To Be or Not to Be

Black and white American comedy, 1942, dir: Ernst Lubitsch, Language: English, German, Subtitles: Hungarian, 99’



09.22. 20:00

Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Screenplay by Edwin Justus Mayer, Ernst Lubitsch
Director of photography: Rudolph Maté
Music by Werner R. Heymann
Cast: Carole Lombard, Jack Benny, Robert Stack
Genre: black comedy
Production: Romaine Film Corporation

Based on Menyhért (Melchior) Lengyel’s play, the film features a Warsaw theatre troupe pretending to be a detachment of the Gestapo in order to rescue Polish Jews. This outstanding black comedy changes its hue after a betrayal, to become ever darker, gloomier, vibrating of action. Lubitsch had a particular sense for timing the comic element, to make a joke mean something beyond itself: this refined sensitivity brought from Europe was called by his admirers, like Billy Wilder, Lubitsch’s hand or Lubitsch touch. This sensitivity of his was to bar him from driving towards less sophisticated genres like burlesque or farce. One of the characteristics of Lubitsch’s hand is his picking on or even ignoring the prude norms of America: by which Lubitsch’s freedom and greatness become manifest.