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 ... See full summary »
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 <email@example.com>
During the shooting of a scene where storm troopers marched in the street, a female visitor to the set, who had just come from Poland and had endured such scenes for real, fell into a faint. See more »
When Maria types the memo to put under the pillow, she types two lines with a total of 18 keystrokes. However, the actual memo is four lines of about 80 plus keystrokes (not counting spaces). See more »
What a husband doesn't know won't hurt his wife.
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This cinematic satire, directed by Ernst Lubitsch, contains some excellent acting--especially by its leads, Jack Benny and Carole Lombard. Its story is clever and funny. Lubitsch certainly earns, again, our respect for his directorial skills.
But regardless of the talents on display in "To Be or Not To Be", this is a film that should be seen for its place in history.
Just two years before its release, Chaplin gave the world the wonderful film "The Great Dictator", a tour de force spoof of Hitler. And it was very successful. It found an appreciative audience in the early days of the world conflict.
"To Be or Not To Be" did not receive the same warm welcome, mostly due its place in the chronology of its time:
First: The film is shot
Then: Pearl Harbor is attacked, bringing the United States into the war.
Then: Carole Lombard dies in a plane crash while supporting the American war effort.
Then: The film, edited and completed, is released.
Obviously the pall of Carole Lombard's death hung over the film. How difficult would it be to laugh at a film under those circumstances? Then consider the tremendous stresses of a country just entering a global conflict on multiple fronts--relatives going off to war, families trying to find a new balance, the challenges of a nationwide effort to reindustrialize, the profound shift in economics on a national scale, the fear of military enemies whose motives and methods seemed somewhat unfathomable.
Looking back now, it is easier to enjoy this film, even though we have a much greater understanding of the horrible realities of Hitler's plans. Though our viewpoint is clouded with wistfulness, this film deserves to be celebrated, especially for the performances of Benny and Lombard, which are seminal in the careers of both artists.
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