On Veteran’s Day, Thursday, November 11, Kol Shalom will be presenting the PG-rated 1983 version of To Be or Not to Be at 7 PM by zoom (link to be provided later).
This 1 hour and 47-minute World War II dark comedy takes place in Poland in 1940. A bad Polish actor is just trying to make a living when what should intrude but World War II in the form of an invasion. His wife has the habit of entertaining young Polish officers while he’s on stage which is also a source of depression to him. When one of her officers comes back on a Secret Mission, the actor takes charge and comes up with a plan for them to escape Nazi-occupied Warsaw. The troupe of mostly Jewish actors must use their abilities at disguise and acting to fool the occupying troops and save the Polish underground resistance movement.
Instead of the 1942 original which featured Jack Benny and Carol Lombard, this remake presents the talents of Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft, Jose Ferrer, Christopher Lloyd, Charles Durning, and Tim Matheson. This is the only movie in which husband and wife Mel and Anne starred together. During World War II, Mel Brooks served as a Corporal in the U.S. Army in France, where part of his duties included defusing landmines before the infantry moved into the area. Brooks fought in the Battle of the Bulge in late 1944. Charles Durning was also a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and was present at the liberation of the Nazi death camp at Buchenwald. In spite of the movie’s title, viewers should not expect much Hamlet—maybe some hamming it up, though.