To Be or Not to Be (1983)
Movie InfoMel Brooks and his real-life wife Anne Bancroft play Frederick and Anna Bronski, musical comedy stars in 1939 Poland. The highlight of the Bronskis' act is Frederick's imitation of Adolf Hitler, but he is forced to eliminate this turn for fear of offending the Nazis. Meanwhile, Anna enters into a harmless flirtation with Polish bomber pilot Andre Sobinski (Tim Matheson). The pilot's nightly signal to visit Anna in her dressing room is "To Be or Not to Be," spoken by Bronski during the Shakespearean portion of his act. When the Germans march into Warsaw, the Bronskis and the rest of their troupe are forced into hiding (notably the homosexual Lupinski, played by Lewis J. Stadlen, who is forced to endure the humiliation of wearing a pink star). Flying for the Polish resistance in England, Sobinski asks kindly Professor Seletzky (Jose Ferrer) to deliver his "To Be or Not to Be" message to Anna. When Seletzky doesn't seem to recognize the name of Anne Bronski, Warsaw's biggest star, Sobinski suspects that something is amiss. Sure enough, Seletzky is a Nazi spy, heading to Warsaw to help Col. "Concentration Camp" Ehrhardt (Oscar-nominated Charles Durning) destroy the underground movement. Parachuting into Poland, Sobinski enlists the aid of the Bronski troupe to foil the Nazis. What follows is an uproarious series of disguises and deceptions, capped by Bronski's impersonation of Der Fuhrer. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi … More
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Critic Reviews for To Be or Not to Be
Bancroft's sustained delights are not matched by Brooks, who seems to be trying too hard.
Johnson may not quite have Lubitsch's lightness of touch, but he puts an excellent cast through their paces with great verve, and the charm is as potent as ever.
Brooks combines a backstage musical with a wartime romance and comes up with an eclectic comedy that races off into several directions, usually successfully.
I can't remember another film that took so little care with the details of ambience: the cruddy sets and flat, underworked sound track drain any sense of life from the project.
The plot is much the same as in the Ernst Lubitsch original, with everything played for laughs and Brooks at his funniest in impersonations of Nazis. What's missing is the relevance of the 1942 film, released while Germany occupied Poland.
Superfluous remake of the Lubitsch classic is OK on its own merits, but no more.
This movie has its moments; but it is not as funny as the Jack Benny original; Brooks for all his wit, is no Ernst Lubitsch.
Brooks and his comedic cohorts bring their brand of high-strung mockery to Alan Johnson's flavorable farce...relentlessly riotous!
Audience Reviews for To Be or Not to Be
Excellent and long forgotten spoof from funny man Brooks, his version of a classic satire. Some excellent casting with his regular bunch of misfits and character actors...Chris Lloyd, Charles Durning, George Wyner, George Gaynes etc..Its quite a touching little plot too, but ultimately very funny and quite witty, especially loving Lloyd and Durning as nazi soldiers :)More
The Nazis march into Poland and that spells big trouble for the greatest musical comedy star there (and his wife) --- the premise itself is a joke in this mostly-for-the-fun-of-it remake. Its not the original, true, but its fun watching the cast have fun funning the idea of a master race, all who are portrayed as anything but that. Sometimes the kraut accents sound as bad as your friends doing it and the sets look only a little better than that.More
Lighthearted remake of the classic Benny/Lombard film. Mel Brooks and Anne Bancroft seem to be having lots of fun while handling the serious moments well. The supporting cast couldn't be better. A winner.More
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