To Be or Not to Be
To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not to Be is a black comedy about a Polish theater company--led by Joseph and Maria Tura (Jack Benny and Carole Lombard)--that turns to espionage after being shut down by the invading Nazis.

Directed By:
Rated: PG
Running Time:
Release Date: March 6, 1942
DVD Release Date: March 1, 2005
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Critic Score: 98% Rotten Tomatoes™ Critic Reviews

Consensus: A complex and timely satire with as much darkness as slapstick, Ernst Lubitsch's To Be or Not To Be delicately balances humor and ethics.

TIME Magazine

To Be is a very funny comedy, salted to taste with melodrama and satire.

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Bosley Crowther
New York Times

To say it is callous and macabre is understating the case.

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Barbara Shulgasser
Common Sense Media

Classic '40s anti-Nazi comedy has some violence.

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Variety Staff

Lubitsch's guidance provides a tense dramatic pace with events developed deftly and logically throughout.

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Dave Kehr
Chicago Reader

One of the most profound, emotionally complex comedies ever made, covering a range of tones from satire to slapstick to shocking black humor.

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Edgar Anstey
The Spectator

So long the milieu claims to be nothing nearer Europe than the stage Hollywood studio (and why otherwise should everyone speak self-consciously good American?), the fun waxes fast and [furious].

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Rod McShane
Time Out

It's certainly one of the finest comedies ever to come out of Paramount.

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Charles Taylor

Terribly funny.

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Tim Brayton
Antagony & Ecstasy

It's not all-time championship Lubitsch.... But the film is operating in two totally distinct comic modes and both of them are executed perfectly.

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More reviews for To Be or Not to Be

Flixster Audience Score: 94% Flixster User Reviews
Kevin M. Williams
Many comedies giftwrap the jokes so that the poor rubes (which'd be us) know that that is what they're hearing and/or seeing (think of Mel Brooks or a… More
Randy Tippy
As much a political statement as it is a comedy. Probably Jack Benny's best work in film and the role for which he's most remembered. Mr. Benny kept… More
Bob O'Reilly
Quentin Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds lovingly ripped dozens of pages straight from the books of cinema history. From "actors" playing Nazis… More
Stella Dallas
a brilliant satire and a daring film to make in the early years of WW2 when not many were laughing. also the final screen appearance of the ridiculously… More
Aj V
This movie is hilarious, it has a great cast and a good director, and the story is interesting. It's even funnier than Brooks' 80s remake. I highly… More
Jennifer Xu
Very very funny. I really like Lubitsch's humor because it's so light even in the midst of such a serious subject. Somehow the Nazi occupation is… More