To Be or Not to Be (1983)

To Be or Not to Be (1983)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

To Be or Not to Be Photos

Movie Info

Mel Brooks and his wife Anne Bancroft co-star in this funny remake of a 1942 comedy of the same title, based on a story by Ernst Lubitsch and Melchior Lengyel about a down-and-out Warsaw theater troupe who save the Polish resistance fighters from the SS in World War II. Frederick Bronski (Brooks) leads a struggling theatrical company that offers anything -- from excerpts of Hamlet to stock vaudeville -- if it will pull in an audience. Unknown to Frederick, his wife Anna Bronski (Anne Bancroft) starts up an extra-marital interest in a Polish pilot (Tim Matheson) that could lead to a large-scale disaster. The pilot unknowingly reveals the names of the Bronskis and several resistance fighters to an SS spy (José Ferrer), and by the time he finds out what he has done, he is in London, so he is forced to return surreptitiously to Warsaw as fast as he can to stop the list of names from landing in the hands of the SS chief (Charles Durning). Once the theater troupe is called in to help on this mission, the comedy begins in earnest with the actors donning the guise of Nazis, and Anna seguing into "seductions" of the SS spy and his chief as a part of their battle plan.
Comedy , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
20th Century Fox Film Corporation

Watch it now


Mel Brooks
as Frederick Bronski
Anne Bancroft
as Anna Bronski
Tim Matheson
as Lt. Andre Sobinski
Charles Durning
as Col. Erhardt
José Ferrer
as Prof. Siletski
Christopher Lloyd
as Capt. Schultz
George Gaynes
as Ravitch
George Wyner
as Ratkowski
Jack Riley
as Dobish
Lewis J. Stadlen
as Lupinski
James Haake and Scamp
as Sasha and Mutki
as Sondheim
Zale Kessler
as Bieler
Earl Boen
as Dr. Boyarski
Ivor Barry
as Gen. Hobbs
William Glover
as Maj. Cunningham
John Francis
as British Intelligence Aide
Raymond Skipp
as RAF Flight Sergeant
Marley Sims
as Rifka
Larry Rosenberg
as Rifka's Husband
Max Brooks
as Rifka's Son
Henry Kaiser
as Gestapo Officer
Milt Jamin
as Gestapo Soldier
Henry Brandon
as Nazi Officer
George Caldwell
as Gestapo Guard
Wolf Muser
as Desk Sergeant
Roy Goldman
as Hitler
Robert B. Goldberg
as Hitler Adjutant
John McKinney
as Elite Guard Officer
Eda Reiss Merin
as Frightened Jewish Woman
Manny Kleinmuntz
as Husband of Jewish Woman
Phil Adams
as Airport Sentry
Curt Lowens
as Airport Officer
Ron Diamond
as Pub Bartender
Gillian Eaton
as Pub Barmaid
Paddi Edwards
as Pub Waitress
Ian Bruce
as Klotskis Klown
Winnie McCarthy
as Picadilly Usherette
Spencer Henderson
as Klotskis Klown
Terence Marsh
as Startled British Officer
Tucker Smith
as Klotskis Klown
Robin Haynes
as Polish Flier
Ron Kuhlman
as Polish Flier
John Otrin
as Polish Flier
Blane Savage
as Polish Flier
Joey Sheck
as Polish Flier
Scott Beach
as Narrator
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for To Be or Not to Be

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (5)

Bancroft's sustained delights are not matched by Brooks, who seems to be trying too hard.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Brooks combines a backstage musical with a wartime romance and comes up with an eclectic comedy that races off into several directions, usually successfully.

Full Review… | October 23, 2004
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

Ssmashingly funny.

Full Review… | August 30, 2004
New York Times
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | February 1, 2004
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

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.

Full Review… | May 23, 2011
TV Guide

Audience Reviews for To Be or Not to Be

Very funny remake of a zany original. One of my favorite Mel Brooks films.

Christian C
Christian C

Super Reviewer


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 :)

Phil Hubbs
Phil Hubbs

Super Reviewer


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.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

To Be or Not to Be Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss To Be or Not to Be on our Movie forum!

News & Features