To Be or Not To Be & ERNST LUBITSCH’S INFLUENCE
Ernst Lubitsch would push the envelope of good taste to the breaking point and beyond, influencing generations of filmmakers from the silent era to the color era. Culminating with one of his greatest achievements in 1942, Lubitsch released the highly controversial satire, To Be Or Not To Be, in the process, showing off the acting ability of Jack Benny and Carole Lombard to the best advantage that either of them ever had. Set in Warsaw, Poland during the German invasion of 1939, this comedy-drama mixed enthusiastic Nazis, overacting actors, and heartfelt pilots into an astute contemporary satire.
The son of a prosperous tailor in Berlin, Ernst Lubitsch was drawn to the stage at a young age. To…show more content… A few years later, in 1923, it would also be the place where then 17 year old, Otto Preminger would apprentice under Max Reinhardt. Preminger would go on to take over A Royal Scandal (1945) when Lubitsch became ill, as well as in 1947 when Lubitsch died filming That Lady in Ermine. In 1914, Victor Arnold commits suicide and Lubitsch’s mother dies. His father dies in 1924. Ernst has a hard time coping with such heavy losses. Paul Davidson is Lubitsch’s first employer, Davidson was changing German cinema by building the first picture palace. This is where Lubitsch got his acting and directing chops and where there become parallels between Lubitsch and Charles Chaplin, at the height of his fame as the Tramp, decided to make a film in which he appeared only in a brief cameo. A Woman of Paris (1923) was praised for its subtlety and sophistication and had an enormous impact on Lubitsch. Lubitsch was not as realized as Chaplin was, he didn’t know himself fully and liked to ham it up and flirt with the audience. However his series of achievements during the silent period -- Forbidden Paradise, Kiss Me Again, Lady Windermere's Fan, The Student Prince, etc. -- remained uninterrupted even during the transition to sound says Geoffrey O’Brien. If anything, witty dialogue and appropriate music and songs gave additional grip to the Lubitsch Touch. The Love Parade, Monte Carlo, and The Smiling Lieutenant were hailed by critics as masterpieces of the newly emerging musical genre. Nowhere did this realness become more apparent than in To Be or Not to Be, where for once he dared to pit the inhabitants of his world, living on wishful reverie and theatrical sleight of hand, against forces of real destruction. Jack Benny against the Nazis? A farce set in occupied Warsaw? Jokes about concentration camps? The Gestapo itself foiled by an elegant web of