To Be or Not to Be


1h 47m 1983
To Be or Not to Be

Brief Synopsis

An actor and his wife struggle to survive (and make a living) when the Nazis invade Poland in this remake of "To Be or Not to Be" (1942).

Photos & Videos

To Be or Not To Be - Movie Poster

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Comedy
War
Release Date
1983

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m

Synopsis

An actor and his wife struggle to survive (and make a living) when the Nazis invade Poland in this remake of "To Be or Not to Be" (1942).).

Crew

Alan Balsam

Editor

Anne Bancroft

Song Performer

Michael A Benson

Camera Operator

Ben Bernie & Orchestra

Song

Mel Brooks

Song Performer

Mel Brooks

Song

Mel Brooks

Producer

Ross Brown

Assistant Director

Ralph Burns

Original Music

Gene S Cantamessa

Sound

Kenneth Casey

Song

Tad Danielewski

Interpreter

Bart Doe

Visual Effects

Louis L Edemann

Sound Editor

Craig Edgar

Set Designer

Pamela Eilerson

Assistant Director

John M. Elliott Jr.

Makeup

Bruce Ericksen

Costume Supervisor

Wayne Fitzgerald

Titles

Nancy Forner

Assistant Editor

John Franco

Set Decorator

Rick Franklin

Sound Editor

Stanley Gibbs

Production Assistant

Bernie Godlove

Stunts

Ronnie Graham

Song

Ronny Graham

Screenplay

Jack Hayes

Original Music

Lindsay Hill

Video Playback

Gerald Hirschfeld

Director Of Photography

Buddy Joe Hooker

Stunts

Joseph E Hubbard

Set Designer

Iwona Izdebska

Dialogue Coach

Howard Jeffrey

Executive Producer

Gregg Landaker

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Terry Liebling

Casting

Ernst Lubitsch

Story By

Ann Somers Major

Costume Supervisor

Eugene Marks

Music Editor

Terence Marsh

Production Designer

Steve Maslow

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Edwin Justus Mayer

From Story

Princess Mclean

Production Assistant

Thomas Meehan

Screenplay

John Morris

Music

Dennis Parrish

Props

Harvey Parry

Stunts

Maceo Pinkard

Song

Cheri Ruff

Hair

Jack Frost Sanders

Production Manager

Jack Frost Sanders

Production Supervisor

Art Scholl

Stunts

Cynnie Troup

Script Supervisor

Bill Varney

Sound Re-Recording Mixer

Stephen Vaughan

Photography

Dan Wallin

Sound

Irene Walzer

Associate Producer

Dennis Washington

Art Director

Robert West

Key Grip

Albert Wolsky

Costume Designer

K Lenna Woodward

Production Associate

Anna Zappia

Production Coordinator

Dick Ziker

Stunt Coordinator

Photo Collections

To Be or Not To Be - Movie Poster
To Be or Not To Be - Movie Poster

Film Details

MPAA Rating
PG
Genre
Comedy
War
Release Date
1983

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 47m

Award Nominations

Best Supporting Actor

1983
Charles Durning

Articles

To Be or Not To Be (1983)


In 1972, Ernst Lubitsch's World War II-era comedy To Be or Not to Be (1942) was included in the Los Angeles Film Festival, thirty years after its original premiere. The screening provided cinephiles and critics alike with the opportunity to reassess what had been in its day a box office failure, damned by both the tragic death of leading lady Carole Lombard in a plane crash while on a bond tour a month before its release and subsequent audience diffidence about a movie making fun of the Third Reich only two months out from America's entry into the global conflict. Chief among those who discerned a lost classic was funnyman Mel Brooks, who announced his intention to remake the film as a vehicle for himself and actress-wife Anne Bancroft. Commitments to other projects delayed the production for a decade before Brooks got rolling on the update in the fall of 1982, shortly after the founding of his own production company, Brooksfilms.

A Mel Brooks film for all intents and purposes, To Be or Not to Be was signed by another director - Alan Johnson, a veteran Broadway choreographer who had overseen the Terpsichore in Brooks' The Producers (1967), Blazing Saddles (1974), and History of the World, Part 1 (1981). To adapt the Lubitsch script by Edwin Justus Mayer, Brooks relied upon old friend Ronny Graham, with whom he had first worked on Broadway in New Faces of 1952 (alongside such rising talents as Alice Ghostly, Paul Lynde, and Eartha Kitt) and Tony-winning playwright Thomas Meehan, who later adapted The Producers for Broadway. Taking for himself the key role of Frederick Bronski (played by Jack Benny in the original), a cut rate Shakespearean actor who takes on the Reich by impersonating first a Nazi official and then Adolf Hitler himself, Brooks installed Bancroft in the Carole Lombard role while dealing out supporting parts to such capable actors as Charles Durning, Christopher Lloyd, Jose Ferrer, and Tim Matheson. Brooks even made room in the ensemble for Estelle Reiner, wife of his longtime collaborator Carl Reiner, and his own 10-year-old son Max Brooks.

