104 user 66 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.



(original story), (screenplay)


Airs Mon. Feb. 27, 8:00 PM on TCM

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Halliwell Hobbes ...
General Armstrong


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


Comedy | War


Passed | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

6 March 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ser o no ser  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In early January 1942, as Ernst Lubitsch was editing the film, United Artists informed him that To Be or Not to Be, with its Shakespearean reference, seemed "too highbrow" a title and that thought should be given to changing it. Impishly, because he had anticipated censorship problems with the script, Lubitsch suggested The Censor Forbids as an alternate title. Suspiciously, both Carole Lombard and Jack Benny fired off almost identical cables describing the new title as "suggestive" and allowing that, as participants and investors in the film, they objected strongly to the change. Benny even said he would refuse to promote the movie on his radio show if such a title were used. Lubitsch then informed UA that, in view of these objections, he had no choice but to withdraw the alternate title. UA, clearly overmatched, said no more about it. See more »


During the flight to Warsaw, the wire holding the obviously model airplane is visible. See more »


Colonel Ehrhardt: They named a brandy after Napoleon, they made a herring out of Bismarck, and the Fuhrer is going to end up as a piece of cheese!
See more »


Referenced in The Pianist (2002) See more »


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
See more »

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User Reviews

"If I shouldn't come back, I forgive you what happened between you and Sobinski. But if I come back, it's a different matter."
14 June 2016 | by (Bosnia) – See all my reviews

Interestingly, when the serious and tragic theme of the Second World War used as the basis for a great comedy. From this point of view it is difficult to separate the horrors in people's lives and the way that fashioned this comedy. Comedy based on the tragedy is not entirely correct thesis. TO BE OR NOT TO BE is extremely brave, required and great project. The title is not a parody phrase from Shakespeare's works, but alluding to the existence and struggle for survival.

Frivolous and inappropriate descriptions are that only correspond to the characteristics of the genre. Hilarious fun theater company in Warsaw trying to outwit the Nazis during the war. This is enough to man peed with laughter. Not pertinent, but it is necessary.

The film can be seen as shocking joke, making fun of the Nazi approach and spectacle, but certainly not anti - Polish propaganda. The characters in the film do not cease to be what they are. They are actors. With good acting, improvisation, ingenuity and courage, winning terrible enemy.

Carole Lombard as Maria Tura, an actress in Nazi-occupied Poland was a brave woman, an actress whom everyone admired, and we all know that the charm of a woman can be a powerful tool. The funny thing is in the film, no one can "break" other than her husband. Although, it is in this case quite helpless. Jack Benny as Joseph Tura, an actor and Maria's husband. He is "the first line" of ridicule. Uncertain is in itself and turns a fool several times. But in the end he shows to us his "great acting". Robert Stack as Lt. Stanislav Sobinski, a Polish airman in love with Maria is a handsome soldier and lover required in the script. Felix Bressart as Greenberg and Sig Ruman Col. Ehrhardt are hilarious. One wants a role because it is only created for her and the other for their mistakes "that can not be counted" always blame his servant.

To be or not to be is fun movie. It has a hilarious story, great dialogue, acting and good scenery. I am aware of the other side, which may have the opposite impression. I think the aesthetic and spiritual this movie does not offend anyone who passed all the horrors of the Second World War.

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