8.2/10
22,433
113 user 76 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)

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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
Edit

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

This was Carole Lombard's final film before her death on January 16, 1942 at the age of 33. See more »

Goofs

When Tura is disguised as Colonel Ehrhardt in his meeting with Siletsky he is wearing the uniform of a Major General (actually an SS-Gruppenfuehrer). 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

Referenced in The Jack Benny Program: Musicale (1961) 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

 
Splendid wartime comedy and referenced as an over the top classic
8 October 2008 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

This black classic comedy well produced by Alexander Korda deals about the marriage Joseph and Maria Tura(Jack Benny, Carole Lombard), they along with a troupe actors spontaneously become involved with the Polish resistance. The valiant marriage utilize their talents of stage interpretation to save Warsaw fighters against the invading Nazis. Meanwhile, during the representation of playwright 'Hamlet'by William Shakespeare, a spectator, the lieutenant Stanislaw(Robert Stack), gets up his seat and goes to dressing room of the star...

Unforgettable characters, lots of laughs, one of the best films of the cinema history and the best of Lubitsch, a real cinema classic. Sensational Jack Benny and sophisticated Carole Lombard who wears lush gowns, this is her last appearance, but shortly after she was deceased in a plane crash. Phenomenal secondary cast such as Stanley Ridges as professor Siletsky and special mention to Sig Ruman as inefficient 'Concentration camp'Colonel Ehrhardt.Only was nominated to musical score for Miklos Rozsa, though deserved several Oscars but did not win prizes. The motion picture is magnificently directed by Ernest Lubitsch with his usual 'touch'. At the time movie, during the 40s, this one failed and obtained lukewarm reception by public and reviewers and Lubitsch was framed to deal slightly a serious issue, the Nazi invasion of Poland. Although in 1966, fortunately, the Congress of United States included justly in the 'National Film Registry', considering an American cultural treasure.Of course, in Germany and another countries of German influence was prohibited, and in Spain retarded thirty years its exhibition. The film was remade in an inferior musical version by Alan Johnson(1983)with marriage in real life, Mel Brooks(role of Jack Benny)-Anne Bancroft(Carole Lombard) and Charles Durning (Col.Ehrhardt).


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