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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Ernst Lubitsch held the film in high regard as one of his best pieces of work. In a letter to a reviewer for the Philadelphia Enquirer who had panned the movie, he wrote, "What I have satirized in this picture are the Nazis and their ridiculous ideology. I have also satirized the attitude of actors who always remain actors regardless how dangerous the situation might be, which I believe is a true observation. It can be argued if the tragedy of Poland realistically portrayed in To Be or Not to Be can be merged with satire. I believe it can be and so do the audience which I observed during a screening of To Be or Not to Be; but this is a matter of debate and everyone is entitled to his point of view..." See more »
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 »
This comedy excels due to witty dialog and superior direction. Set against the backdrop of Hitler's invasion of Poland, due acknowledgment is made of the tragedy of that event. This was a wartime picture, after all. But the satire serves as a perfect antidote, and "To Be or Not To Be" is simultaneously funny and sharp. Right after I watched this movie, I wanted to watch it again--it was that entertaining. The stars and character actors were all superb. Having Jack Benny play the lead was an inspired casting choice. Felix Bressart and Tom Dugan as Greenberg and Bronski, sort of the Rosencranz and Gildenstern of this movie, are hilarious. If you have not yet seen this movie, rent or buy it and treat yourself to a real gem!
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