As fate would have it, this remake of To Be or Not to Be fared no better with moviegoers in 1983 than had the original in 1942. Brooks later blamed distributor 20th Century Fox, who rushed the release into the competitive Christmas season; critics of the day suggested instead that the film was further evidence that Brooks was losing his touch with popular tastes, that his manic Borsht Belt-derived style of comedy was outdated. Made for $9 million, To Be Or Not to Be earned back only $13, which represents a hefty loss according to Hollywood bookkeeping. Nonetheless the project retained a special place in the heart of Mel Brooks for putting him on the big screen alongside his wife of then twenty years for the first time. The pair had met in 1963, when Brooks was still a struggling writer and Bancroft was singing and dancing on a Perry Como TV special. They remained married for forty one years before Bancroft's death from uterine cancer in 2005. Bancroft's sparkling presence in To Be or Not to Be is the principal reason why the film remains Mel Brooks' personal favorite.

By Richard Harland Smith

Sources:

It's Good to be the King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks by James Robert Parish (Wiley, 2008)
The Big Screen Comedies of Mel Brooks by Robert Alan Crick (McFarland & Company, Ltd., 2002)
To Be Or Not To Be (1983)

To Be or Not To Be (1983)

In 1972, Ernst Lubitsch's World War II-era comedy To Be or Not to Be (1942) was included in the Los Angeles Film Festival, thirty years after its original premiere. The screening provided cinephiles and critics alike with the opportunity to reassess what had been in its day a box office failure, damned by both the tragic death of leading lady Carole Lombard in a plane crash while on a bond tour a month before its release and subsequent audience diffidence about a movie making fun of the Third Reich only two months out from America's entry into the global conflict. Chief among those who discerned a lost classic was funnyman Mel Brooks, who announced his intention to remake the film as a vehicle for himself and actress-wife Anne Bancroft. Commitments to other projects delayed the production for a decade before Brooks got rolling on the update in the fall of 1982, shortly after the founding of his own production company, Brooksfilms. A Mel Brooks film for all intents and purposes, To Be or Not to Be was signed by another director - Alan Johnson, a veteran Broadway choreographer who had overseen the Terpsichore in Brooks' The Producers (1967), Blazing Saddles (1974), and History of the World, Part 1 (1981). To adapt the Lubitsch script by Edwin Justus Mayer, Brooks relied upon old friend Ronny Graham, with whom he had first worked on Broadway in New Faces of 1952 (alongside such rising talents as Alice Ghostly, Paul Lynde, and Eartha Kitt) and Tony-winning playwright Thomas Meehan, who later adapted The Producers for Broadway. Taking for himself the key role of Frederick Bronski (played by Jack Benny in the original), a cut rate Shakespearean actor who takes on the Reich by impersonating first a Nazi official and then Adolf Hitler himself, Brooks installed Bancroft in the Carole Lombard role while dealing out supporting parts to such capable actors as Charles Durning, Christopher Lloyd, Jose Ferrer, and Tim Matheson. Brooks even made room in the ensemble for Estelle Reiner, wife of his longtime collaborator Carl Reiner, and his own 10-year-old son Max Brooks. As fate would have it, this remake of To Be or Not to Be fared no better with moviegoers in 1983 than had the original in 1942. Brooks later blamed distributor 20th Century Fox, who rushed the release into the competitive Christmas season; critics of the day suggested instead that the film was further evidence that Brooks was losing his touch with popular tastes, that his manic Borsht Belt-derived style of comedy was outdated. Made for $9 million, To Be Or Not to Be earned back only $13, which represents a hefty loss according to Hollywood bookkeeping. Nonetheless the project retained a special place in the heart of Mel Brooks for putting him on the big screen alongside his wife of then twenty years for the first time. The pair had met in 1963, when Brooks was still a struggling writer and Bancroft was singing and dancing on a Perry Como TV special. They remained married for forty one years before Bancroft's death from uterine cancer in 2005. Bancroft's sparkling presence in To Be or Not to Be is the principal reason why the film remains Mel Brooks' personal favorite. By Richard Harland Smith Sources: It's Good to be the King: The Seriously Funny Life of Mel Brooks by James Robert Parish (Wiley, 2008) The Big Screen Comedies of Mel Brooks by Robert Alan Crick (McFarland & Company, Ltd., 2002)

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States December 1983

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1983

Re-released in United States on Video January 12, 1994

Remake of "To Be or Not to Be" (USA/1942) directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Carole Lombard and Jack Benny.

Formerly distributed by Key Video.

Re-released in Paris December 12, 1990.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1983

Re-released in United States on Video January 12, 1994

Released in United States December 1983