Citation: Von Papen, Manuel. “Keeping the Home Fires Burning? Women and the German Homefront Film 1940-1943.” Film History. Vol. 8.1 (Spring, 1996): pp. 44-63
Within this article, Von Papen attempts to depict what constitutes a home front film as well as their impact on Gemran society. He explains that the Home front film can be described as an entertainment film. Typically, the home front film is a love story, comedy, or entertainment film that serves as a reminder of everyday life. The author goes on to describe, in detail, the components of film that would constitute it as a home-front film. First, Von Papen explains that the plot must contain a love story between a man off at war and a woman back at home, holding down the fort. Next, he explains that the woman must be employed in occupations such as a conductress, auxiliary nurse, or actress, and emphasizes the fact that, in home front film, women are always looking for a man. He further describes the crucial components of home front films by focusing on the fact that women in the films typically go through a learning process during wartime in which they come to recognize that their own private happiness may have to be put on hold for the greater good of their man and country. Additionally, the author reiterates that idea that, in home front film, lthere is little mention of the hardship of the war; rather, there is a positive mentality that is maintained throughout the films. Finally, it is noted that these films embody romances which stand the test of time and separation and end up with the lovers finding each other again after some time.
In his observation of Wunschkonzert, the author focuses on the fact that the film depicts war in a very light manner. For example, he includes the fact that soldiers within the film are always seen enjoying a musical performance or even their own engagement party, or seen writing letters to loved ones back home. In addition, the author emphasizes that only one death occurs in the film and the death is seen as positive due to the fact that the character suffered death in the name of his country.
This article helps us to fully gain knowledge on the aspects of the film that categorize Wunschkonzert as a home-front film. Indeed, the romance between Inge and Herbert fall under the criteria stated above and Inge plays the role of a faithful lover who is willing to stand the test of time and support the war efforts in the name and honor of her fighting lover. In addition, the author’s description of the lighthearted approach to war in the film proves to an even greater extent the way in which this film uses the notion of entertainment to show audiences that war does not have to be seen as aggression or violent fight against an enemy; instead, the film aims at demonstarting the importance of staying optimistic, loyal, and proud of not only their fighting loved ones but also Germany as a whole.
Crowther, Bosley. "Screen: No 'Philadelphia Story,' This; 'High Society' Lacks Hepburn Sparkle Sinatra, Crosby, Grace Kelly Are Starred." The New York Times. 10 April, 1956. New York Times Online Archives. 7 April 2008.
New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther delivers a discontented review of "High Society" in this newspaper article. Not a huge fan of the film, he bemoans its ill-selected cast and tedious delivery of an originally delightful plot. One thing Crowther somewhat enjoys in this film is its musical score and songs. He praises the skill Louis Armstrong and his band as well as the numbers performed by Frank Sinatra and Bill Crosby. The points Crowther harps on are the miscast roles of Grace Kelly as Tracy Lord and Bill Crosby as C.K. Dexter-Haven. He complains that they seem unnatural in their parts and compares Kelly to Katherine Hepburn who played Tracy Lord in 1940s non-musical version of the story, "The Philadelphia Story". Crowther draws comparisons between - in his mind - 1940s far superior "The Philadelphia Story" and 1956s much duller "High Society". He notes that "High Society" manages to entertain as a "handsomely set and costumed film" but continues to find more merit in the earlier film.
One interesting shift to notice in this review is the way Crowther refers to rich upper classes in this film, how his attitude towards the cultural elite has changed. He describes the movie as "documenting the weird behavior of the socially elite" in words containing far less of the affection Crowther showed towards depictions of the upper classes in his review of "The Philadelphia Story". He even says that the best song in the film is the one that is "a spoof of the haughty and blasé". Crowther, and by extension some of America's, socio-cultural attitude had shifted from 1940 to 1956. A movie review of the same story, written by the same author, for the same newspaper receives the messages of the film quite differently sixteen years later. Spoofing the "weird" elite has become more enjoyable than watching them prance around in their finery trying to sort out their charmed lives.
Crowther, Bosley. "The Screen: a Splendid Cast Adorns the Screen Version of 'the Philadelphia Story' At the Music Hall." The New York Times 27 Dec. 1940. New York Times Archives. Philadelphia. 7 Apr. 2008.
Bosley Crowther gives "The Philadelphia Story" a glowing review in this article for the New York Times movie section, published just two days after Christmas in 1940. Crowther unabashedly proclaims his love for the film hailing it as a holiday present from MGM to the American public. He points out that some of the psychological aspects of the plot are tenuous but exuses all of the imperfections of the film with a reminder of the superb acting of its main stars: Katherine Hepburn, Cary Grant, and James Stewart. Crowther most enjoys the admirable skill of the actors, witty repartee of the script, and opulent setting of "The Philadelphia Story".
The disparity of what is emphasized in a film review written in 1940 as opposed to one written in the twenty-first century is interesting to note. Mention of the movie theater where the reviewer saw the film, like the one Crowther makes, is no longer a widely practiced convention, for example. Crowther describes the film as "a sleek new custom-built comedy with fast lines and the very finest Hollywood setting", in short, the perfect screwball comedy. Perhaps the most important facet to analyze in this review is the acute awareness of the class issues embedded in the film take up much of the two pages of this review when printed out. This serves as proof that even in the forties Americans were cognizant of how much they enjoyed to watch, mock, but really revel in the lives of the rich and famous. Crowther notes that the film is "a straight upper-crust fable, an unblushing apologia for plutocracy" which depicts with pleasure "the trials and tribulations of the rich". He even goes so far as to warn viewers that those who have a low tolerance for the incredibly wealthy should avoid seeing the film. Crowther concludes with a quote from George Cukor though that says, in a statement wholly indicative of the popularity of films like "The Philadelphia Story", that one of "the prettiest sights in this pretty world is the privileged classes enjoying their privileges". Is this film a tad over-the-top? Yes, that was readily admitted even in 1940; but does this make "The Philadelphia Story" any less enjoyable? On the contrary. Its unapologizing depiction of a whirlwind Philadelphia weekend is a joy to watch.
Call#: Van Pelt Library Ormandy Music and Media Center Vic. 602612 CD
Call#: Van Pelt Library Ormandy Music and Media Center Naxos 8110936 CD
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Call#: Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks HD7293 .A486 1942
Call#: Van Pelt Library Folio HD7293 .A5 1940m