To Be or Not to Be (1942)

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

An hilarious satire produced and directed by Ernst Lubitsch from the story by Melchior Lengyel (Ninotchka (1939)). Jack Benny and Carole Lombard (her last film) star as the leaders of a Polish acting troupe that works to foil the Nazis during World War II in occupied Warsaw. The actors themselves are of the over-the-top variety so part of the comedy is in the portrayal of the Nazis as buffoons who can be fooled by such "hams" intent on intercepting a spy’s information that would damage Poland’s resistance movement. Robert Stack plays a Polish officer who is not only part of a love triangle that includes Benny and wife Lombard but is also the one given the mission to keep the German spy (Stanley Ridges) from delivering his list of resistance members names to the stereotypically brutish German Colonel (Sig Ruman). For patriotic reasons Benny helps Stack anyway directing his group of actors (Felix Bressart Lionel Atwill Tom Dugan George Lynn) to play various roles to foil their common foes. Charles Halton (as a theater producer) among others also appears. Werner Heymann received his third of four unrewarded Oscar nominations for his Score; the film was added to the National Film Registry in 1996. #49 on AFI’s 100 Funniest Movies list.

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