The Play’s the Thing

The Play’s the Thing

2 Episodes

With his 1948 HAMLET, director-star Laurence Olivier created what remains the definitive screen version of the Bard’s venerable drama, a vividly cinematic, psychologically charged interpretation that garnered Oscars for both best picture and best actor. Less likely to win any awards is the hilariously hammy Hamlet played by Jack Benny in Ernst Lubitsch’s sparklingly funny, politically daring 1942 satire TO BE OR NOT TO BE, in which the scenery-chewing thespian and his actress wife (screwball great Carole Lombard in her final role) must give the performances of their lives in order to foil the Nazis occupiers in wartime Poland.

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The Play’s the Thing
  • Hamlet
    Episode 1


    Episode 1

    Directed by Laurence Olivier • 1948 • United Kingdom
    Starring Laurence Olivier, Leslie Banks, Basil Sydney

    Winner of four Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Actor, Sir Laurence Olivier’s HAMLET continues to be the most compelling version of Shakespeare’s beloved tragedy. Olivier is ...

  • To Be or Not to Be

    Episode 2

    Directed by Ernst Lubitsch • 1942 • United States
    Starring Jack Benny, Carole Lombard

    As nervy as it is hilarious, this screwball masterpiece from Ernst Lubitsch stars Jack Benny and, in her final screen appearance, Carole Lombard as husband-and-wife thespians in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who become ...