GenreComedy Music directorJohn Morris CountryUnited States
Release dateDecember 16, 1983 (1983-12-16) Based onTo Be or Not to Be
by Edwin Justus Mayer WriterThomas Meehan (screenplay), Ronny Graham (screenplay), Edwin Justus Mayer, Melchior Lengyel (story) CastMel Brooks (Dr. Frederick Bronski), Anne Bancroft (Anna Bronski), Tim Matheson (Lt. Andre Sobinski), Charles Durning (Col. Erhardt), Christopher Lloyd (Capt. Schultz), José Ferrer (Prof. Siletski) Similar moviesFury, Captain America: The First Avenger, Saving Private Ryan, The Thin Red Line, The Book Thief, Schindler's List
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To Be or Not to Be is a 1983 American war comedy film directed by Alan Johnson and produced by Mel Brooks. The screenplay was written by Ronny Graham and Thomas Meehan, based on the original story by Melchior Lengyel, Ernst Lubitsch and Edwin Justus Mayer. A remake of the 1942 film of the same name, the film starred Mel Brooks alongside his wife Anne Bancroft; Tim Matheson, Charles Durning, Christopher Lloyd, and José Ferrer also had starring roles.
This remake was mostly faithful to the 1942 film on which it was based and, in many cases, dialogue was taken verbatim from the earlier film. The characters of Bronski and Joseph Tura are, however, combined into a single character (played by Brooks). The character of the treacherous Professor Siletsky (here spelled Siletski) was made into a more comic, even somewhat buffoonish, figure; in the original he was the only completely serious character. Instead of having the company preparing for Hamlet, Bronski performs his "world famous, in Poland" highlights from Hamlet, including the To Be Or Not To Be soliloquy, from which the film's name is taken. His dresser, Anna, has been replaced with Sasha, allowing them to address the plight of gay people under the Nazis, as well as the Jews.
The film was favorably reviewed by Vincent Canby in the New York Times, who called it "smashingly funny."
Roger Ebert's film review stated that in the film, Mel Brooks "combines a backstage musical with a wartime romance and comes up with an eclectic comedy that races off into several directions, usually successfully."
It has a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating "Fresh."
However, the film was not a great commercial success, grossing only $13,030,214.
For his performance as Colonel Erhardt, Charles Durning was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award. At the 41st Golden Globe Awards, Durning was nominated for Best Supporting Actor and Anne Bancroft was nominated for Best Actress – Comedy or Musical.