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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 16,085 users  
Reviews: 94 user | 63 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 »
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Airs Mon. Oct. 06, 12:30 PM on TCM

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Title: To Be or Not to Be (1942)

To Be or Not to Be (1942) on IMDb 8.3/10

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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
Henry Victor ...
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

According to the book 'The United Artists Story' by Ronald Bergan, " Unfortunately, at its release, Pearl Harbor had been attacked, Germany was sweeping across Europe, and the film's star, Carole Lombard, was killed in a plane crash while on a war-bond selling tour. Therefore, neither critics nor public were in the mood to laugh, finding the picture tasteless and callous. Over the years, however, it recovered its production costs and became a classic." 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

[repeated line]
Joseph Tura: [disguised as Colonel Ehrhardt] So they call me Concentration Camp Ehrhardt?
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Un genio en apuros (1983) 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

 
Fascism Is a Farce
5 August 2014 | by (Earth) – See all my reviews

It's August 1939 in Warsaw, Poland. A theatre group led by popular stage actress Carole Lombard (as Maria Tura) and her hammy husband Jack Benny (as Joseph Tura) rehearse their funny Nazi play "Gestapo" – eventually, they're ordered to cancel the comedy due to the risk of offending Adolph Hitler, the German dictator then invading countries and disposing of their Jewish citizens in concentration camps. However, they are allowed to continue performing Shakespeare's "Hamlet". During the performance, Ms. Lombard agrees to meet handsome young fan Robert Stack (as Stanislav Sobinski), when Mr. Benny begins his soliloquy "To Be or Not to Be…" A bomber for the RAF, Mr. Stack fancies himself in love with Lombard. She enjoys the attention, but warns Stack she is a married woman. When Hitler invades Poland, Stack returns to Britain. There, he discovers a plot to exterminate the Warsaw resistance. Stack parachutes to Poland and involves Lombard, Benny and their theatre company in an effort stop the Nazis...

Deftly directed by Ernst Lubitsch, "To Be or Not to Be" was unusual in that it treated the Nazis in a farcical manner. Funny Nazis during World War II did not amuse everyone. Echoing this film's repeated "Heil Hitler!" salute, the popular TV series "Hogan's Heroes" was criticized for finding humor in the subject – three decades later. Also a downer, Lombard tragically died in a plane crash before this, her last film, was released. Her performance is marvelous. Standout co-star Benny and everyone involved can count "To Be or Not to Be" as a career peak. In 1983, the film received a high profile re-male by Mel Brooks' company. While not superior to this version, Mr. Brooks' film was quite enjoyable. It did correct a minor flaw in this version – plot transitions aren't always smooth. For example, Stack appears in Lombard's bed after a long run around Warsaw; without a clue about what is happening, we see her take over his mission. By all means, see both versions – but start with this one. Laughter is still the best medicine.

********* To Be or Not to Be (2/15/42) Ernst Lubitsch ~ Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack, Sig Ruman


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