Cold War Hi-jinx.
Billy Wilder (Stalag 17, Irma La Douce, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, The Apartment, Witness For The Prosecution) gets hands on, with this 1961 release by writing, producing and directing this stage for James Cagney (Angels with Dirty Faces, The Roaring Twenties, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Shake Hands with the Devil). Adapted from the play Egy, kettő, három by Ferenc Molnár (“A Pál utcai fiúk”), it shows Cagney at his fast paced, wise cracking comedy timing best. All due to Willder‘s and I.A.L. Diamond‘s (Some Like It Hot, Kiss Me, Stupid) writing skills. Once again Masters of Cinema have brought a slice of cinematic history into the 21st Century. [This is the ultimate product placement film]
“On Sunday, August 13th, 1961, the eyes of America were on the nation’s capital, where Roger Maris was hitting home runs #44 and 45 against the Senators. On that same day, without any warning, the East German Communists sealed off the border between East and West Berlin. I only mention this to show the kind of people we’re dealing with – REAL SHIFTY”
C.R. “Mac” MacNamara (Cagney) is a high-ranking executive in the Coca-Cola Company, assigned to West Berlin, a place he doesn’t want to be. He was happy in the Middle East until he had a run in (or not) with Benny Goodman (A Song Is Born) which ended in disaster and hence the position in West Berlin not London. He nearly lives with his wife Phyllis (Arlene Francis, All My Sons, The Thrill of It All), and young son and daughter Tommy and Cindy.
Mac would rather spend private time with his secretary, the effervescent Fräulein Ingeborg (Liselotte Pulver, Bread and Stones, Lafayette). Mac does his best to get Coca-Cola to be the top drink in the Capitalist West Berlin, but he has his sights set to the East and bring Coca-Cola to the Communist masses.
“Here, take one of these.”
“Thanks. Hm, ‘Made in Havana’.”
“We have trade agreement with Cuba. They send us cigars, we send them rockets.”
To do this he must deal with three Russian officials Peripetchikoff (Leon Askin, Hogan’s Heroes, Airplane II: The Sequel), Borodenko (Ralf Wolter, Winnetou: The Last Shot) and Fritz (Karl Lieffen, Rudy, the Racing Pig). Mac has trouble dealing with the Communists, but when Mac spots that they have designs on the Fräulein he can see his way through the Brandenburg Gate and further into the East.
“You know something? You guys got cheated. This is a pretty crummy cigar.”
“Do not worry. We send them pretty crummy rockets.”
The proverbial hits the fan when his boss, W.P. Hazeltine (Howard St. John, Born Yesterday) at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta, phones telling Mac that his wayward seventeen year old daughter Scarlett (Pamela Tiffin, Come Fly with Me, Imperfect Murder) is headed to Berlin for two weeks and he is to look after her. Well that scuppers his plans with the Fräulein and his wife’s plans to head back to the States with the children.
“I’ll pick you up at 6:30 sharp, because the 7:00 train for Moscow leaves promptly at 8:15.”
That’s as much can be told but with a great performance by Horst Buchholz (The Magnificent Seven, Life Is Beautiful, Confessions of Felix Krull) as Otto Ludwig Piffl.
“Is everybody in this world corrupt?”
“I don’t know everybody.”
One, Two, Three is a great way to spend time laughing with the family as Hollywood takes a poke at the Communists at a time when tensions were high.
BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- Limited Edition O Card slipcase [2000 copies ONLY]
- 1080p presentation on Blu-ray
- LPCM audio (original mono presentation)
- Optional English SDH subtitles
- Brand New and Exclusive Interview with film scholar Neil Sinyard
- Feature Length Audio Commentary by Film Historian Michael Schlesinger
- PLUS: A Collector’s booklet featuring new essays by film scholar Henry K. Miller, critic Adam Batty, and archival material