Fifth about The Seventh

To Be or Not to Be (1942)

To Be or Not to Be: Ernst Lubitsch’s masterpiece is a prodigious mix of comedy of manners, political satire, war thriller and black comedy; it’s all very delicate and sophisticated (and also courageous, considering the subject matter and the date of its release), as one would expect from the director. The performances, lightly comedic, are all memorable: Jack Benny manages to play a character and various characters his thespian character plays, all equally well; his double-takes are priceless; Carole Lombard is convincingly alluring, and quite attractive to boot (the gown she uses is of great help); Sig Ruman nearly steals the show with the bumbling heavy (with a performance that would become later the blueprint for comedic Nazi villains). Dorothy Spencer’s editing keeps the pace snappy and the film very lean, and it’s well complemented by Werner R. Heymann’s musical score.

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