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Tender Comrade

Tender Comrade(1944)

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Remind Me

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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."