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To Be or Not to Be (1983 film)

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Title: To Be or Not to Be (1983 film)  
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Language: English
Subject: Mel Brooks, John Morris (composer), 41st Golden Globe Awards, José Ferrer, Rolls-Royce 20/25
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To Be or Not to Be (1983 film)

To Be or Not to Be
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alan Johnson
Produced by Mel Brooks
Screenplay by Ronny Graham
Thomas Meehan
Story by Melchior Lengyel
Ernst Lubitsch
Based on To Be or Not to Be 
by Edwin Justus Mayer
Starring Mel Brooks
Anne Bancroft
Charles Durning
Christopher Lloyd
Narrated by Scott Beach
Music by John Morris
Cinematography Gerald Hirschfeld
Edited by Alan Balsam
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • December 16, 1983 (1983-12-16)
Running time 107 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9 million[2]
Box office $13,030,214[3]

To Be or Not to Be is a 1983 American comedy-drama 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.


Connections with the original

This remake was 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 combined into a single character, however (played by Brooks). The character of the treacherous Professor Siletsky (here spelled Siletski) was 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.


The film was favorably reviewed by Vincent Canby in the New York Times, who called it "smashingly funny."[4]

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."[5]

It has a 63% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, indicating "Fresh."[6]

However, the film was not a great commercial success, grossing only $13,030,214.[3]


For his humorous performance as Colonel Erhardt, Charles Durning was nominated for the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award.


  1. ^ (PG)"TO BE OR NOT TO BE".  
  2. ^ Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p260
  3. ^ a b To Be or Not to Be at Box Office Mojo
  4. ^ Canby, Vincent. The New York Times film review, December 16, 1983. Last accessed: January 30, 2011.
  5. ^ Ebert, Roger. Chicago Sun Times film review, December 16, 1983. Last accessed: January 30, 2011.
  6. ^ To Be or Not to Be at Rotten Tomatoes

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