IMDb > To Be or Not to Be (1942)
To Be or Not to Be
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To Be or Not to Be (1942) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

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8.3/10   16,453 votes »
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Down 36% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Melchior Lengyel (original story)
Edwin Justus Mayer (screenplay)
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for To Be or Not to Be on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
6 March 1942 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Plot:
During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Awards:
Nominated for Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination See more »
NewsDesk:
(130 articles)
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User Reviews:
Swan Song in Warsaw See more (95 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Carole Lombard ... Maria Tura

Jack Benny ... Joseph Tura

Robert Stack ... Lieut. Stanislav Sobinski
Felix Bressart ... Greenberg

Lionel Atwill ... Rawitch
Stanley Ridges ... Professor Siletsky
Sig Ruman ... Col. Ehrhardt
Tom Dugan ... Bronski
Charles Halton ... Producer Dobosh
George Lynn ... Actor-Adjutant

Henry Victor ... Capt. Schultz
Maude Eburne ... Anna
Halliwell Hobbes ... Gen. Armstrong

Miles Mander ... Major Cunningham
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Rudolph Anders ... Gestapo Sergeant at Desk at Top of Hotel Stairs (uncredited)
Paul Barrett ... Polish RAF Pilot (uncredited)
Sven Hugo Borg ... German Soldier (uncredited)
Peter Caldwell ... Wilhelm Kunze (uncredited)
Alec Craig ... Scottish Farmer Without Mustache (uncredited)
Helmut Dantine ... Co-Pilot (uncredited)
Leslie Denison ... Captain (uncredited)
James Finlayson ... Scottish Farmer with Mustache (uncredited)
James Gillette ... Polish RAF Pilot (uncredited)
Leyland Hodgson ... Second Reporter (uncredited)
Shep Houghton ... German Soldier (uncredited)
Olaf Hytten ... Polonius in Warsaw (uncredited)
Charles Irwin ... Reporter (uncredited)
John Kellogg ... RAF Flyer (uncredited)
Adolf E. Licho ... Prompter (uncredited)
John Meredith ... English Wireless Operator (uncredited)
Maurice Murphy ... Polish RAF Pilot (uncredited)
Russ Powell ... Bystander (uncredited)

Frank Reicher ... Polish Official (uncredited)
Otto Reichow ... Co-Pilot (uncredited)

Gene Rizzi ... Polish RAF Pilot (uncredited)
Hans Schumm ... (uncredited)

Roland Varno ... Pilot (uncredited)
Ernö Verebes ... Stage Manager (uncredited)
Armand 'Curly' Wright ... Makeup Man (uncredited)
Wolfgang Zilzer ... Man in Bookstore (uncredited)

Directed by
Ernst Lubitsch 
 
Writing credits
Melchior Lengyel (original story)

Edwin Justus Mayer (screenplay)

Ernst Lubitsch  original story (uncredited)

Produced by
Ernst Lubitsch .... producer
 
Original Music by
Werner R. Heymann (musical score by)
 
Cinematography by
Rudolph Maté (photographed by)
 
Film Editing by
Dorothy Spencer (film editor)
 
Casting by
Victor Sutker 
 
Production Design by
Vincent Korda (production designed by)
 
Set Decoration by
Julia Heron (interior decoration)
 
Makeup Department
Gordon Bau .... makeup artist
 
Production Management
Walter Mayo .... production manager
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
William McGarry .... assistant director
William Tummel .... assistant director
 
Art Department
J. McMillan Johnson .... associate art director (as J. MacMillan Johnson)
Jack Caffey .... props (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Frank Maher .... sound
 
Special Effects by
Lawrence W. Butler .... special effects (as Lawrence Butler)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Irene .... costumes: Miss Lombard
 
Music Department
Miklós Rózsa .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
Eugene Zador .... orchestrator: Miklós Rózsa (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Alexander Korda .... presenter
Ryszard Ordynski .... technical supervisor (as Richard Ordynski)
 
Crew verified as complete


Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
99 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Certification:
Canada:PG (video rating) | Finland:S | France:U | Netherlands:6 | Netherlands:14 (original rating) (1947) | South Korea:12 (2003) | Sweden:15 | UK:A (original rating) | UK:U (tv rating) | UK:PG (video rating) (1988) (1997) | USA:Passed (National Board of Review) | USA:Approved (PCA #7834) | USA:TV-PG (TV rating) | West Germany:12

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:
Continuity: 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:Someone walked out on me. Tell me, Maria, am I losing my grip?
Maria Tura:Oh, of course not, darling. I'm so sorry.
Josef Tura:But he walked out on me.
Maria Tura:Maybe he didn't feel well. Maybe he had to leave. Maybe he had a sudden heart attack.
Josef Tura:I hope so.
Maria Tura:If he stayed he might have died.
Josef Tura:Maybe he's dead already! Oh, darling, you're so comforting.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Polonaise in A major, Op. 40, No. 1, 'Military'See more »

FAQ

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
37 out of 61 people found the following review useful.
Swan Song in Warsaw, 12 November 2005
Author: theowinthrop from United States

In 1940 the American public was shocked when Charlie Chaplin released his first all talkie movie THE GREAT DICTATOR, in which he lampooned Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. Despite the new European war, we were yet still at peace with both Axis states. Hollywood, with rare exceptions (BLOCKADE, CONFESSIONS OF A NAZI SPY, ESCAPE) had been gingerly tackling the Nazis and Fascists. Yet public reaction to THE GREAT DICTATOR was odd. It had a big box office success, and yet many were appalled because it chose to say Hitler could be laughed at. Chaplin's response was that if he had been laughed at to begin with he would never have become such a threat.

