November 2nd, 2019

carole lombard 06
  • vp19

Lombard and Lubitsch meet Bancroft and Brooks

While people complain about movie remakes, they're nothing new -- even several Carole Lombard films have underwent the process, including the pointless 1957 "My Man Godfrey." (David Niven, the new Godfrey, had a supporting role in a 1938 "Lux Radio Theater" adaptation of the original.)

Another remake of a Lombard classic came in the '80s, when Mel Brooks -- no stranger to lampooning Nazis, as his various versions of "The Producers" attest -- tried his hand at Ernst Lubitsch's dark comedy "To Be Or Not To Be." (My Facebook friend Elaine Ballace has worked on Brooks films and adores him.)

Made more than four decades after the original, with Brooks himself and real-life wife Anne Bancroft in the leads, it necessarily lacks the contemporary Lubitsch gravitas, but is fine on its own merits. In fact, Charles Durning gained an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor.

That version came out in 1983, but apparently didn't reach Hungary -- then in the latter days of the Soviet bloc -- until 1985. A magazine discussed both the original and remake with a cover story:

("Lenni vagy nem lenni" literally translates into "To be or not to be.")

Inside, a two-page spread on Brooks' version, including an extensive interview with him (in Hungarian; though Lombard's name isn't mentioned, I would like to see this translated):

This 48-page magazine is up for auction at eBay. Bidding begins at $3, and the auction ends at 6:42 p.m. (Eastern) Friday. If you'd like to bid, visit
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