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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 ...
...
...
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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Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

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Details

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Language:

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Release Date:

16 December 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Soy o no soy  »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$13,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

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Sound Mix:

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although this is the first time that Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft starred together, they had actually appeared in the same productions together prior to this, as they had been married for several years. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Anna Bronski: They say its going to be a really cold winter.
Capt. Schultz, of Erhardt's Staff: I don't know anyzing about zat!
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 »

Frequently Asked Questions

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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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