To Be or Not to Be

To Be or Not to Be

To Be or Not to Be is a 1942 American black comedy film directed by Ernst Lubitsch and starring Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack, Felix Bressart, Lionel Atwill, Stanley Ridges and Sig Ruman. The plot concerns a troupe of actors in Nazi-occupied Warsaw who use their abilities at disguise and acting to fool the occupying troops. It was adapted by Lubitsch (uncredited) and Edwin Justus Mayer from the story by Melchior Lengyel. The film was released one month after actress Carole Lombard was killed in an airplane crash. In 1996, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant."


The setting is Warsaw, Poland, just before the 1939 Nazi Germany invasion. The well-known stars of a Warsaw theater company, "ham" actor Josef Tura (Jack Benny) and his beautiful wife, Maria (Carole Lombard), along with the rest of the company, are rehearsing "Gestapo", a play satirizing the Nazis. One of the actors, Bronski (Tom Dugan), even proves that he can pass for Hitler in the street.