From the opening moment when Brooks and Bancroft belt out an impassioned and apparently faultless version of 'Sweet Georgia Brown' in Polish, it's clear that this is going to be nothing if not slick. In the event, Johnson has thankfully refrained from monkeying about with either the plot or the tone of the original, and opted for a reverent but nevertheless sprightly remake. For Lubitsch's film is, after all, one of the most perfectly structured and audacious of screen comedies as a troupe of Polish actors try to outwit the occuping Nazi forces in World War II Warsaw; the wit is constantly underlaced with danger, the absurd expedients prompted by mounting desperation. Johnson may not quite have Lubitsch's lightness of touch, but he puts an excellent cast through their paces with great verve, and the charm is as potent as ever. The only weak link is Durning as the Nazi commander, who hams it up rotten and thus dampens down the essential menace, without which the film is in danger of basking in the glow of its own good nature.
To Be or Not To Be
Cast and crew
|Screenwriter:||Thomas Meehan, Ronny Graham|