6.8/10
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36 user 28 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.

Director:

Alan Johnson

Writers:

Thomas Meehan (screenplay), Ronny Graham (screenplay) | 2 more credits »

On Disc

at Amazon

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

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronny Graham ... Sondheim
Estelle Reiner ... Gruba
Zale Kessler Zale Kessler ... Bieler
Jack Riley ... Dobish
Lewis J. Stadlen Lewis J. Stadlen ... Lupinsky
George Gaynes ... Ravitch
George Wyner ... Ratkowski
James 'Gypsy' Haake James 'Gypsy' Haake ... Sasha (as James Haake)
Scamp Scamp ... Mutki
Christopher Lloyd ... Capt. Schultz
José Ferrer ... Prof. Siletski (as Jose Ferrer)
Charles Durning ... Col. Erhardt
Tim Matheson ... Lt. Andre Sobinski
Mel Brooks ... Dr. Frederick Bronski
Anne Bancroft ... 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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Polish

Release Date:

16 December 1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Soy o no soy See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$9,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

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

Gross USA:

$13,030,214

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$15,428,181
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Before this remake was made, Mel Brooks, a Jewish-American comedian, had been famous for, amongst other things, for making fun of Adolf Hitler, Nazis, and Nazi Germany. His earlier film The Producers (1967) parodied them in a play called "Springtime for Hitler", which was that movie's working title as well. In this movie, Brooks' voice can be heard singing the line "Don't be stupid/Be a schmarty/Come and join the Nazi Party" during the "Springtime for Hitler" number. For the Broadway musical version, he repeats this task, with the live actor lip-synching to a recording of Brooks' voice. The Producers (1967) was also the inspiration for the title of U2's album, "Achtung Baby". See more »

Goofs

At about an hour in, a flipped shot of Schultz (Christopher Lloyd) puts his armband on the wrong arm. See more »

Quotes

Frederick Bronski: [Disguised as Siletski] Remember, Earhardt, I'm going to see the Furher tonight - who knows *what* we'll talk about!
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 Die schlechtesten Filme aller Zeiten: Macho Man (2017) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
The most under rated Brooks film
6 January 2006 | by thebulfrogSee all my reviews

When I saw this I had no idea it was a remake. I didn't know the original had been rated the 49th best comedy of all time by the AFI or that Brooks neither wrote nor directed it.

What I knew was that from the moment it started to the moment the curtains came down I was laughing nonstop in awe of an incredible plot. The film managed to escalate with each passing scene. Just when you thought nothing more could be done to it, they managed to push it further and further. Brook's performance was dead on, as was the entire casts. It's the sort of movie that gives Christopher Loyd only seven or eight lines, and you love him for it and need to ask for anything more.

It continually makes fun itself, building on jokes you thought were over half a movie ago. I'd place this movie above Spaceballs and below Men in Tights, but would say that it is without a doubt the best plot of any movie I've seen in some time, comedy or otherwise.

This is a movie that you should waste no time seeking out and renting, buying, seeing in whatever way you can.

Still not sold? I'll retell one of the jokes. Don't read further if you want the first five minutes to be as fresh as they were for me - if you're debating whether to see it or not, I hope this is able to sway you.

They're in a theater, putting on a show. We hear the Polish songs - not quite sure what they're singing about. The curtain comes down on the two actors smiling and bowing together as the audience claps. The moment the audience can no longer see them the actors start bickering in Polish. We're not sure what they're discussing, but it's clearly a heated debate. The curtain then comes up, they immediately are smiling, bowing, curtain comes down once again and it's back to the Polish bickering. They continue bickering, stopping for an announcement over the loudspeakers in this vaudeville theater. "Attention, for the Sanity and Clarity of the Audience the rest of this movie will be English"

Then the movie switches into English, and the plot begins.


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