Tuesday, January 17, 2006

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

"To Be or Not to Be"
That's not a question this time but a movie with Jack Benny as the head of a Polish theatrical troupe that includes his wife who's played by the beautiful Carole Lombard.
Need Maven say that this is a comedy?
Need Maven say that you probably figured that out as soon as you saw Jack Benny's name?!
Our fearless band of actors tangle with Hitler's Gestapo over the names of the Polish Resistance Movement.
Okay.
So basically it isn't a funny subject from a time when so much of the world was being plunged into a war of horror by so few who were still in power when this movie was made in 1942.
Hollywood did its part in the propaganda war by helping shape public opinion, support and morale on the side of our military and allies.
Which is where the likes of Jack Benny comes in.
Benny may not have the reputation that Bob Hope did for entertaining our troops but he did help the home fires bright.
"To Be or Not to Be" doesn't have any of the regulars from his radio show like his wife, Mary Livingston, or band leader, Phil Harris.
[L. to r.: Charles Halton, Tom Dugan,(?), Jack Benny, Carole Lombard, Robert Stack, and John Ridges)
What it does have is a young (and very good-looking) Robert Stack as Lieutenant Sobinski, plus veterans such as Sig Ruman (Colonel Ehrhardt), Maude Eburne (Anna), Lionel Atwill (Rawitch), and Halliwell Hobbes (General Armstrong.
What you end up with is a very funny movie well-worth taking home, preferably for good!
Where else would you find Felix Bressart as Greenberg telling Lionel Atwill, "Mr. Rawitch, what you are I wouldn't eat."
Rawitch: "How dare you call me a ham!"
And Carole Lombard as Maria Tura:
It's becoming ridiculous the way you grab attention. If I tell a joke, you finish it. If I go on a diet, you lose the weight. If I have a cold, you cough. And if we should have a baby, I'm not so sure I'd be the mother.
Jack Benny as her husband, Josef Tura:
I'm statisfied to be the father.
[Jack Benny in disguise with Carole Lombard]
(Another Benny line:)
You can't have your cake and shoot it.
Sig Ruman (Col. Ehrhardt) gets a good take on the Fuhrer:
They named a brandy after Napoleon, they made a herring out of Bismarck, and the Fuhrer is going to end up as a piece of cheese!
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Maven definitely rates it as a musthave video!
And any titles or stories that you have comments, questions or suggestions about . . . please email her at theoldmoviemaven@yahoo.com.
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If you're trying to find such a vintage movie, try www.torysmysterymovies.com.
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