Monday, December 26, 2011
Billy Wilder's One, Two, Three: Coca-Cola, Communists and Comedy
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!