Wunschkonzert/Request Concert DVD Review by Blaine Taylor

Wunschkonzert/Request Concert  DVD Review by Blaine Taylor

The setting is the 11th Olympiad of the summer 1936 Olympics at Berlin’s new stadium that survived the bombing of the Second World War and still stands intact today.

Two young people meet by chance outside: lovely Inge Wagner (played by Ilse Werner) and Luftwaffe/Air Force Lt. Herbert Koch (portrayed by actor Karl Raddatz.) They fall in love, and he promises to keep in touch with her, but three days later is ordered to Spain on a secret mission, required not to contact anyone. Thus, the would-be lovers are separated, again, by chance.

In 1939, with the onset of World War II, Propaganda Minister Dr. Josef Gobbels’ State-controlled radio began broadcasting its very popular Wunschkonzert fur die Wehrmacht/Request Concerts for the Armed Forces series that played soldiers’ requested tunes over the radio. Remembering the girl that he both won and lost, Herbert asks for the still famous Olympic fanfare, and---eventually---the tune brings them back together via a mutual acquaintance in a most surprising way.

There is also a subplot in which two soldier pals journey to the big city to showcase their own talent, but get mixed up at the very last minute that is both comical and all too true in real life.

The inspiration for the popular film came from Dr. Gobbels himself, and he commissioned the famed Ufa Films---the Third Reich’s premier movie production house---to issue the Staatsauftragsfilm/State-produced film. Made with the goal of capitalizing on the popular radio program that linked the battlefronts to the home front with their loved ones, the movie amply demonstrates the power of Dr. Gobbel’s radio-based propaganda war.

What sets this artfully filmed and engaging production apart is its clever splicing of fiction with authentic period newsreel and documentary film footage with actual events. Here we see Hitler’s famous arrival by Mercedes-Benz 770K car at the Berlin Stadium in 1936, Spanish Civil War newsreel footage of 1936-39, and also a truly rousing battlefield montage of soldiers enjoying the Request Concert.

This entertaining and engaging musical also features catchy numbers by some of the Third Reich’s leading stars: Marika Rokk, Paul Horbiger, and Heinz Ruhlmann. Not too surprisingly, the film was the second biggest box office success of the war, screened by over 20 million viewers, grossing 7,200,000 Reich marks, and earning a profit margin of 4,239,000 RM even before foreign sales were calculated. This is a film that will be enjoyed by the whole family.

Wunschkonzert/Request Concert

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