To Be or Not to Be ★★★★

A play with "political consequences"
By laughing in the face of tyranny.
Dictator as delicatessen.

Was worried going in that after Ninotchka left me baffled that I might never find the "Lubitstch touch," but the film's rip roaring first act pretty much quelled any issues (even if there's then 15 minutes of dead air exposition that follows before picking right back up). Repetition of jokes—the soliloquy, "So they call me...," "SCHULTZ!"—only get funnier with each variation. But Lubistch also manages the most clever moment of pathos with the speech from Merchant of Venice, which fits in that strange moment of being delightfully funny while also a note of resistance. Perhaps more than a work against the Nazis—it's as anti-Germany as Inglorious Basterds, which essentially rips A LOT from this (yet QT barely mentioned in the interviews)—is a film about the nature of acting: that is, one needn't convince oneself of the role, but only the audience he or she plays to.

Report this review