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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 15,712 users  
Reviews: 92 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.

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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
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

After the shooting of this film was finished, Carole Lombard told many people that this film was the happiest experience of her career from start to finish. See more »

Goofs

When Maria types the memo to put under the pillow, she types two lines with a total of 18 keystrokes. However, the actual memo is four lines of about 80 plus keystrokes (not counting spaces). See more »

Quotes

Josef Tura: It's unbelievable! Unbelievable! I come home to find a man in the same boat with me and my wife says to me, "What does it matter?"
Lieutenant Stanislav Sobinski: But, Mr. Tura, it's the 'zero hour'.
Maria Tura: You certainly don't want me to waste a lot of time giving you a long explanation.
Josef Tura: No, but I think a husband is entitled to an inkling.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Dieu est grand, je suis toute petite (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Polonaise in A major, Op.40 No.3, 'Military'
(1838) (uncredited)
Written by Frédéric Chopin
Orchestral arrangement by Aleksandr Glazunov
Heard during the opening and closing credits
See more »

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User Reviews

Classic Satirical Comedy That Gets Even Better As It Goes Along
28 October 2004 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

Beneath all the one-liners and amusing gags, this classic comedy has an undertone of satire that is quite effective. Jack Benny plays his role with just the right amount of exaggeration for it to work perfectly, and he, Carole Lombard, and the rest of the cast help Ernst Lubitsch to tell a lively yet worthwhile tale. There are a few slow spots early in the movie, but after it hits its stride, everything fits together well.

Very few film-makers can make something like this succeed, because they take themselves too seriously. Lubitsch does not, and as a result this film provides a caricatured but relatively insightful portrayal of the Nazis, with a light-hearted yet appreciative look at those who opposed them in the occupied countries. The right kind of lighter touch can sometimes be more effective in commenting on important issues than the heavy, emotionally laden harangues that are all too common.

While providing good entertainment, this movie also brings out the Nazis' inherent insecurity, pettiness, and short-sightedness, while also demonstrating their growing capacity for destroying the innocent. For example, the wonderful character actor Sig Ruman is greatly entertaining as a Nazi bureaucrat, yet he also cleverly brings out the pathetic side of such persons.

Aside from a couple of good gags, it starts off just a little slowly. A lot of time is spent on Robert Stack's character, who is (through no fault of Stack's) not very interesting. Likewise, the subplot involving him and Lombard takes up a lot more time than it was worth. Other than that, though, it moves briskly, with many entertaining scenes while it develops the story. As the pace picks up, the members of Benny's acting troupe get some fine moments of their own, Benny himself has some fine scenes with several other characters, and everything builds up nicely towards a good finale.


26 of 41 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Greatest quote... lordxur
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