To Be or Not to Be [Criterion Collection] [Blu-ray] [1942]

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Overview

Special Features

  • New audio commentary featuring film historian David Kalat
  • Pinkus's Shoe Palace, a 1916 German silent short directed by and starring Ernst Lubitsch, with a new piano score by Donald Sosin
  • Lubitsch Le Patron, a 2010 French documentary on the director's career
  • Two episodes of The Screen Guild Theater, a radio anthology series: Variety (1940), starring Jack Benny, Claudette Colbert, and Lubitsch, and To Be Or Not To Be (1942), an adaptation of the film, starring William Powell, Diana Lewis, and Sig Ruman

Synopsis

To Be or Not to Be
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

Cast & Crew

  • Carole Lombard
    Carole Lombard - Maria Tura
  • Jack Benny
    Jack Benny - Joseph Tura
  • Robert Stack
    Robert Stack - Lt. Stanislav Sobinski
  • Felix Bressart
    Felix Bressart - Greenberg
  • Lionel Atwill
    Lionel Atwill - Rawitch
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