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Tender Comrade

Tender Comrade(1944)

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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 Hollywood Reporter 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 Los Angeles Times review and the final script dated September 4, 1943, this ending was shown at the film's Los Angeles premiere on December 29, 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 Hollywood Reporter, in January 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 August 1943 news item in Hollywood Reporter 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 New York Times 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, for Crossfire. Olivia De Havilland and June Duprez starred in a January 22, 1945 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of the story.