Actually other voices were beginning to stir in Hollywood. One was the great comedy director Ernst Lubitsch, who poked an occasional jab at the Nazis. Lubitsch had to wait until 1941 for a full assault on the Nazis - TO BE OR NOT TO BE, a film that looked at the German invasion of Poland, and it's occupation of Warsaw. It had an interesting cast. The lead went to Carole Lombard, who had many comedy performances under her belt. She played Maria Tura, the leading lady (and wife) of "that great actor" (as he always prefaces his remarks) Joseph Tura. Joseph is Jack Benny.

Of all the leading men in her career, Lombard never played opposite one who was really more of a star in a different medium. Typical co-stars for Lombard were John Barrymore, Fred MacMurray, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy, William Powell, Robert Montgomery, Clark Gable, and Fredric March. Here it was Benny, who while he had a string of movie credits was basically a radio comedy star (and later would be a television star). His best films (GEORGE WASHINGTON SLEPT HERE, ARTISTS AND MODELS, CHARLIE'S AUNT) were not record breakers at the box office. In fact, while his performances were good in these, he did not necessarily shine in them (Laird Cregar, in one simple moment in CHARLIE'S AUNT, got the biggest laugh of the film). Nobody realized that his performance as Joseph Tura would be his best one, and that within two years he'd make his final starring fiasco in THE HORN BLOWS AT MIDNIGHT.

Benny and Lombard proved to work well together as the egotistical, but oddly loving couple of theater hams. In fact the actors making up the Tura company are all good, including Lionel Atwill (who briefly is seen playing Claudius to Benny's Hamlet), Felix Bressart as Greenberg (who dreams of doing the Shylock speech from THE MERCHANT OF VENICE), Tom Dugan as Bronski (who hopes to play Hitler on the stage), Charles Halton as Dubosch (the stage manager, and the head of the Warsaw underground), and Maude Eburne as Lombard's cynical maid Anna. The screenplay did give plenty of time showing the difficulties and tensions of a stage company working together, and of handling temperamental stars and their egos.

While putting on a play lampooning the Nazis (whom Benny and the others dislike), the government of Poland (Frank Reicher) says that due to the growing problems with Germany the play can't be produced. So the troop put on Tura's production of HAMLET. Benny as the Prince of Denmark (giving the great soliloquy) goes through the proper steps, although knowing the comedian from Radio one expects him to start it with "WELL!". But he finds that a man in uniform (young Robert Stack) leaves his seat in the middle of the third aisles just as he begins, "To be or not to be...." He does not know (until later in the film) that Stack had arranged to do this to keep a rendezvous with Lombard in her dressing room. Subsequently he treats her to a plane flight (he is a Polish Air Force pilot). When war comes he and his fellows fight, but the survivors make it to England.

The grimmest section of the film is the occupation scenes. Like the comedy in THE GREAT DICTATOR, because we know what actually happened these scenes seem slightly unreal. But in 1941/42 they still get the fears and difficulties of the occupation across. Signs of stores and streets we saw hanging normally earlier are in ruins (including a delicatessen). The theater is boarded up. Had Lubitsch wished to do a tragic film he could easily have done so. But he allows the situation to blossom into a black comedy.

Stanley Ridges plays Professor Siletsky, a secret German Agent who has fooled the Allies into going back to Warsaw. He has the names of families of the pilots. Stack is sent back to Warsaw to stop him, and contacts Lombard who helps. Soon the entire theater group gets involved. But will their theatrical egos blow their anti-Nazi plans? That is the running theme of the concluding portion of the film.

Also along for the ride is Sig Ruman as Col. Ehrhardt, the Gestapo Chief who relishes the name "Concentration Camp Ehrhardt", but who keeps running afoul of Professor Siletsky (it is the Professor, isn't it?), when he makes seemingly harmless comments about Hitler. His reaction is usually to yell for his adjutant, Schultz (Henry Victor), whose whole purpose is apparently to be there to be yelled at.

The film was a great success, but the death of Carole Lombard in a plane crash a month after it was shot cast a shadow over it. Yet it was a fitting swan song for that divine comedienne's career.

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courageous stevenvh
Carole Lombard is so wonderful in this film willowz_girl
Opening title music? freinth1
Anyone know ... tdwalla1
Mel Brooks's remake gives this film a bad name tunatomatoe
Greatest quote... lordxur
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