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Norman Z. McLeod
This film was introduced as evidence when director Edward Dmytryk and writer Dalton Trumbo were hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was investigating them on suspicion of being Communists. Despite the film's many flag-waving speeches, the communal living arrangements of the ladies in the film was cited as evidence of how Dmytryk and Trumbo attempted to brainwash unsuspecting American moviegoers with Communist "propaganda". As even more damning "evidence", there was the use of the word "Comrade" in the title. See more »
When Chris comes around the hanging laundry in Jo's flashback, we hear the end of his whistling "You Made Me Love You," but his face is totally relaxed, and clearly not that of a person who is whistling. See more »
I suppose you don't think hoarding is very important.
Why don't you relax for a change. Do you think we're going to lose this war or win it, for that matter, on account of a box of lipsticks or a pound of bacon? You know better than that.
Well, if it was just one pound of bacon, I don't suppose it would make any difference. But what if 20 or 30 million other women did the same thing?
I have enough troubles of my own without worrying about 20 or 30 million dames I don't even know.
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Ginger Rogers was a much better actress than Dalton Trumbo was a writer (and she had much prettier legs).
In fact, in "Tender Comrade," Trumbo presents us with a puzzle: How could a writer responsible for so much hokey, amateurish dialogue (noted by other reviewers) ever get a reputation as being a great or even a good writer? I admit there were two bright spots in "Tender Comrade" that deserve appreciation for the writer: near the beginning, when two strangers comfort each other as their loved ones depart for the war, and when one character tells another how her marriage "proposal" came about.
Trumbo, though, being Trumbo later has a silly bit when Jo refers to the socialist plan the group adopts ("from each according to her ability ") as "democracy," further demonstrating his confusing of two different and distinct applications as the same.
"Democracy" is a more or less political term describing how leaders are chosen (if, for some reason, anyone wants leaders), and "socialism" is a more or less economic term and more or less philosophical term describing how material goods are more or less shared distributed, anyway. ("Socialism" means government ownership of the means of production, to be more pedantic.) There was nothing wrong with the democratically decided idea of voluntary communalism among the housemates, but if a viewer knows Trumbo's predilection for collectivism at least for others, though not so much for himself the whole scene is discomfiting.
(An excellent book that portrays Trumbo and others, and shows the dichotomy between what they preached, including sometimes in their scripts, and how they lived is "Hollywood Party: How Communism Seduced the American Film Industry in the 1930s and 1940s" by Lloyd Billingsley. It is probably the best book yet on that era. Read especially about Trumbo and his mansion and the lavish parties he loved to throw, even during the times the soldiers were dying.)
Jo's last monologue went on for too long, and really didn't say much it was apparently another failed attempt by Trumbo at being profound and dramatic.
But Ginger Rogers said a lot, even with Trumbo's words. She was a much, much better actress than she seems to be generally regarded. She was much, much more than a great dancer.
With all my complaints about Trumbo, his moronic politics, the lame plot, and his poor writing, still this is a pretty good movie.
It brings back, though not especially well, a particular time in American history.
One of the great ironies of that era: Trumbo waxed indignant about the Nazis and the war they instigated. Yet it is the politics of Trumbo and the other collectivists, Nazis and Communists and other kinds of socialists and fascists, that together created the climate that allowed the unmitigated horrors of World War II.
The collectivist notions that people are not sovereign individuals but are cogs in the machinery of the state, that they must obey their masters, that they must cheerfully march off to war, to kill and/or be killed, that led to the tens of millions of deaths.
Trumbo must share the blame for that evil. He was a vehement proponent of that vicious nonsense.
Still, the cast overcomes the weaknesses of the script. If you watch it on Turner Classic Movies, ignore Robert Osborne's ignorant introduction and closing comments, and concentrate on the people, on their concerns and their efforts at overcoming adversity, on how they deal with their menfolks' being in harm's way, on their daily difficulties, including rationing.
"Tender Comrade" is worth watching.
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