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To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Not Rated | | 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:

Writers:

(original story), (screenplay)

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

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
... Maria Tura
... Joseph Tura
... Lieutenant Stanislav Sobinski
... Greenberg
... Rawitch
... Professor Siletsky
... Colonel Ehrhardt
... Bronski
... Producer Dobosh
... Actor-Adjutant
... Captain Schultz
... Anna
... General Armstrong
... 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:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

6 March 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ser o no ser  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The biggest problem early in the shoot was Jack Benny's insecurity about acting the central role in such an important production by a major filmmaker. He seemed dumbfounded that Ernst Lubitsch had not only cast him but was building the film around him. Finally Lubitsch set him straight: "You think you are a comedian. You are not even a clown. You are fooling the public for 30 years. You are fooling even yourself. A clown - he is a performer what is doing funny things. A comedian - he is a performer what is saying funny things. But you, Jack, you are an actor, you are an actor playing the part of a comedian and this you are doing very well. But do not worry, I keep your secret to myself." 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 is 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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Connections

Referenced in Train of Life (1998) See more »

Soundtracks

Polonaise in A major, Op. 40, No. 1, 'Military'
(1838) (uncredited)
Written by Frédéric Chopin
Orchestral arrangement by Aleksandr Glazunov
Heard during the opening and closing credits
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User Reviews

 
Playing Hamlet in Poland
11 November 2005 | by See all my reviews

Having seen most of Ernst Lubitsch American films, we had missed this one because it's not played often these days. "To Be, or not to Be" is a wonderful satire that only a director like Lubitsch, with his European background could have pulled. The film is a good comedy that seems to has kept some of its freshness intact.

The film works because of the great contribution of Jack Benny and Carole Lombard, who sadly, died before the film had its premiere. They play the Turas, a Polish theatrical couple that foresee the Nazi invasion of their country.

In fact, Jack Benny, a man associated as a comedian, first on radio, then on television, was an actor with an uncanny sense of timing. Mr. Benny was a natural for this type of comedy, as he proves in the film. His pairing with Carole Lombard was a stroke of genius. In fact, for being associated to lighter fare, he demonstrates with his take on Joseph Tura, he was an actor of stature.

Carole Lombard is seen as Maria Tura, a grand dame of the Polish theater. Ms. Lombard gave a marvelous performance and her contribution to the success of this film is amazing. Robert Stack is seen as the pilot Sobinski. Other faces in the cast include Felix Bressard, Lionel Atwill, Sig Ruman, George Lynn, and others that are perfect under Ernst Lubitsch guidance.

This is a film to be treasured because of the work of Jack Benny and the impeccable direction of Ernst Lubitsch.


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