8.2/10
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150 user 81 critic

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Passed | | Comedy, Romance, 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)
Top Rated Movies #195 | 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 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

Joseph and Maria Tura operate and star in their own theater company in Warsaw. Maria has many admirers including a young lieutenant in the Polish air force, Stanislav Sobinski. When the Nazis invade Poland to start World War II, Sobinski and his colleagues flee to England while the Turas find themselves now having to operate under severe restrictions, including shelving a comical play they had written about Adolf Hitler. In England meanwhile, Sobinski and his friends give Professor Siletski - who is about to return to Poland - the names and addresses of their closest relatives so the professor can carry messages for them. When it's learned that Siletski is really a German spy, Sobinski parachutes into Poland and enlists the aid of the Turas and their fellow actors to get that list back. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

TRULY, this is the picture everyone wants to see. An exciting romantic comedy keyed to an ever-mounting tempo of suspense. Carole Lombard in her greatest role. Jack Benny at his best in a surprisingly different situation. Here is a Lubitsch picture---brilliant in its acting---spectacular in its scope. Be among the first to see this great motion picture. (print ad - Lubbock Morning Avalanche - Lindsey Theatre - Lubbock, Texas - March 28, 1942) See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Romance | War

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

One of Ernst Lubitsch's techniques to protect his star was having Jack Benny do multiple takes of many of his crucial scenes. Robert Stack recalled that "Specifically, the scene where Jack comes home and finds me in his bed asleep and does a series of double takes, he made Jack do at least 30 takes." Still, Lubitsch respected Benny's opinion and would redo a scene if Benny himself, after looking at the rushes, thought it could be better. 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 ...
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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 »


Soundtracks

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

 
An Immortal Comedy
27 December 2018 | by littlemartinarocenaSee all my reviews

I'm not sure how many time I've seen it but it doesn't matter. Every time is like the first time. Carole Lombard in her last film before her untimely death is not just beautiful and impossibly funny but modern, profoundly modern. A performance that will still be relevant a hundred years from now. Jack Benny is perfect in what must be his very best film. Robert Stack, beautifully wooden, as usual, reports to duty with a delicious Lubitsch touch. As if all this wasn't enough, this film was made in 1942 and that in itself will give film lovers and historians a lot to tal;k about for centuries to come.


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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
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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