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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 16,092 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)

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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 Carole Lombard's death in a plane crash, the line "What can happen in a plane?" was deleted from the film. 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

[Stage Manager calls over Make-Up manager, unsatisfied with the actor's appearance]
Makeup Man: What's wrong with it?
Stage Manager: I don't know... it's not convincing. To me, he's just a man with a little mustache.
Makeup Man: But so is Hitler.
Crowd: [Mumbling in agreement]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Larry King Live: Episode dated 27 July 1993 (1993) 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

 
The Nazis have never been mocked better
20 December 2013 | by (wherever good films play) – See all my reviews

Comedies rarely stand the test of time - this one does: one of the funniest films I have ever seen.

When I was 16 (20 years ago, sigh...), this was re-released for a short time in a local art-house cinema, and my father insisted I go watching it with a friend. Well, teenagers don't normally line up to see 50 year old black and white comedies, but - man, was I glad I did!

This is a pitch black comedy that feels as fresh today as it must have then; in fact, this must have been kind of a shock in 1942. There are no cheesy clean characters or cringe-worthy lines: this is a firework of fast, witty dialogue with an edge and the sexiest, cleverest (and most morally ambiguous) female protagonist I have ever seen in a film before the "New Hollywod" era.

Even the structure and the way the story evolves are very modern; there are flashbacks and twists and turns that might be very common in contemporary films but must have seemed almost "avant-garde" at the time.

The biggest fun, of course, is how Lubitsch takes the pi** out of Hitler's blind, fanatic followers. I don't believe the Nazis have ever been mocked better than in this comedy masterpiece (and I only hope old Adolf has seen it, too). Mel Brooks' remake is not bad, but the original is simply killer.

See it, and then see it again (and again).

Priceless. 10 out of 10

Favorite films: http://www.IMDb.com/list/mkjOKvqlSBs/

Lesser-known Masterpieces: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls070242495/

Favorite TV-Shows reviewed: http://www.imdb.com/list/ls075552387/


18 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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