Repertory Picks

Lubitsch Takes on the Enemy in Portland

On Film / In Theaters — Jun 22, 2017

This coming Saturday and Monday, Portland’s NW Film Center will screen Ernst Lubitsch’s 1942 screwball masterpiece To Be or Not to Be in 35 mm. Released during the height of World War II, this zinger-filled satire stars Carole Lombard and Jack Benny, in career-best performances, as married actors who become embroiled in a spy plot in occupied Warsaw. Hilarity and anxiety intertwine as Lubitsch trains his lethal wit on the Nazis, juggling memorable one-liners, complex set pieces, and elements of romance, intrigue, and political commentary with his trademark elegance. In engaging with the real-life horrors of a totalitarian regime, this master of frothy comedies brought an unexpected urgency to his work, resulting in what critic Geoffrey O’Brien describes in his liner notes for our edition as “close to being the funniest film ever made.” If you need more reasons to catch this must-see classic, we’ve highlighted a few more in the video below: