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 »
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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 <email@example.com>
Miriam Hopkins was the original choice for Maria Tura. According to Ben Mankiewicz on TCM, she turned the role down when she realized Jack Benny had all the laughs and her part would largely be his straight man. Lombard saw the overall quality of the material and took the part. See more »
In the scene early in the movie when Carole Lombard is arguing with the play director about her dress, they begin onstage, in the Gestapo office set. At one point the director switches to a closer shot and they are suddenly backstage, facing in entirely different directions than they were onstage. See more »
Having seen most of Ernst Lubitsch American films, we had missed this one because it's not played often these days. "To Be, or not to Be" is a wonderful satire that only a director like Lubitsch, with his European background could have pulled. The film is a good comedy that seems to has kept some of its freshness intact.
The film works because of the great contribution of Jack Benny and Carole Lombard, who sadly, died before the film had its premiere. They play the Turas, a Polish theatrical couple that foresee the Nazi invasion of their country.
In fact, Jack Benny, a man associated as a comedian, first on radio, then on television, was an actor with an uncanny sense of timing. Mr. Benny was a natural for this type of comedy, as he proves in the film. His pairing with Carole Lombard was a stroke of genius. In fact, for being associated to lighter fare, he demonstrates with his take on Joseph Tura, he was an actor of stature.
Carole Lombard is seen as Maria Tura, a grand dame of the Polish theater. Ms. Lombard gave a marvelous performance and her contribution to the success of this film is amazing. Robert Stack is seen as the pilot Sobinski. Other faces in the cast include Felix Bressard, Lionel Atwill, Sig Ruman, George Lynn, and others that are perfect under Ernst Lubitsch guidance.
This is a film to be treasured because of the work of Jack Benny and the impeccable direction of Ernst Lubitsch.
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