To Be or Not to Be (1983)

PG  |   |  Comedy  |  1 February 1984 (France)
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Ratings: 6.8/10 from 7,781 users  
Reviews: 33 user | 26 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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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronny Graham ...
Zale Kessler ...
Lewis J. Stadlen ...
James 'Gypsy' Haake ...
Sasha (as James Haake)
Scamp ...
Prof. Siletski (as Jose Ferrer)


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


That is the movie!




PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

1 February 1984 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Soy o no soy  »

Box Office


$13,000,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Mel Brooks has said this is his favorite of his Brooksfilms movies. See more »


When the Polish squadron of the RAF finishes singing; Jose Ferrer takes off his glasses. His glasses have flexible temples (ear pieces), that wrap around the ear. About one minute later he puts on glasses that no longer have the flexible temples; but instead have fixed type (the type that is common since the war ended) that just have a slight bend in them. See more »


Colonel Earhardt: Vat do you mean you haven't got proof? Dat is no excuse! Arrezt zem! Vat? Vere? Vy? VEN? From now on, ven in doubt, arrezt zem! Arrezt zem! Arrezt zem! Arrezt zem! Zen shoot zem and interrogate zem! Oh, you are right, just shoot zem!
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 »


Featured in An Audience with Mel Brooks (1983) See more »


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

a maligned minor classic
18 May 1999 | by (Melbourne, Australia) – See all my reviews

This remake of Ernst Lubitsch's wartime comedy has often been dismissed as a ham-fisted and unnecessary vanity exercise. This is grossly unfair, as the Brooks' version is in fact a deft and funny comedy that stands up well in comparison to its forebear. Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft make their own the roles of the Bronskis, a Warsaw theatrical duo ("world famous in Poland")who star in revues at the Bronski theatre. When war breaks out the Bronskis become brood-hens to an ever-growing community of Jewish refugees while staying one step ahead of the Nazis. Brooks and Bancroft are fine in the roles of the battling Bronskis, particularly Mel Brooks who finds a touching level of vulnerability beneath the bombast and bluster of Frederick Bronski. Despite the farcical and improbable plot twists, the narrative is sound and genuine pathos registers throughout the film. Those with fond memories of Jack Benny and Carole Lombard in the lead roles may have boycotted this on first release, but they have denied themselves a rare treat - a sure-footed and genuinely entertaining film.

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