Thursday, May 08, 2008

to be or not to be


yes a cultural reference but not to the famous soliloquy from hamlet but rather to my all-time-ever-most-thoroughly favourite movie starring jack benny and carole lombard as poland's greatest shakespearean actors. my thoughts were drawn to it just now because of a reference by dick cavett in his latest ny times column:

"Or maybe you know and revere as I do the classic Jack Benny/Carole Lombard/Ernst Lubitsch comedy “To Be or Not to Be.” (If you’ve never seen it, first things first: forget reading this and rent it.) I chose it as one of my all-time favorite films when it was my night to do so on Turner Classic Movies, getting to sit alongside the all-knowing and distinguished Robert Osborne."

wiki notes: "The film flopped upon its release, mainly because the American audience of the time was shocked at what they perceived as a film poking fun at the Nazis' 1939 invasion of Poland. They were especially offended by Colonel Earhardt's line: "Oh, yes I saw him [Tura] in 'Hamlet' once. What he did to Shakespeare we are now doing to Poland"."

do not, i repeat, DO NOT be fooled into watching mel brooks' remake. ok, the first scene where he and anne bancroft sing 'sweet georgia brown' in polish is passable. after that, however, it is a travesty of my beloved lubitsch creation. it's like he was trying to do 'springtime for hitler' all over again, and it does not work. i do not know how many times i have said this (worrying i blogged this a couple of years ago and am repeating myself). mel has made lots of lovely films. this is not one of them. listen to dick cavett. and listen to me!

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