To Be or Not to Be

To Be or Not to Be ★★★½

The last time I saw this, I didn’t think it was one of Lubitsch’s best. Maybe 15 years and an upgrade to the Criterion Blu-ray will change that. 
“You might offend Hitler.”
“Well wouldn’t that be too bad?”

It seems like Lubitsch’s heart was more in the drama than the comedy. That- and the WWII backdrop, heavy on the nazis- creates a conflicted tone that I never quite vibed with. 
Jack Benny and Carole Lombard’s characters are shady, and I could never root for them. There are couples, and people wanting to fuck each other, but there is no romance or love for us to cheer for. You’re on Benny and Lombard’s side by default, because they’re against the nazis, not because you’re fond of their characters. 
The jokes feel like they were added to a drama/thriller script. 
I don’t dislike it, it’s still Lubitsch, one of my all time favorite directors. Everything he does is great. I just don’t think it’s as good as his films with Maurice Chevalier or Herbert Marshall, for example. I even prefer ANGEL.
TO BE actually manages to build up legitimate suspense… I almost wish Lubitsch had left out the comedy completely. It would be fascinating to see what he do without humor.

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