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To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Passed  |   |  Comedy, War  |  6 March 1942 (USA)
8.3
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 17,046 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.

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(original story), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Title: To Be or Not to Be (1942)

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

 »
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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  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on January 18, 1943 with Sig Ruman reprising his film role. 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

Maria Tura: No, no, no. I think we've talked much too much about me. Tell me about yourself.
Lieutenant Stanislav Sobinski: Well, there isn't much to tell. I just fly a bomber.
Maria Tura: Oh, how perfectly thrilling!
Lieutenant Stanislav Sobinski: I don't know about it being thrilling. But it's quite a bomber. You might not believe it, but I can drop three tons of dynamite in two minutes.
Maria Tura: Really?
Lieutenant Stanislav Sobinski: Does that interest you?
Maria Tura: It certainly does.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Hollywood Hist-o-Rama: Carole Lombard (1961) 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 »

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User Reviews

Witty and mocking
20 September 2003 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Joseph Tura and his wife are part of an actors troop in pre-WW2 Poland. When a handsome young pilot is forced to break off his affair with Mrs Tura to go to England and join the RAF, he sends a message through an English agent who offers to take messages to families of all the pilots when he goes to Poland. Realising too late that Professor Siletsky is a double agent taking addresses to the Nazi's, Lt Sobinski alerts Tura who is forced to play several roles to try and outwit the Nazi's and protect the underground resistance.

Despite having heard it mentioned (and avoided the remake) I had still never seen this film until earlier today. I wasn't sure what to expect as I knew that it had been made during the war and that it's humour might not seem as mocking or sharp today. However I was surprised how funny it actually was while it also dealt with the Nazi issue at the same time. The mocking tone of the film is balanced nicely by a real vein of wit with sharp word play all around. The plot is kept ticking over by this humour until Tura is able to drive the film by his many performances!

The Nazi's are mocked without taking away from the horrors of what they were. The cast are what really makes the film work for me though. Although he takes second billing, I can't help but feel that Benny is the star of the film as he has all the best characters and the lion's share of the lines. Lombard does very well indeed and shows a real ability for quick witty lines – the fact that she died in a plane crash leaving this her last movie should be considered a great loss. The whole support cast, whether Polish actor or German commander, all play very well managing to bring both wit and pathos to the film.

Overall a film that is not as uncomfortable to watch as I suspected it might have been, in fact one that is downright hilarious at times and has all the sharpness and wit that I want in a comedy. When Jack Benny says `so they call me Concentration Camp Ehrhardt' for the 5th time, I defy you not to be rolling!


25 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Greatest quote... lordxur
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