To Be or Not To Be
(w Edwin Justus Mayer, dir. Ernst Lubitsch, 1942), 99 mins
This is director Ernst Lubitsch’s sparklingly witty screwball anti-Nazi farce about an acting troupe who impersonate members of the Gestapo to save Polish resisters. The director felt that Americans would be more concerned about Poland if he could arouse their sympathy through laughter by applying the celebrated “Lubitsch touch” to the Nazis and their adversaries. The substance of the film’s satire is its insight into the evil ordinary men are capable of when they get a taste of power, and its engaging message that even egotistical actors can do something swell when they act like human beings.
Introductory remarks by Dr. John Schultheiss