The nervy, controversial "To Be or Not to Be" is a 1942 comedy about Nazis that came out in the middle of World War II, when no one was in a mood to laugh at the enemy. It costars Jack Benny and Carole Lombard (in her last released film) as a pair of Polish Shakespearean actors who have to impersonate Nazis to save lives.
These films are not trendy; they are not of-the-moment. But they have endured — and will continue to — whether LACMA deigns to show them or not. It may well be that Mitchell — smart, articulate and knowledgeable — will continue to program in the classic repertory manner with whatever time and money is left over from his announced aim of broadening LACMA's offerings to include all aspects of filmed entertainment, including television and video games. If he does so, the variety and quality of films in "Celebrating Classic Cinema" have established a standard by which future efforts can be judged. If he doesn't, we will all be the poorer for it.