To Be or Not to Be

To Be or Not to Be

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch • 1942 • United States

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 caught up in a dangerous spy plot. TO BE OR NOT TO BE is a Hollywood film of the boldest black humor, which went into production soon after the U.S. entered World War II. Lubitsch manages to brilliantly balance political satire, romance, slapstick, and urgent wartime suspense in a comic high-wire act that has never been equaled.

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To Be or Not to Be
  • To Be or Not to Be

    Directed by Ernst Lubitsch • 1942 • United States

    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 caught up in a dangerous spy plot....

Extras

  • TO BE OR NOT TO BE Commentary

    This audio commentary, recorded in 2013, features film historian David Kalat.

  • Lubitsch le patron

    This 2010 French documentary, written by film scholar N. T. Binh and directed by Jean-Jacques Bernard, traces the career of filmmaker Ernst Lubitsch from his early days in German cinema to his years as a Hollywood comedy legend.

  • Pinkus’s Shoe Palace

    Among Ernst Lubitsch’s greatest successes with his comic screen persona known as either Sally or Meyer, a slapstick Jewish stereotype, was the following 1916 film, PINKUS’S SHOE PALACE. After he retired the Sally/Meyer character, Lubitsch, himself Jewish, didn’t feature an overtly Jewish characte...

  • Comedy, Suspense, and Three-Point Lighting in TO BE OR NOT TO BE

    Observations on Film Art No. 31

    In his audacious political satire TO BE OR NOT TO BE, Ernst Lubitsch pulls off the seemingly impossible by using a deadly serious, then-unfolding crisis—the Nazi occupation of Poland—as the backdrop for a hilarious and subversive screwball comedy. In this episode ...

  • The Screen Guild Theater: Variety

    Actors Jack Benny and Claudette Colbert and filmmaker and actor Ernst Lubitsch play themselves in this October 20, 1940, episode of the radio anthology series “The Screen Guild Theater.” In it, Benny goes to great lengths to try to convince Lubitsch to cast him in a dramatic film role.

  • The Screen Guild Theater: To Be or Not to Be

    This condensed adaptation of TO BE OR NOT TO BE, originally broadcast on “The Screen Guild Theater” on January 18, 1943, stars real-life husband and wife William Powell and Diana Lewis as Joseph and Maria Tura. German actor Sig Ruman reprises his role as Colonel Ehrhardt from the film.