8.2/10
21,120
108 user 71 critic

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Not Rated | | 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.

Director:

Writers:

(original story), (screenplay)
Reviews

On Disc

at Amazon

Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Certificate: Passed Comedy | Crime | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  

A gentleman thief and a lady pickpocket join forces to con a beautiful perfume company owner. Romantic entanglements and jealousies confuse the scheme.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Miriam Hopkins, Kay Francis, Herbert Marshall
Ninotchka (1939)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A stern Russian woman sent to Paris on official business finds herself attracted to a man who represents everything she is supposed to detest.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Greta Garbo, Melvyn Douglas, Ina Claire
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

Two employees at a gift shop can barely stand each other, without realizing that they are falling in love through the post as each other's anonymous pen pal.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Margaret Sullavan, James Stewart, Frank Morgan
Adventure | Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A director of escapist films goes on the road as a hobo to learn about life, which gives him a rude awakening.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Joel McCrea, Veronica Lake, Robert Warwick
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A woman cannot decide between two men who love her, and the trio agree to try living together in a platonic friendly relationship.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch
Stars: Fredric March, Gary Cooper, Miriam Hopkins
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A scatterbrained socialite hires a vagrant as a family butler...but there's more to Godfrey than meets the eye.

Director: Gregory La Cava
Stars: William Powell, Carole Lombard, Alice Brady
The Lady Eve (1941)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A trio of classy card sharps targets the socially awkward heir to brewery millions for his money, until one of them falls in love with him.

Director: Preston Sturges
Stars: Barbara Stanwyck, Henry Fonda, Charles Coburn
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
Comedy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

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 »

Director: Alan Johnson
Stars: Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Ronny Graham
Edit

Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Actor-Adjutant
...
...
...
...
Edit

Storyline

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

Genres:

Comedy | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

6 March 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ser o no ser  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

After the shooting of this film was finished, Carole Lombard told many people that this film was the happiest experience of her career from start to finish. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Josef Tura: 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.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Friends and Romans (2014) See more »

Soundtracks

German National Anthem (Das Lied der Deutschen)
(1797) (uncredited)
(Also called "Deutschland über alles")
Music by Joseph Haydn (1797)
Lyrics by August Heinrich Hoffman von Fallersleben (1841)
Sung by German military men
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
A Wonderful Film Featuring Benny And Lombard
2 April 2017 | by See all my reviews

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.


2 of 2 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?
Review this title | See all 108 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Paul Scheer on Why There Are No Bad Movies

Paul Scheer discusses The Disaster Artist and his love of awesomely bad movies. Plus, we dive into the origins of midnight movies and explore how The Room became a cult classic.

Watch now