To Be or Not to Be (1983)

Description[from Freebase]

To Be or Not to Be is a 1983 American comedy-drama film directed by Alan Johnson, produced by Mel Brooks with Howard Jeffrey as executive producer and Irene Walzer as associate producer. The screenplay was written by Ronny Graham and Thomas Meehan, based on the original story by Melchior Lengyel, Ernst Lubitsch and Edwin Justus Mayer. It is a remake of the 1942 film of the same title. 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 one of the first major American films to acknowledge that homosexuals were persecuted by the Third Reich, along with other Holocaust victims. Homosexuality aside, this version was extremely faithful to the 1942 film on which it was based, and in many cases dialogue was taken verbatim from the earlier film. The character of the treacherous Professor Siletsky (here spelled Siletski) was, however, made into more of a comic figure, and even into somewhat of a buffoon, whereas in the original he was the one completely serious character in the film. Siletski, played by Stanley Ridges in the 1942 film, was here played by José Ferrer.


Over a decade after Mel Brooks envisioned a Nazi musical in The Producers, he got his chance to make one for real, in the remake of Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 film To Be or Not to Be. The movie itself is kind of a dud (Polish actor makes do during the Nazi invasion, impersonates the Germans to get out of trouble), but listen for the dirge theme, which was stolen e-x-a-c-t-l-y from the ominous tune periodically underlying Raiders of the Lost Ark. Listen for yourself!

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