One, Two, Three
James Cagney stars as a high-ranking Coca-Cola executive in West Berlin assigned to take care of his boss’ flighty 17-year-old daughter in Billy Wilder’s uproarious Cold War satire on American cultural imperialism.
Perhaps only expat Billy Wilder could pull off a spoof of Cold War conflict set in a divided postwar Berlin. His trick was to apply the rat-a-tat, mile-a-minute dialogue of screwball comedy, and he admitted later he set out to make "the fastest picture in the world." James Cagney plays the ultimate capitalist, a Coca-Cola exec scheming to open the Soviet market and thereby nab a higher post in London. His boss from Atlanta ("Siberia with mint juleps") asks him to keep an eye on his Europe-touring spitfire daughter (Pamela Tiffin), who falls for a hot-blooded beatnik Communist (Horst Buchholz). Uh-oh, Boss is flying in tomorrow! Cagney has to find the Communist and convert him in one morning, otherwise no London—which he does in a hurtling, hypercaffeinated final act, despite the disapproval of Arlene Francis, delish as his elegantly wisecracking wife. In sheer word count, Cagney's has to be one of the longest roles in screen history, and in fact the actor was so exhausted by filming that he didn't make another movie for 20 years. The whole thing is kind of a Dr. Strangelove with consumerism rather than military paranoia as its satirical target—considerably less dark, of course, though Wilder doesn't avert his camera from WWII devastation; practically every outdoor shot features bombed-out ruins somewhere in the background.
Born Samuel Wilder in Sucho of the then Austro-Hungarian Empire, he was nicknamed Billy by his Buffalo Bill-fancying mother. Wilder was one of many European film industry workers who fled Nazism to America, with no money and little to no English skills. His quick grasp of the English language coupled with a sharp-witted sardonic style, shown in-person and on-paper with classics such as the noir genre-defining Double Idemtity (1944) and the triple-Oscar®-achieving romantic comedy The Apartment (1960), makes him a Hollywood icon.
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- Director: Billy Wilder
- Principal Cast: James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin, Arlene Francis, Howard St. John
- Country: USA
- Year: 1961
- Running Time: 110 minutes
- Producer: Billy Wilder
- Screenplay: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond
- Cinematographers: Daniel L. Fapp
- Editors: Daniel Mandell
- Music: Andre Previn
- Website: Official Film Website
- Awards: National Board of Review 1961 (NBR Award), Academy Awards 1962 (Nomination for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White)
- Filmography: Buddy Buddy (1981); Fedora (1978); The Front Page (1974); Avanti! (1972); The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (1970); The Fortune Cookie (1966); Kiss Me Stupid (1964); Irma la Douce (1963); One, Two, Three (1961); The Apartment (1960); Some Like It Hot (1959); Witness for the Prosecution (1957); The Spirit of St. Louis (1957); The Seven Year Itch (1955); Sabrina (1954); Stalag 17 (1953); The Big Carnival (1951); Ace in the Hole (1951); Sunset Boulevard (1950); A Foreign Affair (1948); The Lost Weekend (1945); Double Indemnity (1944); Mauvaise graine (1934)
- Language: English, German, Russian
- Has Subtitles: Yes
- Format: DCP
- International Sales: Park Circus Limited