8.2/10
22,591
115 user 78 critic

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Passed | | Comedy, War | 6 March 1942 (USA)
During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy.

Director:

Ernst Lubitsch

Writers:

Melchior Lengyel (original story), Edwin Justus Mayer (screenplay)

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Carole Lombard ... Maria Tura
Jack Benny ... Joseph Tura
Robert Stack ... Lieutenant Stanislav Sobinski
Felix Bressart ... Greenberg
Lionel Atwill ... Rawitch
Stanley Ridges ... Professor Siletsky
Sig Ruman ... Colonel Ehrhardt
Tom Dugan ... Bronski
Charles Halton ... Producer Dobosh
George Lynn ... Actor-Adjutant
Henry Victor ... Captain Schultz
Maude Eburne ... Anna
Halliwell Hobbes ... General Armstrong
Miles Mander ... Major Cunningham
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Storyline

In occupied Poland during WWII, a troupe of ham stage actors (led by Joseph Tura and his wife Maria) match wits with the Nazis. A spy has information which would be very damaging to the Polish resistance and they must prevent it's being delivered to the Germans. Written by Ken Yousten <kyousten@bev.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

6 March 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ser o no ser See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$3,270,000, 31 December 1942

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,578,000, 31 December 1942
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Romaine Film Corporation See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Mary Livingstone Benny's book "Jack Benny", she and Jack first heard after leaving Chasen's restaurant and seeing the early Saturday headline on a newspaper announcing Carole Lombard's death. Jack arrived at NBC on Sunday to do with weekly radio showed but informed the producers that he couldn't do the show that night. See more »

Goofs

During the flight to Warsaw, the wire holding the obviously model airplane is visible. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Narrator: Lubinski, Kubinski, Lominski, Rozanski, and Poznanski. We're in Warsaw, the capital of Poland. It's August 1939. Europe is still at peace. At the moment, life in Warsaw is going on as normally as ever. But, suddenly something seems to have happened! Are those Poles seeing a ghost? Why does this car suddenly stop? Everybody seems to be staring in one direction. People seem to be frightened, even terrified! Some flabbergasted! Can it be true? It must be true! No doubt! The man with ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

In the German version there are two changes made to the original score: first, with the Germans marching into Warsaw we hear the fanfares of the Deutsche Wochenschau (i.e. the German News Reel) instead of "normal" music. Then, during the opera scene we hear the Nazis singing all three verses of "Deutschland, Deutschland über alles" in the background. However, in the Third Reich it was common (and was thus later inserted into the German sound track) only to play the verse one, directly leading into the "Horst Wessel Lied", which was something like the official party anthem. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Vorwärts immer! (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

German National Anthem (Das Lied der Deutschen)
(1797) (uncredited)
(Also called "Deutschland über alles")
Music by Franz Joseph Haydn (1797)
Lyrics by August Heinrich Hoffman von Fallersleben (1841)
Sung by German military men
See more »

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User Reviews

Sublime
4 October 2002 | by ivan-22See all my reviews

This movie proves that comedy can be sublime. At a time when the gods are crazy, this movie swims with the current, seeking to outdo their craziness. That's why it's also very touching. The outcome of the craziness was unknown at the time. That also makes this film daring. Whether intentionally or not, the film implies that Hitler himself was a Hitler-impersonator, that Hitler is a kind of unattainable ideal, a Platonic idea of pure evil. A similarly sublime and bold and touching film made during another craziness (not twenty years thereafter, as its more applauded cousins!) is "THE GAY DECEIVERS" (1969). It too dances with the gods, and breaks your heart as it makes you laugh.


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