Monday, December 26, 2011

Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three: Coca-Cola, Communists and Comedy

It was our 12-year-old son who recommended we watch One, Two, Three on Christmas evening. You see, my husband is passing along his love for film to our sons and it seems the seventh grader already has seen this movie a few times. It's a great movie and a lot of fun to watch. The movie proves the time-tested advice to writers: Write what you know.

Billy Wilder, who was Jewish, was born in 1906 in what is now Poland. He fled Berlin during the Nazi regime and went on to become one of Hollywood's most brilliant directors. You might know some of his other movies such as  Hollywood Boulevard, the Apartment, Ninotchka, Double Indemnity, Some Like It Hot, and so on.

One, Two, Three, released in 1961, is a comedy set in West Berlin during the Cold War and before the construction of the Berlin Wall. It is a fast-paced story involving an American Coca-Cola executive with a roving eye, played by James Cagney, and his miserable American wife, played by Arlene Francis. The plot is set into motion by the arrival of Scarlet, the flighty daughter of the executive's boss. She describes herself as a "naturally hot-blooded daughter," and ends up falling in love with Otto, a Communist youth from East Berlin.

This broad comedy derives its laugh-out-loud humor from satirizing Capitalist Americans, former Nazis and Soviet Communists. Politics is a backdrop for the movie.

The movie opens with this voiceover, which sets the tone for the rest of the movie. Go rent it!

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!


  1. Somehow this film never made my daughters' must-see film lists, but then you probably haven't been watching many "Gibson Girls" re-runs or DVDs of "Sister Act" in your mostly male house. :-)

  2. Do you mean Gilmore Girls? That is a huge hit with my husband, who also happens to like musicals and awards shows. :)

    Sister Act? Not so much.