Aurora of @CitizenScreen of Once Upon a Screen.
(By the way, ladies, we love your description of you two smart and lovely ladies describing your fabulous Blogathon: “We’re girls gone Wilder!”)
Meet our protagonist, C.R. MacNamara, as played by James Cagney:
“On Sunday, August 1st, 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 the border between East and West Berlin. I only mention this to show the kind of people we’re dealing with: real shifty!”
|"A gift from my employees on the tenth|
anniversary of the Berlin Airlift."
In Cameron Crowe’s book Conversations with Wilder (Alfred A. Knopf),
it’s been said that Wilder and his co-writer I.A.L Diamond claimed that One, Two, Three wasn't so much funny as it was fast: “We did just did it, nine pages at a time, and he never fumbled.” Apparently another Cagney bio claims that wasn't completely true, but I say the nit-pickers need to lighten up! Our family fell in love with One, Two, Three and its hilarious pace breakneck pace!
The rollicking cast includes:
- James Cagney; Oscar-winner for Yankee Doodle Dandy, as well as great performances in White Heat; *Love Me or Leave Me*
- Howard St. John, who you may also remember from Mister 880, and his memorable dramatic turn as Captain Turley in Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train.
- Pamela Tiffin (Harper; The Pleasure Seekers)
- Horst Buchholz (The Magnificent Seven; Nine Hours to Rama)
- Arlene Francis, actress and TV personality (The Thrill of it All)
- Lilo Pulver (A Time to Love and a Time to Die; a Global Affair)
|C.R. MacNamara was tasked with getting "German business-|
men to have Coke with their knockwurst"
|Meet Scarlett Hazeltine (Pamela Tiffin), hot-blooded teenage world-traveler. If Scarlett was up for an award, she’d be a shoo-in for “Girl Most Likely to Give Mac’s Family High Blood Pressure!”|
|Poor Otto, he doesn't know that all his troubles are behind him.|
|Waterboarding, eat your heart out!|
True, some of the more topical gags may seem dated today, but with Wilder and his co-writer I.A. L. Diamond (based on a play by Ferenc Molnar) , the smart snappy cast, and the breakneck pace, there wasn't a single scene that didn't leave me laughing out loud! Can this howling hilarious satire save the day and the Free World? Would Billy Wilder let you down? Watch and laugh!
|“How would you like a little fruit for desert?” |
(Cagney kids his Public Enemy grapefruit gag while arguing with Buchholz and Pamela Tiffin.
As The Wife mentions, the topical jokes in this film may require some explanation, but much like the jokes in any Warner Brothers cartoon, once they're explained, a whole new level of irreverence stands revealed. The obvious physical gags like the Russian trade ministers all resembling various Russian leaders (including Leon Askin, best known to TV mavens as General Burkhalter from Hogan's Heroes) are easy to spot -- the minister taking his shoe off and banging it against the table to the rousing music and dancing of Lilo Pulver might miss a few heads as it sails over.
Otto: We will take over West Berlin. We will take over Western Europe.
We will bury you!
C.R. MacNamara: Do me a favor. Bury us, but don't marry us.
|Topical jokes like this are missed by modern audiences, but cut deep at the issues of the day.|
The climax of the film, as Mac and his cohorts must pull a Piffl pecuniary Pygmalion, is a masterpiece of comedic timing. The chiming of the Uncle Sam clock gets imperceptibly faster each time it goes off, subtly underlining the increasingly frenetic pace as merchants and tradesmen teem through the Coca-Cola offices to add some white and blue to the little Red. As legend has it, Cagney was having trouble with the machine-gun monologues as he rattles off orders to his underlings, so much so that he began to suspect he was, perhaps, not quite over the hill, but able to see the precipice without binoculars. He walked to a corner of the soundstage, gave himself a quiet pep-talk, came back and nailed the speech in one more take. The stress of the film caught up with him - this was his last film before his return in Ragtime.
