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To Be or Not to Be Details


Ernst Lubitsch directs the 1942 political satire classic To Be or Not to Be, which marked the final screen appearance of comedienne Carole Lombard. In Warsaw at the beginning of WWII, Maria Tura (Lombard) and husband Joseph (Jack Benny) perform anti-Nazi plays with their theater troupe until they are forced to switch to Shakespeare's Hamlet. Lt. Stanislav Sobinski (Robert Stack) 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 (Stanley Ridges), 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. To Be or Not to Be opened to a controversial release in 1942, when the U.S. was still very much involved in WWII. It was remade in 1983 starring Mel Brooks and real-life wife Anne Bancroft. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, Rovi

  • Release date:March 6, 1942


Awarded by
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Werner Richard Heymann Best Score - Drama or Comedy 1942 Nominee


Carole Lombard
as Maria Tura
Jack Benny
as Joseph Tura
Robert Stack
as Lt. Stanislav Sobinski
Felix Bressart
as Greenberg
Lionel Atwill
as Rawitch
Stanley Ridges
as Prof. Alexander Siletsky
Sig Rumann
as Col. Ehrhardt
Tom Dugan
as Bronski
Charles Halton
as Producer Dobosh
George Lynn
as Actor-Adjutant
Henry Victor
as Capt. Schultz
Maude Eburne
as Anna, the Maid
Erno Verebes
as Stage Manager
Halliwell Hobbes
as Gen. Armstrong
Miles Mander
as Maj. Cunningham
Frank Reicher
as Polish Officer
Wolfgang Zilzer
as Man in Bookstore
Olaf Hytten
as Polonius in Warsaw
Charles Irwin
as Reporter
Leyland Hodgson
as Second Reporter
Alec Craig
as Scottish Farmer
James Finlayson
as Scottish Farmer
Helmut Dantine
as Copilot
Otto Reichow
as Co-Pilot
Maurice Murphy
as Polish R.A.F. pilot
Gene Rizzi
as Polish R.A.F. Flyer
John Kellogg
as Polish R.A.F. Flyer
Leslie Denison
as Captain
John Meredith
as English wireless operator
Leslie Denison
as Captain


Ernst Lubitsch
Ernst Lubitsch
Alexander Korda
Ernst Lubitsch
Screen Story
Melchior Lengyel
Screen Story
Rudolph Maté
Werner Richard Heymann
Composer (Music Score)
Werner Richard Heymann
Musical Direction/Supervision
Miklos Rozsa
Composer (Music Score)
Dorothy Spencer
Vincent Korda
Production Designer
Vincent Korda
Art Director
Julia Heron
Set Designer
Costume Designer
William McGarry
First Assistant Director
Walter Mayo
Production Manager
Gordon Bau