6.8/10
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36 user 26 critic

To Be or Not to Be (1983)

PG | | Comedy | 16 December 1983 (USA)
At the onset of WW2, a Polish actor's family and the Polish Resistance help the troupe of a theatre escape Poland and the invading Nazis.

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Writers:

(screenplay), (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronny Graham ... Sondheim
... Gruba
Zale Kessler ... Bieler
... Dobish
Lewis J. Stadlen ... Lupinsky
... Ravitch
... Ratkowski
James 'Gypsy' Haake ... Sasha (as James Haake)
Scamp ... Mutki
... Capt. Schultz
... Prof. Siletski (as Jose Ferrer)
... Col. Erhardt
... Lt. Andre Sobinski
... Dr. Frederick Bronski
... Anna Bronski
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Storyline

A bad Polish actor is just trying to make a living when what should intrude but World War II in the form of an invasion. His wife has the habit of entertaining young Polish officers while he's on stage which is also a source of depression to him. When one of her officers comes back on a Secret Mission, the actor takes charge and comes up with a plan for them to escape. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

That is the movie!

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

16 December 1983 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Soy o no soy  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,020,958, 18 December 1983, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$13,000,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first Hollywood studio film to explicitly refer to the inclusion of gay men in the groups condemned to the Nazi death camps. The use of fabric patches by the Nazis to identify "undesirables" other than Jews is a historical fact. Pink and red triangles (depending on the region of Europe) were used to identify sexual deviants, predominantly homosexuals. See more »

Goofs

In the Naughty Nazis song, "A Little Piece...", they mention Pakistan as one of the countries. Pakistan was not created until 1947. See more »

Quotes

Capt. Schultz, of Erhardt's Staff: [SPOILER] Colonel, Professor Siletski's on the phone!
Colonel Erhardt: Professor Siletski? You didn't tell him he was dead?
See more »

Crazy Credits

In the credits at the end, Anne Bancroft's name first appears in parenthesis, until Mel Brooks "waves" them off. This is a reference to a poster in the movie that has Anna Bronski's name in parenthesis. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Spaceballs (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

Ladies
Music & Lyrics by Mel Brooks and Ronny Graham
Performed by Mel Brooks (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Definitely meant "to Be"...
9 February 2000 | by See all my reviews

I haven't seen the Ernst Lubitsch original of this gem but if I had, I might have been prejudiced in my decision of this being one of the finer films that Mel Brooks has been in.

Though not written by or directed by Mel, he and wife Anne Bancroft take center stage as Frederick and Anna Bronski, Poland's most famous acting family. When the Nazi war machine overtakes Warsaw, they and their acting troupe use every actor's trick in the book to escape and make their way to England.

All this, of course, while Anna becomes smitten with an American pilot (Matheson) who helps them both to freedom. In the meantime, there are threats from a devious doctor (Ferrer), a lecherous Nazi colonel (Durning) and a command for the troupe to perform for the Nazi Army with Hitler in the audience.

There are so many classic moments here that to list them would be a dis-service to the movie. Let me just say that I enjoyed this whole film from opening to closing and even the closing had some doozies.

The Nazis are seen as complete buffoons and the exchanges between Durning and his head officer (Lloyd) are classic. In fact, I can see why Durning was nominated for an Oscar for his role here; not just anyone could have pulled it off as well as he.

Everyone here has a good scene or two, including Mel's regulars (Graham, Wyner, Riley) and the dialogue even manages to get the proper sentiment and tension out of the proper scenes. A great effort by all involved.

Purists of the Jack Benny original may disagree, but this "To Be or Not to Be" is the "to Be" for me!

Ten stars. Mazeltov!


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