We conclude our discussion about Ernst Lubitsch with a discussion of his 1942 film To Be or Not To Be, the story of Joseph and Maria Tura (Jack Benny and Carole Lombard), two actors in Poland who are in a current run of Shakespeare’s Hamlet though working on a new play called Gestapo. The new play never happens on stage but they’re able to act it out in real life after Poland falls to the Nazis. The film is one of the first films to openly lampoon Nazis, made in a time before Pearl Harbor — though released afterward — in a time when mocking Nazis wasn’t as acceptable as it should have been.
Recorded at the studios of Podcast Detroit, Paula Guthat, Ken Stanley, and Lutz Bacher join Mike to talk about this stellar comedy of manners. In the first of a two-part interview, Joseph McBride talks about his latest book, How Did Lubitsch Do It?