To Be or Not to Be (1983)
|Year Of Production||1983|
|RSDL / Flipper||RSDL (56:58)||Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||2,4||Directed By||Alan Johnson|
Twentieth Century Fox
John Morris (II)
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.85:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||Unknown||Miscellaneous|
|Annoying Product Placement||No|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
††† To Be Or Not To Be is a Mel Brooks re-make of a 1942 Jack Benny and Carole Lombard film. Being more than a bit of a Mel Brooks fan, I was very much looking forward to seeing this movie again, and was not disappointed. This is one of Mel Brooks' better comedy offerings. It has numerous laugh-out-loud moments highlighted by a couple of very entertaining musical numbers, particularly the Naughty Nazis sketch. To Be Or Not To Be is not as over-the-top or corny as Spaceballs or High Anxiety. It has a tighter storyline after the style of his best work such as Young Frankenstein and The Producers.
††† To Be Or Not To Be follows the adventures of a group of theatre actors in German-occupied Poland during World War II. The World Famous star of the Polish theatre, Frederick Bronski (Mel Brooks) and his wife Anne Bronski (Anne Bancroft) lurch from one crisis to the next. Mr and Mrs Bronski become clandestine undercover agents for the resistance. They must assist Lieutenant Andre Sobinski (Tim Matheson) to retrieve a list of resistance members and their families. The list must be obtained from a Polish traitor, Professor Siletski (Josť Ferrer), before he turns it over to Colonel (Concentration Camp) Erhardt (Charles Durning) of the Gestapo.
††† Things are not as straightforward as they seem. The simple retrieval of the list gets very complicated and decidedly funny.
††† The performances from the whole cast are excellent. I found the frustrated Capt. Schultz (Christopher Lloyd) very entertaining, as he gets out of all manner of difficult situations by "Heiling Hitler".
††† The video transfer was better than I expected for a movie of this era, although not of reference standard.
††† The transfer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, and is 16x9 enhanced.
††† The sharpness of the transfer is only adequate as there is slight grain present throughout the movie. This was not distracting, but a clearer picture would have improved the perceivable shadow detail, which was only passable. The grain made it difficult to judge low level noise but did add a nostalgic, war documentary-like feel to the transfer. At times, the picture was a little soft, as if extra filters had been used during filming. This was only evident in scenes with close-ups of Anne Bancroft.
††† Colours were vibrant and bright without being oversaturated and distracting. They were clear and constant with no irregularities.
††† There were no noticeable MPEG or film-to-video artefacts. However, as is common in movies of this age, there were numerous small film artefacts which did not detract from the viewing experience.
††† This disc is RSDL-formatted. The layer change takes place at a scene change at 56:58 and is practically invisible.
††† The audio transfer is more than acceptable, though like the video transfer is not of reference quality.
††† There are five audio tracks on this DVD: English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. All tracks are Dolby Digital 2.0 channel formatted and encoded at 192 kbps. The default track is the stereo English offering.
††† The dialogue was clear and easily understood at all times. Initially the dialogue is in Polish, but a hidden narrator quickly states that "in the interests of clarity and sanity the rest of the movie will not be in Polish", at which point the two stars heave a great sigh of relief. There are no audio sync issues with this DVD.
††† The musical score was written by John Morris and the musical numbers were written by Mel Brooks and Ronny Graham. The songs and score suit the movie perfectly, adding to both the comedic appeal and war-time atmosphere respectively.
††† There is no use made of the surround channels or the subwoofer by the 2.0 audio track.
|Surround Channel Use|
††† Extras are few and far between.
††† The menu is static and silent.
††† The theatrical trailer is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced, although it is not of good quality.
††† As far as we can tell, this DVD has not yet been released in Region 1.
††† To Be Or Not To Be is at times very funny and overall is an entertaining movie. For those of you who are Mel Brooks fans, this DVD will be a must as it is one of his classics. The movie has been given an acceptable transfer to DVD, though more extras would have been appreciated.
|DVD||Sony DVP-S525, using S-Video output|
|Display||Bang & Olufsen BeoVision Avante 82cm 16:9 Widescreen. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Denon AVR-1803. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.|
|Amplification||Denon AVR 1803|
|Speakers||Paradigm: Phantom Version 3 Front, Jensen SPX-13 Centre, Jensen SPX-5 Rear, Jensen SPX-17 Sub|