8.3/10
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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)
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »

Photos

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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 Jan Dobosz
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:

To Be or Not to Be See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$3,270,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$4,578,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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

"The Screen Guild Theater" broadcast a 30 minute radio adaptation of the movie on January 18, 1943 with Sig Ruman reprising his film role. See more »

Goofs

When Maria types the memo to put under the pillow, she types two lines with a total of 18 keystrokes. However, the actual memo is four lines of about 80 plus keystrokes (not counting spaces). 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 Poland the movie edited in a brief introduction by Polish actor Kazimierz Rudzki who assure the audience that the movie was done with best intentions by their "American friends", as the time it screened in Poland many people still lived in trauma from the World War II events and some could find a comedy about the German invasion of Poland in poor taste, offensive or hard to swallow. See more »

Connections

Featured in TCM Guest Programmer: Dick Cavett (2006) 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

 
A gem of a picture!
6 March 2005 | by david-1764See all my reviews

This comedy excels due to witty dialog and superior direction. Set against the backdrop of Hitler's invasion of Poland, due acknowledgment is made of the tragedy of that event. This was a wartime picture, after all. But the satire serves as a perfect antidote, and "To Be or Not To Be" is simultaneously funny and sharp. Right after I watched this movie, I wanted to watch it again--it was that entertaining. The stars and character actors were all superb. Having Jack Benny play the lead was an inspired casting choice. Felix Bressart and Tom Dugan as Greenberg and Bronski, sort of the Rosencranz and Gildenstern of this movie, are hilarious. If you have not yet seen this movie, rent or buy it and treat yourself to a real gem!


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