One, Two, Three (Bilingual) [Import]
James Cagney gives one of the richest, funniest, most breathlessly paced performances of his career (The New York Times) in this Billy Wilder comedy that defrosts the Cold War with gales of laughter! C. R. MacNamara (Cagney), a top-ranking executive stationed in West Berlin, is charged with the care of his boss visiting daughter. But when he learns that she's gone and married a fierce young communistand that his boss will be arriving in town in 24 hoursMac must transform the unwilling beatnik into a suitable son-in-law or risk losing his chance for advancement! Before you cansay one, two, three, his plans have spun out of control and into an international incident that could infuriate the Russians, the Germans and, worst of all, his own suspicious wife (Arlene Francis)!
Hardly ever mentioned in the category of lightning-paced comedies--the His Girl Friday and Preston Sturges kind--is this breathless cold war farce from the great Billy Wilder. Adapted from a one-act play by Ferenc Molnár, Wilder and collaborator I.A.L. Diamond's hilarious screenplay is a whirlwind collection of one-liners, gags, and double-entendres, anchored for the cameras by Jimmy Cagney's cagey and frenetic performance (one of his best), and, under Wilder's direction, executed with diamond-like precision. The gangster-movie icon plays a Coca-Cola executive in West Berlin (the film's 1961 release put it squarely in the middle of the world's laserlike focus on East vs. West tensions) who has parlayed expanding American consumerism into a chance to break through the Iron Curtain and sell "the pause that refreshes" to thirsty comrades. But when his Atlanta boss's visiting 17-year-old daughter (Pamela Tiffin), a boy-crazy Southern tornado, reveals that she has secretly married an American-hating German Commie (Horst Buchholz), Cagney's big-American-fish-in-a-European-pond lifestyle is threatened, especially once Daddy hops a plane to Germany. As the plot accelerates, the lines literally spit out of the cast's mouths--the title refers to Cagney's character's rapid-fire rattling off of lists of tasks--and Wilder's penchant for urbane nastiness is perfectly measured by the order of the whole crazy circus. This movie takes gleeful potshots at both sides of a conflict that terrified audiences in its day, but has aged beautifully to become a fascinating time capsule, an exhilarating litany of zingers and a potent blueprint for razor-sharp political satire. Cagney would retire after this movie for 20 years (returning for 1981's Ragtime), and it's hardly any wonder: he has the energy of 10 performances in this one film. --Robert Abele --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
That the movie is a farce does not mean it lacks a serious side. The stereotypes are so rigid, and played so extravagantly, that it is hard to escape the conclusion that the movie is designed to outrage those insulted (especially southerners) and mock anyone who agrees with the stereotypes. Cagney himself is mocked by an MP who does a Cagney imitation in response to one of Cagney's imperious orders. On another level, the movie can be seen as a critique of censorship. In the Soviet Union, all film had to toe the Communist ideological line. If the same standard were applied to US movies by US censors, the result might well be something like One, Two, Three. And indeed, to ideological purists the world is as simple as one, two, three.
Tasked with keeping an eye on his bosses daughter, who is mostly occupied with chasing boys, becomes Cagney's all consuming passion and concern. His total inability to carry out this task is what makes this movie so amusing. He can control Coca-Cola operations in Europe, but not a teenaged girl. Cagney's East German/Soviet Bloc opponents read like the "usual suspects" in send up movies, but they all work well in thier quest for the secret formula that makes Coke so successful. Cagney's cataloging of their failed attempts is side-spliotting. The double talk and double dealing is non-stop and excellently done and just adds to the fun of the film.
This is a film that is little known but it shouldn't be. Made at the end of Cagney's career, it highlights just how versatile he was as an actor and what a great comedic actor he was. Anyone with an interest in Cagney would enjoy this film and view it more than once.
This is also a chance to see Berlin before it was altered and changed by the erection of the Berlin Wall which was erected not too long after this film was made. It is Berlin as it once was and might be again.
It's a period piece, taking place in 1961 before the "Berlin Wall' went up that separated the East and West sectors. Much of the humor is at the expense of Germans and Russians; evident by MacNamara's German national heel-clicking staff that appears to be full of ex-Nazis that escaped trial, and several Russian trade commissars he deals with who are hard-core pupils of Premier Khrushchev. Although this picture lacks political correctness, its humor is wickedly funny and a guilty pleasure for those who appreciate the Cold War.
At the core of the crisis is Scarlett, the dim-witted daughter of MacNamara's boss, who secretly marries Piffl. Upon discovery, MacNamara attempts to de-rail the marriage by framing Piffl before the East German police as a perceived capitalist. The situation heats up when MacNamara then finds out that Scarlett is pregnant, and that her parents are flying into Berlin within the next couple of days. MacNamara, being the devious and ambitious person that he is, unfolds a scam to put the situation in order.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I saw this movie years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. When I tried to play this DVD, it displayed a message that said it was not approved for my area/district/etc ! Hello!!! Read morePublished 5 months ago by Carl Snider
I first saw this movie in a US Army theater in Germany in 1961. It was the first time I'd seen a movie audience applaud at the end of a movie...and for good reason. Read morePublished on Aug. 1 2003 by Robert G. Leroe
Simply put this may be Cagney's truest and therefore best movie.
As many fans know Cagney never really wanted to be an actor. for Cagney acting was an end to a means. Read more
Finally, Billy Wilder's breathless masterpiece is available on DVD. Though there are virtually no extras on this DVD, it offers a terrific 2. Read morePublished on July 17 2003 by R. Gawlitta
This Movie is a masterpiece in Movie History. And it shows Berlin as it was back in the late 50's and early 60's.Published on June 22 2003
I have been waiting for this movie to be published on DVD since DVD was born. Suffice to say: my two daughters, who were 5 and 8 at the time, never wanted to watch a black and... Read morePublished on May 7 2003 by Amazon Customer
Berlin 1961; weeks before "The Wall" was built. The contrast between East & West was never portrayed in a more black/white comparison. Read morePublished on March 31 2003 by Michael Mathena
I second every great thing said about this film. A true tour-de-force of comedic writing, acting and direction. It's quite underrated. Read morePublished on March 8 2003
This Cold War comedy is surprisingly fresh after forty years. Jimmy Cagney is a Coca Cola executive assigned to West Berlin after a slip on the steps of the corporate ladder sent... Read morePublished on Aug. 26 2002 by G. Ware Cornell Jr.
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