A few years ago, I decided to invest in a copy of the 1942 Ernst Lubitsch film “To Be or Not to Be” starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard. The brilliantly quirky little black comedy, set in Nazi-occupied Warsaw in the run up to WWII, had long been a favorite of mine, and I’d gotten it into my head that I’d like to share it with Clementine, who was, by that point in time, starting to show signs of Billy Wilder fatigue. (As we’ve discussed previously, I’m trying, as best that I can, to raise my daughter on a severely restricted pop-culture diet which eschews anything even remotely modern.) Unfortunately, Clementine’s “To Be or Not to Be” indoctrination was cut short by her mother, who felt as though six was still a bit too young for “the Nazi talk,” but I’ve spent several late nights with it, and my love for the film has only grown. In fact, my appreciation has grown so much that, a few months ago, when I read that the Criterion Collection was going to be releasing a refurbished print with all kinds of bonus material, I decided to do the fiscally irresponsible thing, and order a copy. So, as a result, I now have two copies of “To Be or Not to Be” on DVD… Which brings me to the purpose of tonight’s post.
I want to give away my old copy. And I’m looking for a good home.
I know it’s unlikely that I’ve got a bunch of Jack Benny fans in the audience, given the fact that he’s been dead for almost 40 years now, but I’m hoping that I can get at least one of you to express an interest…
So, if you’d like to own one of the best comedies ever made, just leave a comment and let me know.
Or, on second thought, don’t just leave a comment telling me that you want it. I don’t know how likely it is, but, on the off chance that more than one of you expresses interest, you’d better take a minute and let me know why I should choose your home. Are you, for instance, a homeschooler presently contemplating a semester-long course on the films of Ernst Lubitsch? Or, do you have a dying uncle who could use one more good laugh before shuffling off into the great unknown? Or, do you just really want to see it. Assuming there’s not competition, that might be enough. Just do me a favor and say something nicer than, “Give it to me,” if you want it. How about something like, “If I win the movie, I’ll go out and pick up trash for half an hour”? Or, “If I win the movie, I’ll pay it forward by giving away an extra copy of Sullivan’s Travels that I happen to have laying around”? …I’d much rather do it this way than put it up on Ebay.
And, if no one wants it, I’ll just go down this weekend and put it in the little library on Water Street.
Here, for those of you who have never seen the film before, is how it begins.