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To Be or Not to Be1942

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  • 4.5
In Warsaw at the beginning of WWII, Maria Tura and her husband, Joseph, perform anti-Nazi plays with their theater troupe until they are forced to switch to Shakespeare's Hamlet. Lt. Stanislav Sobinski falls for Maria and meets up with her during Joseph's famous "To Be or Not to Be" speech as Hamlet. When Stanislav is eventually dispatched for war, he implicates Maria with Professor Siletsky, who has a secret plan to destroy the Warsaw resistance. The Polish theater troupe is then forced to use their theatrical skills to ensure their survival. Eventually, they turn to impersonating Nazi officers (and even Hitler himself) in order to outwit the enemy and keep the resistance safe from spies.

Member Reviews (3)

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top reviewer

In a sense, this was the last great Screwball comedy. Smoke clouds from the battlefields of 1942I, and the death of Carole Lombard cast a dark shroud over the comic antics of this film. Romance and laughs would be on hold for awhile as the battles raged on. But this film was also Ernst Lubitsch's satiric haymaker at the jaw of Nazi tyranny. He was getting even with his enemies the best way he knew how--by lampooning them, making them look like laughing stocks. And yet, Lubitisch also accented this film with moments of pathos and suspense, countered with the comedic performance of a forgotten legend, Jack Benny. Benny's comic brilliance in timing and delivery are forever preserved here. So take a trip back to 1942, and enjoy this offbeat, thoroughly zany comedy gem!

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top reviewer

mostly lame & dumb & silly _but it was great to see Carole Lombard i've never seen her before _same with Jack Benny_so i liked the story as odd as it is & it has a funny ending

A nearly perfect film. Comedy, drama, suspense, sophistication, subtlety. Carole Lombard is incomparable, and Jack Benny is marvelous. If you've never seen it, you are in for a delightful surprise. If you have seen it, watch it again. When you think about this having been made in 1942, it's quite amazing. I love Mel Brooks, but his version doesn't come close. Lubitsch is a master.