To Be or Not to Be opens in 1939 on the eve of war, with a Warsaw theater troupe rehearsing a satire called Gestapo, which has been ordered shut down by the government, for fear of offending Hitler. The troupe's stars are Maria and Joseph Tura - a self-absorbed flirt and a preening ham who wouldn't know acting if it smacked him in the face - who couldn't be less interested in the outside world, until it comes crashing in. Maria (Carole Lombard, all smoky elegance) is carrying on an affair with handsome pilot Stanislav Sobinski (Robert Stack, shockingly fresh-faced and clear-voiced), while Joseph (a nimbly verbal Jack Benny) seems almost more perturbed by the fact that Sobinski walks out on his Hamlet soliloquy every night than the fact that he's doing so to meet backstage with Maria.
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Crawford plays Louise, who is introduced to us as she dazedly walks into a diner, asking for a man named David. After she collapses, she's hauled off to the mental hospital, where the doctors shake their heads and shrug. Flashbacks reveal why Louise is in such a state: She's kinda nuts, and the last thread snapped after she killed the mysterious David (Van Heflin).
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