110 user 72 critic

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Not Rated | | Comedy, War | 6 March 1942 (USA)
During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy.



(original story), (screenplay)

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »


Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Ninotchka (1939)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business finds herself attracted to a man who represents everything she is supposed to detest.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the post as each other's anonymous pen pal.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan
Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A gentleman thief and a lady pickpocket join forces to con a beautiful perfume company owner. Romantic entanglements and jealousies confuse the scheme.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A woman cannot decide between two men who love her, and the trio agree to try living together in a platonic friendly relationship.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about life, which gives him a rude awakening.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick
The Lady Eve (1941)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A trio of classy card sharks targets the socially awkward heir to brewery millions for his money, until one of them falls in love with him.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A scatterbrained socialite hires a vagrant as a family butler...but there's more to Godfrey than meets the eye.

Director: Gregory La Cava
Stars: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

An old roué arrives in Hades to review his life with Satan, who will rule on his eligibility to enter the Underworld.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Gene Tierney, Don Ameche, Charles Coburn
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

At the onset of WW2, a Polish actor's family and the Polish Resistance help the troupe of a theatre escape Poland and the invading Nazis.

Director: Alan Johnson
Stars: Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Ronny Graham
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
The Conductor (1980)
Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A violinist in a provincial Polish orchestra, whose husband is the director of the ensemble, on a visit to the US ties up with the world- renowned symphony conductor. As it turns out he was... See full summary »

Director: Andrzej Wajda
Stars: John Gielgud, Krystyna Janda, Andrzej Seweryn
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An inventor needs cash to develop his big idea. His wife, who loves him, decides to raise it for him by divorcing him and marrying a millionaire.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Joel McCrea, Mary Astor


Complete credited cast:


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 | Plot Synopsis


Comedy | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

6 March 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ser o no ser  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Carole Lombard took the female lead despite the strenuous objections of her husband, Clark Gable. 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 »


Maria Tura: [Talking about the aviator who sent the flowers] It's true, Anna, I don't know who it is. But I'm positive who it might be.
Anna: You mean that young aviator?
Maria Tura: Yes, he's very young. He's in the second row again. He gets better-looking every night... Don't misunderstand me. I love my husband dearly, and why not? He's wonderful. Only he gets so unreasonable, so upset about little things.
Anna: Like the little thing in the second row.
See more »


Referenced in Train of Life (1998) See more »


Polonaise in A major, Op. 40, No. 1, 'Military'
(1838) (uncredited)
Written by Frédéric Chopin
Orchestral arrangement by Aleksandr Glazunov
Heard during the opening and closing credits
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Playing Hamlet in Poland
11 November 2005 | by See all my reviews

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.

23 of 45 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 110 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page