MOVIEmeter
SEE RANK
Up 299 this week

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, War  |  6 March 1942 (USA)
8.2
Your rating:
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
Ratings: 8.2/10 from 17,289 users  
Reviews: 98 user | 64 critic

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy.

Director:

Writers:

(original story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
0Check in
0Share...

On Disc

at Amazon

IMDb Picks: May

Visit our IMDb Picks section to see our recommendations of movies and TV shows coming out in May, sponsored by COVERGIRL.

Visit the IMDb Picks section

User Lists

Related lists from IMDb users

a list of 49 titles
created 01 Jan 2011
 
a list of 30 titles
created 29 Jul 2011
 
a list of 47 titles
created 02 Sep 2012
 
a list of 23 titles
created 31 Dec 2013
 
a list of 42 titles
created 26 May 2014
 

Related Items

Connect with IMDb


Share this Rating

Title: To Be or Not to Be (1942)

To Be or Not to Be (1942) on IMDb 8.2/10

Want to share IMDb's rating on your own site? Use the HTML below.

Take The Quiz!

Test your knowledge of To Be or Not to Be.

User Polls

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A gentleman thief and a lady pickpocket join forces to con a beautiful perfume company owner. Romantic entanglements and jealousies confuse the scheme.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A bad Polish actor is just trying to make a living when what should intrude but World War II in the form of an invasion. His wife has the habit of entertaining young Polish officers while ... See full summary »

Director: Alan Johnson
Stars: Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Ronny Graham
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand one another, without realizing that they're falling in love through the post as each other's anonymous pen pal.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan
Ninotchka (1939)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business finds herself attracted to a man who represents everything she is supposed to detest.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire
Romance | Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A scatterbrained socialite hires a vagrant as a family butler...but there's more to Godfrey than meets the eye.

Director: Gregory La Cava
Stars: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

An old roué arrives in Hades to review his life with Satan, who will rule on his eligibility to enter the Underworld.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Gene Tierney, Don Ameche, Charles Coburn
The Lady Eve (1941)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A trio of classy card sharps targets the socially awkward heir to brewery millions for his money, till one of them falls in love with him.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about Life...which gives him a rude awakening.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A woman cannot decide between two men who love her, and the trio agree to try living together in a platonic friendly relationship.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins
Comedy | Fantasy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.8/10 X  

Circa 1861, Angelina, ruling countess of an Italian principality, is at a loss when invaded by a Hungarian army. Her lookalike ancestress Francesca, who saved a similar situation 300 years ... See full summary »

Directors: Ernst Lubitsch, Otto Preminger
Stars: Betty Grable, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Cesar Romero
Angel (1937)
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Woman and her husband take separate vacations, and she falls in love with another man.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Marlene Dietrich, Herbert Marshall, Melvyn Douglas
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard "Baby."

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
Felix Bressart ...
Greenberg
...
Stanley Ridges ...
Sig Ruman ...
Tom Dugan ...
Bronski
Charles Halton ...
George Lynn ...
Actor-Adjutant
...
Maude Eburne ...
Anna
Halliwell Hobbes ...
Gen. Armstrong
...
Edit

Storyline

In occupied Poland during WWII, a troupe of ham stage actors (led by Joseph Tura and his wife Maria) match wits with the Nazis. A spy has information which would be very damaging to the Polish resistance and they must prevent it's being delivered to the Germans. Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

6 March 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ser o no ser  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Final film of Carole Lombard. See more »

Goofs

When Tura is disguised as Colonel Ehrhardt in his meeting with Siletsky he is wearing the uniform of a Major General (actually an SS-Gruppenfuehrer). See more »

Quotes

Josef Tura: I went to Dobosh and told him when he advertises the new play to put your name first.
Maria Tura: Did you, darling? Oh, that's sweet of you, but I really don't care.
Josef Tura: That's what Dobosh said, so we left it as it was.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Tatort: Hinkebein (2012) See more »

Soundtracks

German National Anthem (Das Lied der Deutschen)
(1797) (uncredited)
(Also called "Deutschland über alles")
Music by Joseph Haydn (1797)
Lyrics by August Heinrich Hoffman von Fallersleben (1841)
Sung by German military men
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
An early classic war-time spoof of the enemy
6 November 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I recall the first time I saw this movie – how I was gripped by the humor, then by the intrigue about what came next, then by concern that Carol Lombard would be found out, and then back to the humor again. This film has considerable darting between its emotion-inducing scenes. That makes it all the more a great satire and comedy. Of course, I knew it was to be a comedy. What else could it be with Jack Benny and Carole Lombard? Still, a somewhat zany story, with great screen writing and equally great direction by Ernst Lubitsch, was able to hold sway over my viewing.

Then we add superb acting all around. Carol Lombard is excellent in her role as Maria Tura. Her humorous lines are very good, but as in many other films, her "straight man" role plays perfectly with Jack Benny's Joseph Tura. His are the exaggerated blown-up lines, side glances, smirks and assorted facial expressions that ignite our uproarious laughter. Since my first viewing, I now watch this film for the pure humor and satire, and I watch for the many little subtleties that I often miss in such clever films on first viewing. And, they're not all by the main stars.

The movie has several top-flight supporting actors of its day. They are the source of many of the laughs. Most are members of the Polish theater group. Felix Bressart plays Greenberg, Tom Dugan plays Bronski, Charles Halton plays Producer Dobosh, and Lionel Atwill plays Rawitch. Viewers knew for sure that the role of SS Col. Ehrhardt would not be too stern or serious – with Sig Ruman in the role. Robert Stack is very good in his role as Polish pilot, Lt. Stanislav Sobinski, and Stanley Ridges does well in the straightest role of the film, as Professor Siletsky.

"To Be or Not to Be" is one of a very small number of films that are genuine satire. Of course, satire is comedy and humor. But it can also be dramatic, action-filled, pathos, empathy and mystery or intrigue. It is most often a combination of these. The comedy is often the release or relief from what the story would be without it. The genius of comedy- satire is its ability to make audiences laugh by its treatment of a subject that most often is not otherwise very funny. Satire can cover any and all aspects of life, but the very best – and that with unquestionably wide appeal – is political satire. That's what we have in "To Be or Not to Be."

This film is a must for any movie library. It may not be as funny to younger audiences who haven't yet studied the history of the World War II period. The film was made in 1941, before the U.S. entered the war. Because America was still neutral, this movie was considered too controversial so it was held back. It was finally scheduled for release in April, 1942, Then a sad event preceded its opening when Carol Lombard was killed in a plane crash in February. She was just 33 years old.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Message Boards

Recent Posts
Greatest quote... lordxur
Mel Brooks's remake gives this film a bad name tunatomatoe
Has anyone noticed the appointment list? jcabc3596
Carole Lombard is so wonderful in this film willowz_girl
Any sign of a region 2 DVD? Django44
courageous stevenvh
Discuss To Be or Not to Be (1942) on the IMDb message boards »

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?