TO BE OR NOT TO BE
1942, Westchester Films, 99 min, USA, Dir: Ernst Lubitsch

The threat posed by Nazi Germany was very real when director Ernst Lubitsch took aim at the Third Reich in this now-classic comedy. Jack Benny and Carole Lombard (in her final role) are married actors in Warsaw when Hitler’s troops invade; they and the rest of their company must give the performances of their lives to save pilot Robert Stack and the Polish resistance from Nazi spies. No less a comedic great than Mel Brooks put his stamp of approval on the film, remaking it in 1983.


HOLLYWOOD CANTEEN
1944, Warner Bros., 124 min, USA, Dir: Delmer Daves

Some of Warners’ biggest stars turn out to do their part for the war effort in this delightful romantic comedy inspired by the nightspot created to entertain servicemen during WWII. Robert Hutton plays a GI on leave in L.A. for a week with a fellow soldier; when he becomes the club’s millionth customer, he wins a date with the actress of his dreams, Joan Leslie. The Andrews Sisters, Jimmy Dorsey and His Orchestra and Roy Rogers (with Trigger in tow) are among the musical performers, Jack Benny, Joe E. Brown and Eddie Cantor supply comic relief, and an army of movie greats like Bette Davis and John Garfield (who together founded the real-life Hollywood Canteen) play themselves. They really don’t make ‘em like this anymore!


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