Thursday, April 22, 2010

One Two Three

A couple of posts ago I wrote about Billy Wilder's movie, Sunset Blvd. Last night I watched another in the Wilder 'canon,' the oddball comedy, One Two Three (from 1961). Perhaps now mostly remembered (if remembered at all) because it was James Cagney's last movie for around 17 years, it's a hectic, wild, loud, annoying farce, that seems to play at full bore for all of its running time.

For the cast it must have been better than a bottle of fat burning pills - all of them are required to take their scenes at a breathless pace, and Cagney does his part at full throttle, not only sending his own earlier screen roles up once or twice but being sent up by other characters as well. It would be interesting to see it again in a cinema with a full audience of people already a little merry. In a living room watching it on the telly, it just doesn't hit the mark any more in spite of everyone's best intentions. There are plenty of jokes, lots of comings and goings in the plot, lots of mild satire (perhaps milder now than it was at the time), stereotype Russians/Communists and militaristic/Germans - and yes, even a few laugh-out-loud moments. But compare it to the rich humour of Some Like it Hot and you have to wonder if this is the same author/director at work here.

Horst Buchholz, who first appeared in a movie at the age of 19 and was still working up till the year before he died (2003) has a lot of fun with his over-the-top Communist youth, and Pamela Tiffin plays the dizzy Southern belle who's madly in love with him. The rest of the cast are a mixed bag of American, German and multi-European actors.

The most intriguing thing about the movie is how they persuaded Coca-Cola to allow itself to be sent up as well as everything else. The company plays an integral part in the plot - although it's mana is completely undermined in the last shot.
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