To Be Or Not To Be

(USA/1942—directed by Ernst Lubitsch)

This comic yet poignant masterwork from director Ernst Lubitsch (Ninotchka) stars Jack Benny and Carole Lombard as husband-and-wife actors in Nazi-occupied Warsaw, who become caught up in a deadly spy plot.

Conceived as an ideal screen vehicle for the great Jack Benny, To Be or Not To Be went into production soon after the U.S. entered World War II; without losing sight of the reality of the Nazi menace, Lubitsch brilliantly balances satire, romance, slapstick and wartime reality in a comic high-wire act that has never been equaled. Lombard’s sparkling performance was her last: she died soon after filming, while on tour to sell war bonds. (99 min.)

“Could be Lubitsch’s finest achievement… One of the most profound, emotionally complex comedies ever made.” -Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader




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