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James Cagney , Horst Buchholz , Billy Wilder    NR (Not Rated)   DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 55.26
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Product Description


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

Product Description

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)!

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Full of Stereotypes and Spoofs of Stereotypes May 8 2004
This movie is built on the crass stereotyping of national, regional, and personal characteristics: all Germans are heal-clicking former Nazis; Communists on the surface are dedicated ideologists but really crave a life of Western decadence; American southerners (men) are right-wing imbeciles navigating the complexities of life on a few cherished prejudices; young American (southern) women are insatiable nymphomaniacs (is that redundant?); and James Cagney is a one-dimensional actor. Such an underpinning for a movie would not seem, at first glance, to offer much promise. But the one-dimensional acting style of Cagney, which ruined Love Me or Leave Me (the movie with Doris Day based on the life of Ruth Etting), is perfect for this manic-paced farce. For nearly the entire movie, Cagney unleashes a barrage of breathless monologues, simultaneously exhausting and amazing the viewer.
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Captures the age & entertains Aug. 1 2003
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. We were over there, and we knew that this film accurately depicted the times in spite of being a satiric farce. The dialogue is extemely witty, and the pacing is breath-taking. I don't buy a lot of movies, but this was at the top of my list of all-time favorite films.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Cagney as he was meant to be... July 27 2003
By A Customer
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. In real life cagney was a fun loving jovial man not the "gangster" of his movie fame. This film allows us to see Cagney as Cagney... a serious...but funny man. As he was in real life he is in this film, quick witted, in command, and hilarious. the film is a constant barrage to the mind ( do to the genious of Billy Wilder ). As many Cagney fans know this was his 2nd. to last film and did not do anouther film for 20 years. Mid way through filming a scene that was a rapid fire monologue that took all day to shoot Cagey confided to Wilder that he new it was time to "hang it up". An exhausted Cagney was to have said that when it takes all day to shoot a scene the end is hear. to all that read this review if you want to laugh and be entertained by one of the greats this is the film.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT Comedy, simple DVD July 18 2003
Finally, Billy Wilder's breathless masterpiece is available on DVD. Though there are virtually no extras on this DVD, it offers a terrific 2.35:1 Letterbox (and a standard format on the flipside). I've seen this at least 50 times, watching it now, and I'm still overwhelmed at the amazing screenplay and Cagney's performance, a tour de force that left him so exhausted he didn't make another film or 20 years. There are few performances captured on film that are as totally rewarding. I'd reviewed the VHS twice, but it bears repeating that Lilo Pulver and Hanns Lothar were most supportive toward Cagney's brilliance. Arlene Francis' wisecracks are perfect, Daniel L. Fapp's Oscar-nominated cinematography still shines in this Panavision transfer, and you'll be hard-pressed to get Andre Previn's arrangement of the Khachaturian Sabre Dance out of your head when it's all over. This is, quite simply, an overwhelming, enjoyable comedy film!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece June 22 2003
By A Customer
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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars AT LAST! May 7 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 white movie until my wife and I introduced them to this comedic masterpiece (13 years ago). They laughed hysterically then and they still do. The term "rapid-fire" was invented to describe Cagney's delivery during the last act. Our copy that we taped from The Movie Channel is just about worn out. This gem is coming out at just the right time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious Comedy Classic - On DVD at last! March 31 2003
Berlin 1961; weeks before "The Wall" was built. The contrast between East & West was never portrayed in a more black/white comparison. James Cagney is the ultimate "Capitalist"; Horst Buchholz the 110% "Communist". Add a beautiful 17-year old Southern Belle Executive's Daughter, Cagney's super sexy "bilingual" blond secretary, and an international cast of comedic actors, along with several "international incidents", and you have one of the best comedies Hollywood has ever produced! This movie is in my personal all-time top 10!
Most of the brilliantly talented people involved with this fantastic film are no longer with us. With DVD technology, generations still unknown will be able to enjoy this pure cinema candy!*****
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Setzenmachen!
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 more
Published on March 8 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars A Billy Wilder Classic with Jimmy Cagney
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 more
Published on Aug. 26 2002 by G. Ware Cornell Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Schlemmer !!!
Absolutely hilarious! If you've always wanted to see James Cagney in a comedy role, you must buy this! All the supporting actors/actresses are great, as well. Read more
Published on June 6 2002 by Steve Wenzel
5.0 out of 5 stars Cagney at his best in Berlin before the wall
An ambitious American Coca-Cola executive in Berlin is a promising plot line which James Cagney and an excellent cast turn into a great comedy film. Read more
Published on Jan. 24 2002 by Paul Sayles
5.0 out of 5 stars Another unremembered classic
People who know Jimmy Cagney only as a wise cracking ganster or Horst Buchholz as Chico in the MAGNIFICANT SEVEN or Arline Frances from TO TELL THE TRUTH will be absolutly... Read more
Published on Nov. 8 2001 by Peter Ingemi
5.0 out of 5 stars Moves Like Lightning with a Razor Wit
James Cagney gives one of his finest performances in a movie full of them. The pace is breakneck and you'll miss a lot of Cold War sight gags and one-liners if you don't keep up. Read more
Published on Aug. 13 2001 by Mr. Tasteful
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