Watch To Be or Not to Be
- 1 hr 47 min
In the 1983 film To Be or Not to Be, directed by Alan Johnson and starring Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft and Ronny Graham, a group of Polish actors in occupied Warsaw during World War II use their craft to outwit the Nazis and help their fellow citizens. Brooks plays Frederick Bronski, the head actor of a struggling theater troupe desperate for a hit production. Bancroft plays his wife, Anna, who co-stars and is also the troupe's costume designer. When the Germans invade Poland and close the theaters, the Bronskis and their troupe are forced to work in a cabaret, performing Hitler-approved musical numbers.
Bronski, sensing an opportunity to help the resistance, agrees to help a young Polish soldier named Sobinski, played by Graham, to smuggle out a message to London. But when Sobinski is discovered and killed, the Bronskis are forced to take even bigger risks to continue their work.
The stakes become even higher when they become embroiled in a plot to smuggle a British spy out of Poland disguised as a German officer. As they plan and execute the dangerous mission, they must also evade the suspicions of the Gestapo officer in charge of the local theater scene, played by Charles Durning.
Throughout the film, Brooks and Bancroft demonstrate their impeccable comedic timing and chemistry. The movie's humor is often dark, but it doesn't shy away from the horrors of war or the real dangers faced by the characters.
To Be or Not to Be is a remake of a 1942 film of the same name, which starred Jack Benny and Carole Lombard. The remake has some notable differences, including a greater emphasis on the emotional toll the war takes on the characters and a more overtly Jewish identity for the Bronskis.
The film was not a commercial success and received mixed reviews upon release, but it has since developed a cult following. Fans appreciate the film's blend of humor and drama, its clever twists and turns, and the performances of Brooks and Bancroft.
To Be or Not to Be is also notable for its depiction of the theater as a force for resistance and subversion. The film suggests that even in times of war and oppression, art can be a powerful tool for resistance and survival.
Overall, To Be or Not to Be is an entertaining and thought-provoking film that offers a unique perspective on World War II and the power of theater. It may not be a classic on the level of some of Brooks' other films, but it is definitely worth watching for fans of comedy and wartime drama alike.
To Be or Not to Be is a 1983 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 47 minutes. It has received moderate reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 6.8 and a MetaScore of 61.