Skip’s Quips: Give ‘To Be or Not to Be’ a Medal

Blog Sketch 082813I love Ernst Lubitsch’s To Be or Not to Be.

Brilliant script. Terrific performances by Jack Benny, Carole Lombard, Sig Ruman and the rest of the brilliant cast. And of course perfect, sly direction by the immortal Lubitsch.

Sure it’s in questionable taste – what with a story concerning a company of Polish actors and their wartime efforts to foil a Nazi plan – and even now some of the material seems iffy. But it remains razor-sharp, as well as still topical to this day. I watched this film again last night for what may have been the 45th time, and it’s still fresh. That’s the mark of a great movie. It just doesn’t get old.

I’ve seen the remake with Mel Brooks, too, and it’s just not the same. The Lubitsch version is tops; there’s no comparison. I’m giving the medal to that one for quality.

Skip’s Quips: Laughing With Garbo in ‘Ninotchka’

Blog Sketch 082813No, I hadn’t seen Ninotchka until last night, though all this time, I knew I’d like it. Why it took so long for me to view it is anyone’s guess, though.

Great flick, and the famed Lubitsch touch is everywhere, from the opening to the ending. There was also a good measure of bad taste thrown in, which I was thinking about after I saw it. Who else but Lubitsch would make a film satirizing the economic problems Soviet Russia was going through? This was the same director who crafted To Be or Not to Be, after all … which was similarly delicious, despite its controversial subject matter.

Anyway, I thought Greta Garbo was terrific, as was Melvyn Douglas, and I loved seeing the great Sig Ruman in yet another silly role. Ah, he was so good at those.

What an enjoyable movie.