Tender Comrade (1943)

Ginger Rogers in Tender Comrade (1943)

The Army Wives

With her husband Chris (Robert Ryan) overseas fighting, Jo Jones (Ginger Rogers) keeps things running back at home, working in the factory and managing rations. But she is not alone and some of her colleagues and friends are in the same boat with their husbands all involved in the war effort overseas. These friends decide to support each other by not only pooling their rations but also moving in together.

"Tender Comrade" is two movies shoe horned in to one and only one of those movies really works. That movie is the story of Chris and Jo and starts with a series of beautiful scenes as Chris returns home for a few hours before he has to head off. These scenes are beautiful, emotional, touching, humorous and even a little sexy when Jo wears Chris's army jacket when she wakes up. Throughout the movie we learn more about Jo and Chris via a series of flashbacks and it is full of tender moments although tender moments with the melodramatic edge which you got from 1940s movies with dialogue which now sounds completely false.

Robert Ryan in Tender Comrade (1943)

The thing is that whilst we have this melodrama we also have the drama of these women deciding to move in together as they could be there for each other and as such we have a diverse bunch of women who are all there to present a different aspect of war. As such we have a newly married wife, one whose marriage has hit rocky ground and so on. The trouble is that this diversity makes it extremely manufactured and that is worsened by the message filled dialogue which each of the women has to deliver.

It is a shame that so much of "Tender Comrade" ends up having that manufactured feel because at the same time it does touch on what life was like for the women left home during the war and the difficulties they faced. In fact "Tender Comrade" reminds me in some ways of the movies which were coming out of Britain just prior to this about the women who were keeping the home fires burning.

What this all boils down to is that "Tender Comrade" has some good things going on such as when it focuses on Chris and Jo and their relationship but then at times feels manufactured by having the diversity of characters under just one roof.