With all the money I pay out per month for cable TV, DVR, and Netflix, I find myself watching the same movies over and over. Once again this week I watched one of my favorite movies from the Sixties and one of the most underrated comedies of all-time, Billy Wilder’s One, Two, Three (1961) where Cold War politics are played for big laughs. The brilliant James Cagney is Coca-Cola’s man in West Berlin trying to bring the soft drink to the East Germans and Outer Mongolians. His life is turned upside down when the boss’s nitwit impetious daughter Scarlett Hazeltine (amusingly played by Pamela Tiffin who has the Golden Globe nomination for “Best Supporting Actress” to prove it) visits from Atlanta for a short stay and winds up married to hot-headed Communist card-carrying East German Horst Buchholz who was one handsome guy.
Cagney is a marvel to watch as he barks out orders to his staff (“Schlemmer!!!”) as he first tries to undo the marriage and then undo the annullment after they learn Scarlett is pregnant. The supporting cast impress me more and more on each repeated viewing: curvy blonde-bombshell Lilo Pulver as Cagney’s secretary Ingeborg who takes more than dictation and really can fill out a polka-dotted dress; Hanns Lothar as Schlemmer his heel-clicking obedient right-hand man; and Leon Askin as Peripetchikoff a fat Russian diplomat smitten with Ingeborg the “pretty blonde woman.” Arlene Francis too is wonderful and is a great match for Cagney as his droll fed up wife who longs for the good old U.S. of A.
Billy Wilder directed and co-wrote one of the most fast-paced comedies in all of movie history and delivers the laughs at rapid pace. The action never lets up and his excellent use of “The Sabre Dance” is classic. A must see!!!