explains to her surprised husband that she is not pregnant but bought the diapers for a friend's baby shower, Chris confides that he wants to postpone having a child because he fears that he will soon be drafted and wants to be present when the baby is born. Jo is brought back to the present by the sound of her baby's cries. When Jo returns home from the hospital, Barbara tells her that Pete has been located in a Honolulu hospital and vows to renew their marriage. Soon after, Helen receives a letter from her husband with the proud news that their son has been promoted to major. Next, Mike surprises Doris by coming home for an unexpected leave. Mike's presence reminds the other women of their missing husbands, and they scramble to cook him a meal consisting of their husbands' favorite dishes. As Mike and Doris share their first married evening together, the doorbell rings. Jo answers it and immediately knows that something is wrong when she is handed a telegram. Upstairs in her bedroom, Jo opens the telegram and reads the news that Chris has been killed in battle. Cradling her infant son, Jo remembers Chris's farewell words and shows the baby the photograph of his father. After comforting little Chris with the thought that his father died so that he could live in a better world, Jo leaves the room and tells herself that "she'll take it on the chin like a good guy, like a soldier's wife should." +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.