|Hard to believe Lilo Pulver was usually cast as a tomboy, ain't it?|
It's a dead movie, and not just because most of it's players have passed on, but more to the point, as brilliant as the scripts and situations are, we are left with the feeling that, as our generation grows old, few if anyone will "get" the jokes.ReplyDelete
Shelleybear, this is why we must educate our young'uns for history, so we can teach them for both history and classic movies! :-DDelete
It's a great movie for people of all ages! I'm only 12 and I love it!Delete
Beyondpop, I LOVE hearing that you're only 12 and you love ONE, TWO, THREE! We need more smart movie lovers like you -- keep up the great work and keep on loving these classic movies! :-DDelete
Lilo Pulver was/is very well known in her native country and has more then a few non-tomboy roles.
If anything, she was a sex symbol in many comedies.
Shellybear, Vinnie and I were just talking about how Lilo Pulver had, as you say, " more then a few non-tomboy roles." Glad you both helped me brush up my Lilo Pulver know-how! :-DDelete
YouTube is, of course, happy to oblige.Delete
I've never even HEARD of this film, but I think I would enjoy it. How could you not, with lines like "Bury us, but don't marry us"? It sounds like a really interesting premise during a fascinating period of time.ReplyDelete
I loved your gif: "Waterboarding, eat your heart out"!
Ruth, my friend, I'm confident that you'll get a big kick out of ONE, TWO, THREE, for both learning about that era, and for the sheer hilarity of the nonstop comedy! Also, Vinnie deserves the kudos for his hilarious waterboarding GIF, for which we thank you! :-DDelete
For a movie that is of its time as much as it is, it's remarkable how funny it still is. I saw it on the big screen over a year ago (and this is a very wide movie) and everyone in the audience - me included - was in stitches.ReplyDelete
Rich, you lucky guy, how incredibly cool that you actually got to see the pleasure of seeing ONE, TWO, THREE in a big screen as the movie gods intended! Wish I had a time machine so I could see the audience, so to speak! I'm happy to hear they enjoyed ONE, TWO THREE in the theater as much as we enjoyed in at home! :-DDelete
Happiness is having a true "Home Theater ".Delete
Oh I love this film! I mean I LOOOOOOOVE this film.ReplyDelete
("God, I miss Communism". James Coburn: "Hudson Hawk".)
This might be considered blasphemous in some quarters, but I don't think Billy Wilder or I.A.L. Diamond came up with better writing in their respective careers. Of course it didn't hurt that the cast was made up of people who could actually Act (and Act Well). Even Pamela Tiffin (whose character, in the hands of a lesser director, would've been just a one-shot joke) gets some great lines ("And on warm nights we go up on the roof and watch the Sputniks fly over"). And the little brush strokes (Scarlett at one point shouting "Setzen machen!" to the office group . . . Red Buttons pulling off a brief Cagney impersonation) are gems in themselves.
But this is clearly Cagney's show from the word go. The scene where he's barking a seemingly endless chain of nonstop orders to his workers is one of my favorite comedy film bits. And his contempt for Horst Buchholz very probably added spice to the onscreen back and forth between their characters (sort of like the animosity between Joan Crawford and Mercedes McCambridge in JOHNNY GUITAR). What's impressive is that everyone else in the cast seems capable of being as equally funny as Cagney. Along with THE COURT JESTER, this is a comedy I would be hard pressed to find a flaw with.
("Was ist los in Little Rock" indeed!)
