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To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Comedy | 99 minutes
3,79 324 votes

Genre: Comedy / War

Duration: 99 minuten

Country: United States

Directed by: Ernst Lubitsch

Stars: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny and Robert Stack

IMDb score: 8,1 (42.935)

Releasedate: 5 March 1942


This movie is not available on US streaming services.


To Be or Not to Be plot

"Hollywood's Happiest Star in the Picture You Must Not Miss!"

On the eve of the Second World War, the couple Joseph and Maria Tura are two celebrated theater stars in Warsaw. Unbeknownst to Joseph, his wife invites a young pilot into her dressing room when he plays Hamlet on stage. When the Nazis invade Poland, the pilot soon needs the acting talents of the couple and the entire party to thwart a traitor in the Polish resistance.

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Full Cast & Crew

Actors and actresses

Joseph Tura

Lieut. Stanislav Sobinski

Professor Alexander Siletsky

Col. Ehrhardt

Producer Dobosh


Reviews & comments


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avatar van IH88


  • 8782 messages
  • 3088 votes

“So they call me Concentration Camp Ehrhardt?”

Great classic that almost casually combines satire and the Second World War. To Be or Not to Be shows that a comedy can also effectively convey a politically important and human message. The film has a serious side, but there is also plenty to laugh about and Lombard and Benny are fantastic. The scenes around Ehrhardt (Sig Ruman) are especially brilliant. The script is ingenious anyway, and director Lubitsch ensures that no scene feels superfluous. The pace is high and To Be or Not to Be is a film that constantly manages to surprise.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original

avatar van Kiekerjan


  • 119 messages
  • 106 votes

Very entertaining comedy that entertains from start to finish. The film changes from a kind of backstage play into a hilarious farce brimming with black humor. It's remarkably well written and the cast interacts wonderfully. Jack Benny in particular steals the show as a jealous husband and 'Concentration Camp Ehrhardt'. The dialogues are simply genius and combine pure nonsense with acumen. The writer does not treat the audience like idiots and leaves a lot to the imagination. Furthermore, a very fascinating story, in which the Nazis are constantly tricked by a gang of quarreling Polish actors. It is a true spectacle that fantastically ridicules espionage, betrayal, the threat of Nazi Germany, but also the self-righteous behavior of actors. The film contains some screwball elements, but fortunately Carole Lombard does not completely transform into the typical muddlehead that makes her husband's life miserable. The story and humor has multiple layers that all come together beautifully. A surprise, because Lubitsch had made little impression before this.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original

avatar van Dievegge


  • 3010 messages
  • 7709 votes

This comedy treats a bloody serious subject with humor. There are nice one-liners and puns in it, but it's mostly satire. The clumsy Nazis are ridiculed, but also the theater company. Lubitsch mildly mocks the actors' vanity and ambitions. Shakespeare is quoted in the title and in Shylock's monologue. Maria Tura should have received her admirer better after Ophelia's suicide, because then she would have the entire fifth act at her disposal.

The actors play different roles, both on and off stage. Disguises are a basic element in the plot. Sometimes they are recognized, but not when it really matters. The joke with the Hitler impersonator is shown non-chronologically, in order to mislead the viewer. The climax of the masquerade is two conversations: first between the real professor and the fake colonel, then between the real colonel and the fake professor - each time with Joseph Tura in disguise.

Jack Benny excels as the actor who performs these impersonations. Carole Lombard plays a prima donna without fear of flying - the irony of fate. Sig Ruman is typecast as ungainly Teutoon. Felix Bressart often played Jewish secondary characters. Ernst Lubitsch, who already left Germany in the 1920s, made it clear with daring jokes about the war that he knew well what was going on in his native country. That he used Chopin's "Military" polonaise cannot be a coincidence.

dutch flagTranslated from Dutch · View original