Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ginger Rogers: Tender Comrade (1943)


Tender Comrade (1943) was a Ginger Rogers vehicle showcasing the recent Oscar winner and RKO top draw. Tender Comrade costarred one of the studio's up-and-coming talents, Robert Ryan, who in 1947 would play his defining role in Crossfire. Both films were directed by future Hollywood Ten blacklistee Edward Dmytryk, while fellow future persona non grata, writer Dalton Trumbo, penned this World War II propaganda piece.

Tender Comrade--don't worry, no spoilers-- chronicles the lives of Jo Jones (Rogers) and her husband Chris (Ryan), Chris ships out overseas and Jo, who works at a defense plant, decides to pool her financial resources by sharing an apartment with two coworkers, and run in it "democratically." We are then teated to numerous propagandistic and emotionally manipulative plot elements, and heart strings are duly tugged. There's nothing really "red" about the film itself--other than the use of the word "comrade" in the title--considering the pro-democracy rhetoric that is laid on with a trowel, but Ginger's mother, Lela, objected to what she saw as socialistic dialogue. The dialogue was cut at her behest, and Tender Comrade succeeds at being nothing more than a homefront propaganda piece about "keeping one's chin up" during the tough times. Mrs. Miniver and Since You Went Away are similarly-themed films.

Since so much of Ginger's work is unavailable on DVD, this WWII curiosity is unlikely to get a release anytime soon. I think Rogers and Ryan made an interesting-looking couple, and wouldn't have minded seeing the two together again. It's also fun to see the pre-Crossfire Robert Ryan being so...nice! However, seeing Ginger in so many soapy tearjerkers in the post-Astaire years only makes me wish she'd have made some musicals of her own.

4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for talking about Ginger so often! I can't hear enough about my favorite person!

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  2. this movie is interesting in terms of its connection with the hollywood 10 but i agree that it was just AWFUL especially the last scene.

    and women equally sharing a home during wartime is CLEARLY communist propaganda. oy vey.

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  3. You couldn't find two more polite people than Robert Ryan and Ginger Rogers. They got along well, in spite of their EXTREME opposite political views, Ryan a left wing progressive and Ginger a far right winger. It speaks well for both of them.

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  4. John Smith: Robert Ryan was largely unknown in 1943 and Ginger was, well, Ginger! I doubt that Ryan would've argued politics--or anything else--with her. But you make a good point about their character.

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