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To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Carole Lombard , Jack Benny , Ernst Lubitsch , J.C. Nugent  |  NR |  DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)

Price: $39.95
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Product Details

  • Actors: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Dorothy Sebastian, George K. Arthur, Polly Moran
  • Directors: Ernst Lubitsch, J.C. Nugent
  • Writers: Ernst Lubitsch, J.C. Nugent, Edwin Justus Mayer, Melchior Lengyel, Ralph Spence
  • Producers: Ernst Lubitsch
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: March 1, 2005
  • Run Time: 99 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (99 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0006Z2KYI
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,257 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "To Be or Not to Be" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Jack Benny Comedy Short: The Rounder
  • Wartime promo: Buy Savings Bonds! A Patriotic Drama

Editorial Reviews


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
72 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Carole Lombardo's final movie and Jack Benny's best February 12, 2004
Format:VHS Tape
"To Be or Not to Be" has the distinction of being the last movie starring Carole Lombard before her tragic death in an airplane crash in 1942 and is also remembered as having Jack Benny's finest film performance. But beyond the qualities of the stars Ernst Lubitsch's film deserves to be singled out for its anti-Nazis position, a distinction shared with Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator" and few other films. Keep in mind that the film was released on February 15, 1942, not only a month after Lombard's death but only two months after Pearl Harbor, which means it was in the works before the United States entered World War II.
Lubitsch and Melchior Lengyel came up with the story, which was turned into a screenplay by Edwin Justus Mayer. The story of "To Be or Not to Be" is of a Polish theatrical company that is in Warsaw preparing to perform an anti-Nazi melodrama on the eve of World War II. In the leading roles are the husband and wife team of Maria (Lombard) and Joseph Tura (Benny), who are trained in Shakespeare. However, the production is canceled by the Polish government because they are afraid Germany will attack the country is a play critical of the Nazis goes on (you know how touchy Hitler can be). So the Turas put on "Hamlet" instead and while Joseph does Hamlet's "To be or not to be" soliloquy, Maria is visited backstage by Lieutenant Stanislav Sobinski (Robert Stack), a young pilot in the Polish Air Force. Then the war breaks out, Sobinski makes it to London to fight with the RAF, and the Turas remain in occupied Warsaw.
While in London Sobinski meets with Professor Siletsky (Stanley Ridges), a Nazi agent posing as a Polish patriot, who gets the names of friends and relatives from the pilots.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
I'm so surprised that this classic is not revived more often or is not better known. It really is one of the most superb films turned out during the war years and is significant for a number of diverse reasons. One is that Carole Lombard, the stunning comedienne par excellence of the 30's and wife of Clark Gable was killed in a plane crash on a war bond selling tour soon after completing her role in it and secondly that Jack Benny, normally regarded as a radio personality, has the film role of a lifetime in this classic and has never been better.
The film has so many wonderful moments and features that it is hard to know where to begin. Carole Lombard, one of my favourite actresses of the 1930's has never been better than in this role and it is a melancoly experience watching her so radiant, so beautiful and full of life in this her last film prior to her death. The role of Maria Tura is at once street smart, sexy and totally up to taking on the Nazi's in the script. This performance stands up there with all her classic performances in "Twentieth Century" "My Man Godfrey" "Hands Across The Tabe" "In Name Only" and "Vigil In The Night".
Jack Benny, famous for his radio performances and later television work shines in the role of her husband Joseph Tura your typical egocentric actor who is known for putting the "ham" in Hamlet once and for all !!! The supporting cast is first rate with Robert Stack shining in one of his earliest roles as Lieut. Stanislav Sobinski, Maria's lover who always exits the front row of the theatre as Joseph Tura the hammest actor in all of Warsaw launches into his "To be or not to be........ speech and has his big moment ruined night after night!!
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By forrie
Format:VHS Tape
Ernst Lubitsch's 1942 version of "TO BE OR NOT TO BE", is the #1 BLACK COMEDY classic of all-time. Selected by the American Film Institute (AFI) in 2000 as one of the greatest films in the "TOP 100 Years, 100 Laughs" category. (Carole Lombard was also selected as one of the Top 25 Hollywood Female Legends. (AFI's 100 Years 100 Stars (1999)).
NOTE: Black or Dark Comedy - are movies that can make us laugh but also instill an uneasy feeling. The laughter comes from subject matter that is offbeat & perhaps a little macabre.
Summary: Director Ernst Lubitsch's Black Comedy is about a Polish troupe of actors headed by Joseph Tura (Jack Benny - hysterical (best known for radio & television)) & his wife Maria (Carole Lombard - talented & beautiful (this was her final picture. She died in an airplane crash 3 weeks after film completion. Returning home to her husband Clark Gable from a very successful "War Bond" drive.). They find their work & lives interrupted because of Nazi occupation during WWII. To protect the Polish underground the actors become involved in various schemes requiring them to impersonate Nazi Officials & soldiers confusing their operations. This creates a satirical (Dark Comedy) situation. The actors are able to expose a dangerous double agent, foil the Nazis & escape the country safely.
A genius Director, fabulous cast "TO BE OR NOT TO BE (1942)" remains as one of the great films filled with; propaganda, farces, spies, thrills, melodrama, tragedy, even vaudeville wrapped all in one unforgetable package!!!!
This VHS Video, 99 minutes in length, no extras, presented in Black & White, Full Screen format w/hi-fi sound. Excellent quality picture & sound.
This is a timeless Black Comedy that everyone can enjoy & experience the war years of Hollywood & its invaluable contribution. "To Be Or Not To Be" that is the answer! Enjoy.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Lubitsch and Lombard, a match made in Heaven. ...
Lubitsch and Lombard, a match made in Heaven. Her last film, released days after her tragic death in a plane crash.
Published 17 days ago by Peter Knego
5.0 out of 5 stars Great classic movie
Great classic movie. It was done in the middle of World War II and does a nice balance of being a comedy yet a commentary on the times of the day. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Janine Mitchell
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Glad I bought it. Cleverly plotted. Overall somber background means I won't replay it often
Published 2 months ago by William H. Heuer
5.0 out of 5 stars It was the First Movie I have seen featuring Carole ...
It was the First Movie I have seen featuring Carole Lombard, and it was the last movie she ever made.Jack Benney looked so young!
Published 3 months ago by Frederick P. Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I liked the Movies. Thank you
Published 3 months ago by Shantal N.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Funny and Entertaining!
Many belly laughs....Jack Benny at his best! Loved it!
Published 3 months ago by Digger
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
terrific comedy movie the cast was great the entire storyline was fantastic
Published 3 months ago by JAMES W BOYD JR
3.0 out of 5 stars At best, it's OK...
This movie gets good reviews here-and-there but it didn't do much for me. I appreciate Jack Benny but not in this forum.
Published 4 months ago by D. Vick
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Classic WW2 comedy which was well-needed relief at the time. One of my very favorites.
Published 4 months ago by B. A., Troyanoski
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Film Jack Benny Ever Made! Last Film of Carole Lombard
Remade by Mel Brooks several decades later. A down and out thespian troope in Poland makes fun of Hilter at the start of WWII. Read more
Published 8 months ago by MHS
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