To Be or Not to Be

To Be or Not to Be

  • Passed
  • 1942
  • 99 min
  • USA
  • comedy, war

During the Nazi occupation of Poland, an acting troupe becomes embroiled in a Polish soldier's efforts to track down a German spy.

Director: Ernst Lubitsch

Screenwriter: Edwin Justus Mayer

Stars: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack

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.


  • Ernst Lubitsch
    Ernst Lubitsch

    Ernst Lubitsch (January 28, 1892 - November 30, 1947) was a German-born film director. His urbane comedies of manners gave him the reputation of being Hollywood's most elegant and sophisticated director; as his prestige grew, his films were promoted as having "the Lubitsch touch." In 1947 he received an Honorary Academy Award for his distinguished contributions to the art...

Main Cast


Producer: Ernst Lubitsch, Alexander Korda

Editor: Dorothy Spencer

Director Of Photography: Rudolph Maté

Original Music Composer: Werner R. Heymann

Production Design: Vincent Korda, Julia Heron

Sound: Frank Maher

Make Up / Hair: Gordon Bau


Source: based on a story by Melchior Lengyel

Tagline: The Picture Everyone Wants To See.

Genres: comedy, war

Certificate: Passed

Categories: screwball comedy, nazi occupied poland, world war two, year 1939, love triangle, gestapo, poland, impersonation, satire, double agent, warsaw ghetto, jealousy, british intelligence, reference to william shakespeare, disguise, backstage, polish resistance, acting troupe, bomber pilot, blitzkrieg


Year: 1942

Runtime: 99 min

Country: USA

Language: English, German

Color: Black and White

Aspect Ratio: 1.37 : 1

Sound Mix: Mono

Also Known As

  • Vogliamo vivere! (IT)
  • Sein oder Nichtsein (DE)


  • Kate Cameron (New York Daily News)

    It isn't, I am sorry to say, Lubitsch's most intriguing comedy, nor is it the best of Jack Benny vehicles, but it will do until another buggy comes along.

  • David Parkinson (Empire Magazine)

    A masterpiece satire around the Second World War is more likely to be appreciated now after some distance.

  • Keith Phipps (The Dissolve)

    Lubitsch understood at the time, even if many critics and filmgoers didn't, that all those elements and all that rule-breaking make To Be Or Not To Be brilliant. Full Review ...