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?|