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To Be or Not to Be (1983)

6.7
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 7,073 users  
Reviews: 31 user | 23 critic

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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Airs Thu. Dec. 25, 11:45 PM on TCM

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Title: To Be or Not to Be (1983)

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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

Taglines:

That is the movie!

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

1 February 1984 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Soy o no soy  »

Box Office

Gross:

$13,000,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Though this is the first time that Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft actively star-teamed together, they had actually appeared in a number of the same productions prior to this as they had been married for several years. See more »

Goofs

At about an hour in, a flipped shot of Schultz (Christopher Lloyd) puts his armband on the wrong arm. See more »

Quotes

Anna Bronski: [to her pet dog] Mootkie, we are living in a rat hole.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the movie, each cast member comes and takes a bow, as they would for a stage play, while their names are on the screen. See more »

Connections

Spoofs A Little Night Music (1977) 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

 
Light comedy also respectful of history
20 January 2005 | by See all my reviews

TO BE OR NOT TO BE

Aspect ratio: 1.85:1

Sound format: Dolby Stereo

1939: As the Nazi's invade their homeland, a humble Warsaw theatre troupe stages a daring escape after stumbling on a Gestapo plot to kill members of the Polish resistance.

Whilst the fondly-remembered Ernst Lubitsch original was actually filmed during wartime (1942), at a point when the outcome of the conflict was still uncertain, this updated vehicle for Mel Brooks has no such edge, but Alan Johnson's fast-paced remake at least preserves the elements of comedy and drama which made the earlier film so potent. There aren't many belly laughs to be had from the low-key screenplay (co-written by Thomas Meehan and Ronnie Graham), and the Nazi caricatures are fun without being especially funny (Charles Durning was Oscar-nominated for his role as bumbling Gestapo officer 'Concentration Camp' Erhardt), but the film offers an upbeat mixture of thrills and frivolity, and a superb cast of experienced players take turns stealing the limelight from leading player Brooks (Anne Bancroft has a ball as Brooks' duplicitous wife, easing her marriage blues by encouraging a half-innocent liaison with handsome airman Tim Matheson, who's been assigned by British Intelligence to foil a dastardly plot initiated by double agent Jose Ferrer). As in the original, the movie portrays the Nazi threat in a comic manner whilst constantly reminding viewers of the deadly reality which underpins the narrative, and while the scenario is fast-paced, funny and exciting in equal measure, it's also surprisingly respectful of history. Johnson's unfussy direction keeps things moving along nicely, and production values are efficient throughout.


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