The famed “Lubitsch touch” was perhaps never deployed to such urgently political ends as in To Be or Not to Be, a satirical take on collective artmaking under Fascism in which the German-born auteur draws a darkly humorous connection between the workaday labor of stage performers and the life-and-death stakes of wartime subterfuge. Released just three years after the Nazi invasion of Poland and set amid the fraught social and cultural climate of the German occupation, the film’s intricately plotted comedy of manners concerns Joseph and Maria Tura (Jack Benny and Carole Lombard), the married stars of a celebrated Warsaw theater company mounting a production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet on the eve of the invasion. When Maria’s admirer, a lovesick Polish lieutenant with connections to the resistance, unwittingly puts her in harm’s way, Joseph and Maria are drawn into a web of sexual entanglements worthy of the bard himself, building to a virtuosic series of impersonations that hinge on the chameleonic acting prowess of the Turas and their fellow troupe members. 35mm print preserved by the Library of Congress.