Friday, September 30, 2011

Mel Brooks & Anne Bancroft in To Be or Not To Be (1982)

In this faithful remake of Ernst Lubitsch's 1942 classic, Mel Brooks and his wife Anne Bancroft play the Bronskis - successful stage stars in Poland on the cusp of WWII. They're about to be dealt a blow when Hitler's troops come marching into Warsaw and take over their home and theater. But these Bronskis and their troop of actors are a plucky bunch, and hatch a plan to rescue friends, foil a double agent and escape Poland with a cadre of frightened Jews. Will they make it out safely?
This is not one of Brooks' best known films, but it's got a lot of charm and does a nice job of adding socially relevant content of the 1980's to the storyline. Look for James Haake as Anna Bronski's dresser and a gay victim of Nazi oppression.

This film is remembered by a small group of fans, but is somewhat forgotten by the general public. It is available on DVD and can be found in full on YouTube, but is rarely screened on TV. The trailer is above, uploaded to YouTube by alifeatthemovies.

Obscurity factor: 2 (somewhat remembered, though not iconic, available on DVD & YouTube)


  1. I saw this in the theater when it was first released, but have not seen it since then. It did not leave much of an impression on me, and I barely remember it. It seems that it was one of those movies that was OK but that I had already forgotten by the time I walked out of the theater. However, maybe I will give it another viewing.

  2. It's always been one of my favorite Brooks films...