Michael, with your ready quick wit and your own knowledge of history, I knew you surely enjoyed ONE, TWO, THREE as much as we of Team B. did! I heartily agree that Wilder and the cast were truly on all cylinders! I'm with you, my longtime friend: like with THE COURT JESTER, we of Team B. wholeheartedly agree that ONE, TWO, THREE is flawless, hilarious entertainment! :-DDelete
I think it's one of Wlder's funniest films. The cast is uniformly fine, but if there's a standout, it's Pamela Tiffin. It's too bad she never got any other parts that allowed her to show her comedy chops.ReplyDelete
Rick, Vinnie and I I'm delighted that you got a kick out of ONE, TWO, THREE as much as we did! We also agree that Pamela Tiffin should have had more opportunities to let her flair for comedy sparkle as she did here; indeed, she and Horst Buchholz were a delightfuly daffy yet loving couple here! We're pleased that you enjoyed this little gem as much as we do! :-DDelete
So upset I've never seen this but your post gives a great sense of what the movie's like - breakneck and fun! Thanks so much for joining in the Wilder fun, Team B! Love the tag-team in this and cannot wait to see it. This is the third entry I'm adding to my cart in Amazon. Going broke with the fabulous write-ups.ReplyDelete
Aurora, once again I'm delighted you're interested in ONE, TWO, THREE, too! I think you're going to love it -- it's wild and wonderfully wacky, yet also sweet in it's nutzoid way. It's well worth spending a few bucks! We of Team B are happy you've let us play in your garden, and BRAVA to all you awesome gals and your awesome Billy Wilder Blogathon! :-DDelete
I think I've seen this Wilder - once, and several years ago. I seem to remember it being slightly cartoonish (that's not a negative) and it all felt slightly unreal - right down to the last scene where Cagney gets the Pepsi instead of the Coca-Cola.ReplyDelete
Girls Do Film, we're glad to see you appreciated Billy Wilder's zany cartoonish-ness in ONE, TWO, THREE; it's what we of Team Bartilucci love most about it! :-D It tickles us that the great cast does such a great job of turning these stars into such deft comedians and comediennes, and the Pepsi coda just nails it! Thanks for joining the Billy Wilder Blogathon fun with us!Delete
I adore James Cagney and Billy Wilder -- so why have I not seen this? You guys have done a particularly fun job reviewing this film, and I hope to get to see it before too long. I hate to admit I'm old enough, but I get all of the jokes you mention! I really love this team effort and it graces the blogathon. Great job, guys!ReplyDelete
Becky, I know those hilarious gags from ONE, TWO, THREE, too; you're a gal after Team B's own heart, but surely you knew that, my friend! :-0 It proves again what great taste you have in movies, especially when it comes to James Cagney! :-) Thanks a million for your kind kudos, Big Sis! :-DDelete
It's a very goofy movie, but I have to say that I think that a lot of the time you're laughing at the ridiculous pace of the movie than at any jokes. But thank you for explaining a few of those references-- that cotton workers bit is gold!ReplyDelete
Danny, it's true that, as you say, " a lot of the time you're laughing at the ridiculous pace of the movie than at any jokes -- but for we of Team Bartilucci , that's a big part of the fun, plus you get a bit of history as a bonus! :-D Thanks for joining the Billy Wilder fun and frolic; drop by anytime! :-DDelete
This is probably by favorite James Cagney performance. He and the film are hilarious. It is an often overlooked film, and that is a shame.ReplyDelete
Kim, we're delighted that you love ONE, TWO, THREE as much as Team B. does! We agree, this brilliant satire is often unfairly overlooked. We say it's time to give Cagney and ONE, TWO THREE more love from Wilder and Cagney (and the rest of the cast aren't small potatoes, either)! Glad you dropped by to talk ONE, TWO, THREE, Kim! :-DDelete
Cold War humour - you can't beat it.ReplyDelete
We're a family of history buffs and one of my happiest experiences was watching this with my daughter while she was in high school. She got it! She fell off the couch laughing when the dancing made the picture of Kruschev fall off the wall to reveal Stalin. However, when she showed it to a couple of her friends they seemed to get more of a kick out of watching her reactions than the actual movie.
