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To Be or Not to Be (1983)

PG | | Comedy | 16 December 1983 (USA)
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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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronny Graham ...
Sondheim
...
Gruba
Zale Kessler ...
Bieler
...
Lewis J. Stadlen ...
Lupinsky
...
...
Ratkowski
James 'Gypsy' Haake ...
Sasha (as James Haake)
Scamp ...
Mutki
...
...
Prof. Siletski (as Jose Ferrer)
...
...
...
...
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Storyline

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 he's on stage which is also a source of depression to him. When one of her officers comes back on a Secret Mission, the actor takes charge and comes up with a plan for them to escape. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

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That is the movie!

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

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Language:

|

Release Date:

16 December 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Soy o no soy  »

Box Office

Gross:

$13,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The opening song-and-dance number "Sweet Georgia Brown" featuring Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft was a comic rehash in Polish of the old "Ginger and Fred" Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers song-and-dance number. The routine maintains the tradition of his movies featuring a wacky song-and-dance number even though he is neither writer nor director of this film, but producer. See more »

Goofs

Anne Bancroft's character's name is Anna Bronski. However, it should be Anna Bronska because it is an adjectival surname and all adjectives in Polish have masculine and feminine forms. The endings -i and -y are masculine, the feminine equivalents of adjectival surnames end in -a. See more »

Quotes

[Sasha puts on his coat to go out]
Anna Bronski: What's that on your coat?
Sasha: Oh, it's the newest fashion in occupied Warsaw. Jews wear yellow stars, homosexuals wear pink triangles.
Anna Bronski: Sasha! How awful for you!
Sasha: [quietly] I hate it.
Anna Bronski: Now listen, they're rounding up Jews. Are they rounding up...?
Sasha: No, no, so far, so good. Now, don't wait up for me. I've got a hot date with another triangle.
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the credits at the end, Anne Bancroft's name first appears in parenthesis, until Mel Brooks "waves" them off. This is a reference to a poster in the movie that has Anna Bronski's name in parenthesis. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Brief Film Reviews: My DVD/Blu-Ray Collection (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

A Little Peace
Music & Lyrics by Mel Brooks and Ronny Graham
Performed by Mel Brooks (uncredited), George Wyner (uncredited) and George Gaynes (uncredited)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Definitely meant "to Be"...
9 February 2000 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I haven't seen the Ernst Lubitsch original of this gem but if I had, I might have been prejudiced in my decision of this being one of the finer films that Mel Brooks has been in.

Though not written by or directed by Mel, he and wife Anne Bancroft take center stage as Frederick and Anna Bronski, Poland's most famous acting family. When the Nazi war machine overtakes Warsaw, they and their acting troupe use every actor's trick in the book to escape and make their way to England.

All this, of course, while Anna becomes smitten with an American pilot (Matheson) who helps them both to freedom. In the meantime, there are threats from a devious doctor (Ferrer), a lecherous Nazi colonel (Durning) and a command for the troupe to perform for the Nazi Army with Hitler in the audience.

There are so many classic moments here that to list them would be a dis-service to the movie. Let me just say that I enjoyed this whole film from opening to closing and even the closing had some doozies.

The Nazis are seen as complete buffoons and the exchanges between Durning and his head officer (Lloyd) are classic. In fact, I can see why Durning was nominated for an Oscar for his role here; not just anyone could have pulled it off as well as he.

Everyone here has a good scene or two, including Mel's regulars (Graham, Wyner, Riley) and the dialogue even manages to get the proper sentiment and tension out of the proper scenes. A great effort by all involved.

Purists of the Jack Benny original may disagree, but this "To Be or Not to Be" is the "to Be" for me!

Ten stars. Mazeltov!


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