As nervy as it is hilarious, this screwball masterpiece from Ernst Lubitsch stars Jack Benny and, in her final screen appearance, Carole Lombard as husband-and-wife thespians in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who become caught up in a dangerous spy plot. To Be or Not to Be is a Hollywood film of the boldest black humor, which went into production soon after the U.S. entered World War II. Lubitsch manages to brilliantly balance political satire, romance, slapstick, and urgent wartime suspense in a comic high-wire act that has never been equaled. —The Criterion Collection
b. Jan. 29, 1892, Berlin. d. Nov. 30, 1947, Hollywood. The son of a prosperous tailor, he was drawn to the stage while participating in plays staged by his high school, which he quit at 16. To satisfy both his own urge to act and his father’s desire that he take over the family business, he began leading a double life, working as a bookkeeper at his father’s store by day and appearing in cabarets and music halls by night.
In 1911 he joined Max Reinhardt’s famous Deutsches Theater, where he rapidly advanced from bit parts to character leads. To supplement his income, he took a job in 1912 as an apprentice and general-purpose handyman at Berlin’s Bioscope film studios. The following year he began appearing in a series of film comedies, emphasizing ethnic Jewish humor, in which he played a character named Meyer. He became very successful as a comedian and soon began writing and directing his own films. Gradually, Lubitsch abandoned acting to concentrate on directing… read more
Lubitsch daringly transfers the normally frivolous and parochial theatre/backstage movie sub-genre into a context infused with powerful, life-and-death relevance. Everything in the film is supposedly about preparation for performance, but the preparation becomes the performance itself, and thus the crux of the entertainment. A brilliant balance between comedy and drama.
Fenomenale Lubitsch.Và ammirato enormemente solo per il rischio assunto nello girare una pellicola del genere il quel periodo.La sceneggiatura è davvero grandiosa,con dialoghi brillanti,tempi comici perfetti e gag grottesche al massimo:i colloqui tra il professore e il colonnello sono divini e Hitler che dice "Heil,per me" è da antologia.Provocatorio,irriverente,geniale come pochi altri...davvero un grande film.4*
Après la formidable découverte qu’a été Haute Pègre, je continue mon exploration du cinéaste qu’est Ernst Lubitsch avec une oeuvre encensée un peu partout To Be or Not To Be. Le moins que l’on puisse… read review
Cheeky, snappy – it’s got the trademark, bumbling lightness of Lubitsch’s comedy. Yet excessive froth is the least of its concerns, with the film suffering initially from rather confusing, jarring… read review