In January 2005, New York City went through "Third Reich Movie Madness" when the Film Forum on Houston St. unspooled HITLER'S HIT PARADE (03), a pastiche of Nazi pop culture film clips.
The critics rave: "The looking-glass world of German jazz and popular culture of the Third Reich. A remarkable collage of sounds and images!" "Monstrous & fascinating!" "Macabre & engrossing!" "Like watching people pirouette gaily off a cliff." Presented with the support of the Joan S. Constantiner Fund for Jewish and Holocaust Film.
The Anthology Films Archive (2nd St. & 32nd Ave) also had a campy German film festival the same month featuring HEIMAT and "7 (other) colorful kitschy melodramas!"
Released in November 1944, DIE FRAU MEINER TRAUME (The Woman Of My Dreams) was one of Nazi cinema's biggest moneymakers. The public, wading through rubble, and the conscripted, retreating military escaped for a few hours to dream with their eyes open. Hollywood is as much a state of mind as it is as a place, and it's brethren the world over churned out product almost as good as America's. This escapist musical comedy/romance is no exception, adhering closely to the Hollywood formula. I saw this film without dubbing or subtitles, and frankly didn't need them. The slim "rocky road to love" plot took a back seat to the songs and extravagant production numbers. The fact that it basically remakes Mae West's 1936 GO WEST YOUNG MAN makes the tale easy to follow.
Blonde goddess Marika Rökk plays Julia Koster, a ravishing red-headed musical revue star and her opening number, "At Night It Isn't Right To Be Alone", playing to a packed theater, is both an eye-popper and a jaw-dropper. Julia's a waterfront floozy in black satin skirt, red-roses and boa feathers who gets thrown around adaggio-style by dock-side thugs. It's not hard to see why these Teutonic gays, er guys, weren't serving in Hitler's SS as you watch them prance down stone steps in unison. They all hop in a taxi as Julia, on the roof, jumps in a hat-box and comes out a Gay Nineties belle a la Mae West. In an opulent saloon setting they finish with a flourish as Julia and chorus girls do a risqué can-can. In desperate need of a vacation, Julia and her maid (rubber-faced comedienne Grethe Weiser) duck out on her demanding musical director ...with Julia wearing only a lacy satin teddie, high-heels and a sable coat. They board a train with the director in hot pursuit, and when it stops in the middle of a snowy nowhere Julia steps out for some air. When the train pulls away she's stranded and while making her way to the top of an icy Bavarian peak she's caught in an explosion. An avalanche knocks her unconscious and she's found by Peter, an engineer (Wolfgang Lukschy), and his friend who carry her back to their chalet. Peter and his crew have been dynamiting the surrounding ice-caps and they have no idea the lovely young lady they found is Julia Koster, the pin-up dream girl of every red-blooded German male. A screwball battle of the sexes erupts between the diva and the engineer with the friend making "three's company". The story gets surprisingly sexy as Julia goes from teddie to men's pajamas and makes a seductive sarong from a shower curtain. She also smokes, drinks champagne, warbles sweet nothings to Peter and takes a rain-barrel bath. The jig is up when the radio plays Julia Koster's big musical hit and she grabs an accordion to sing it live for the all-male audience. Found by her maid and musical director, Julia goes back to the city to star in the revue "The Woman Of My Dreams" when Peter makes it clear no wife of his will be a music-hall revue star. The film's finale is a 15 minute knock-out rivaling MGM in recreating Florenz Ziegfeld. A lavish extravaganza that couldn't possibly fit on a theater's stage, it takes us all around the Axis world at that time. In white tie and tails, a male dreamer sits among columns and stairs as Julia appears as an apparition in diaphanous Greek gown doing a Sally Rand bubble dance for him. When she throws the bubble at him, he's transported to Imperial Japan with Julia as an Oriental Princess doing an ersatz Javanese ballet. The dreamer follows his phantom though Palace portals and comes out in sunny Spain. In a daring flamenco dress cut well below the navel, Julia dances seductively until the dreamer jumps from the parapets back to the columns and stairs. During intermission Julia and Peter's love dilemma begins to resolve itself and for the revues end's the musical continues with the dreamer envisioning a wedding with his dream goddess. In black tie and tails, with his bride in a low cut wedding gown, the dreamer waltzes into a surreal heaven through sunshine, clouds and chorus girls playing celestial harps. Wow.
Ravishing blonde musical sensation Marika Rökk (The Third Reich's Betty Grable) will take your breath away in garish Agfa-color. The propaganda in the film is minimal and isn't there at all if one prefers to believe it's not only an Aryan but an Alpha-male fantasy to possess a gorgeous hausfrau who gives up all for love. DIE FRAU MEINER FRAU can be summed up as rosy optimism for an evil regime with no future.
Goebbels must have loved it.
UFA film studios, Germany's largest and finest, spanned the years 1918 -1945. "The Woman Of My Dreams"DIE FRAU MEINER TRAUME was followed in 1945 by the color spectacle KOLBERG, an epic film made to urge the German people to fight to the death. With the military in shambles, Goebbels requisitioned over 185,000 soldiers from the Eastern front as extras. When KOLBERG had it's Berlin premiere on January 30, 1945, Hitler's thousand year Reich was exactly 12 years old and already in it's final days.