To Be Or Not To Be Blu-ray
The Mel Brooks Collection Blu-ray
9 films 9 Blu-ray discs
120 page book
Fox Home Entertainment 2010

Mel Brooks managed to mane Hitler somewhat funny in The Producer’s Springtime For Hitler. He is much less successful at making WW II Poland and the Gestapo comic in To Be Or Not To Be now available on Blu-ray as part of The Mel Brooks Collection 9 movie Blu-ray box set. This 1983 Mel Brooks comedy also stars Anne Bancroft and Tim Matheson. Aside from the finale, this comedy is sub par.

Brooks and Bancroft play Warsaw theatre owners Frederic and Anna Bronski. Their world changes a bit when the Germans invade Poland. Anna’s beau (Tim Matheson) is a Polish flyboy. The flyboy returns to Poland to stop a traitor (Jose Ferrer) from delivering a list of partisans to the Gestapo. The Bronskis get involved in the plot to stop Ferrer.

This means Bronski has to play the Gestapo commandant for the traitor and the traitor for the Gestapo commandant (Charles Durning).

This Mel Brooks comedy is a remake of the 1942 film starring Jack Benny and Carol Lombard. The original failed to attract an audience in part because Lombard died before its release and in part because WW II was still going on.

This version of To Be or Not To Be fails because it has no core. It becomes a simple series of sometimes funny and sometimes not so funny sketches. The war, the Nazis, the Gestapo, the pink triangle homosexuals had to wear, Jews having to hide are just that much set decoration and background material.

The last act of this comedy is quite original and interesting.

Special features on To Be Or Not To Be Blu-ray: Brooks and Bancroft: A Perfect Pair, How Serious Can Mel Brooks Really Get?, Profiles of Mel Brooks, Anne Bancroft and Charles Durning, To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Trivia! – Trivia Track, Isolated Score Track (DTS MA)


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