Paddy, since we're discussing ONE, TWO, THREE, I'd say you can't beat it with a shoe! :-) Your movie blog posts are always wonderful, and now I'm even more impressed to see your whole family loves ONE, TWO, THREE as well! I've said it before and I'll say it again: you're raising your kids right, bless you! Besides, I also happen to be one of those people like your daughter "who when she showed it to a couple of her friends they seemed to get more of a kick out of watching her reactions than the actual movie!" The world needs more folks like us, no? :-D Glad you enjoyed our post, my friend!Delete
Jeez, Dorian, I haven't seen this film since it opened in theaters at the dawn of time - or so it seems. But I do remember howling with laughter back then. "I wish I was in hell with my back broken." My kind of humor. HAHAHA!!! Oh how often I've thought this myself. I must see this again, m'dear. Thanks for the reminder. :)ReplyDelete
Yvette, I love your quip about ONE, TWO, THREE opening "at the dawn of time," because I feel that way, too, in the most delightful way! Even with the more topic gags of the era, it's still hilarious, especially for those of us who enjoy both the humor of that time and those of us with youngsters who we can discuss that time in ways that show the satirical side! I knew you'd appreciate it as much as we of Team B do! Thanks, my friend, and warmest wishes to you and your dear little kiddos! Have a wonderful weekend! :-DDelete
Thanks for your kind kudos about our ONE, TWO, THREE comments, Yvette! I knew you'd get a kick out of it, too; I got a kick out of your quip about the film opening "at the dawn of time" (heck, so do I! :-)! I see ONE, TWO, THREE as the world's most hilarious history, one that never gets old, especially with that swell cast! Thanks for dropping by for the ONE, TWO, THREE fun, and warmest wishes and a great weekend to you and your dear family, my friend! :-DDelete
Love this film, Dorian, and your wonderful review. As a Cagney fan and Wilder fan, it is pure heaven. And bless Jimmy for having the grace to go out on top. p.s. - I can't get that last gif out of my mind....ReplyDelete
Marsha, I'm tickled pink (as opposed to Communist Red :-)) that you got a kick out of our ONE, TWO, THREE post -- thanks a million for you kind kudos! And all of us here at Team Bartilucci HQ can't get our Lilo Pulver GIF out of our minds either (not that anyone here has been complaining! :-D Thanks, and have a swell week!Delete
Like you Billy Wilder is one of my favorite filmmakers. I saw this film years ago and recorded a while back but have yet to watch it again. I could never get over the speed at which Cagney spits out Wilder's dialogue. Rapid fire!!! When made the film was surely topical and I wonder if some of the jokes that were timely at the time might not be caught by a modern audience??? Will have to check it out again. Superb post as always!!!ReplyDelete
John, we're delighted you enjoyed our post about ONE, TWO, THREE for the Billy Wilder Blogathon! Maybe James Cagney felt he needed a break after that wild and crazy farce, but he was terrific as ever (great in RAGTIME, too)! Some viewers might think some of the gags were dated, but we love it not only for its comedy, but also for explaining the issues of that time. It's not every day that you can enjoy a hilarious farce, and learn about history! :-D Thanks for your positive feedback, my friend, as always, and warmest wishes to you and Dorothy!Delete
I love this film so much, and the reason I saw it for the first time was Cagney, my favorite actor. With time I learned to enjoy Billy Wilder's genius. And it took me some years unbtil I learned who was Red Skelton - besides the guy who impersonated Cagney here. I agre that some jokes may not be understood by a public that doesn't understand history, but I believe it'd be a great loss for them.ReplyDelete
Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)
Le, I'm delighted you enjoyed ONE, TWO, THREE in the Billy Wilder Blogathon! I hear what you mean about learning about performers of the time; heck, we love Red Skelton, too, and we explained some of the stars to our younger family members! :-D We need to educate the younger kids in our family so these great stars will see why they're so awesome! Now I'm off to write about your IRMA LA DOUCE blog post, my friend! :-DDelete
The intention of this comment is to let you know that I've nominated you for the Versatile Blogger Award!! Just check out my post for all the rules and have fun with it - after all, you deserve it! Congrats!! http://1001movieman.blogspot.com/2014/07/versatile-blogger-award.htmlReplyDelete
Thanks for the Versatile Blogger Award, Andrew! Hope you and yours are having a great weekend, my friend! :-DDelete