6.8/10
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36 user 27 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 »

Photos

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ronny Graham 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

There are several instances in this movie remake, where dialogue is taken verbatim from To Be or Not to Be (1942). See more »

Goofs

On his way back to Poland to find and kill Professor Siletski, the plane flies through a region with high mountain areas, and when Lt. Sobinski jumps, his parachute unfolds, while in the background the same scene is shown. There are high mountain ranges in Poland, but they are far from Warsaw, where the Lt. said he would go as quickly as possible in order to prevent the Professor from reaching the Gestapo with his list. See more »

Quotes

Colonel Erhardt: Cigar? Cigarette? Chocolate-covered nugats?
Frederick Bronski: Chocolate-covered what?
Colonel Erhardt: Nugats!
[Squishing one in his fingers]
Frederick Bronski: No. Thank you.
See more »

Crazy Credits

At the end of the movie, each cast member comes and takes a bow, as they would for a stage play, while their names are on the screen. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Carer (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

Sweet Georgia Brown
Written by Ben Bernie (uncredited), Maceo Pinkard (uncredited) and Kenneth Casey (uncredited)
Polish translation by Tad Danielewski
Performed by Mel Brooks (uncredited) and Anne Bancroft (uncredited)
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Definitely meant "to Be"...
9 February 2000 | by Mister-6See 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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