Thursday, April 5, 2012

One, Two, Three

In the days before the erection of the Wall, a Coca-Cola man in West Berlin is jockeying for a job in the London office when his boss back home in Atlanta asks him to look after his teenage daughter as she passes through on her tour of Europe. Seeing this as a way to score points, things go from bad to worse after the girl disappears for the night and returns with a firebreathing, East Berlin communist radical! Now he must come up with a plan to annul the marriage and ditch the red, but things just keep getting more and more out of hand for the controlling executive. Like its title would indicate, "One, Two, Three" is a flat out assault, made at a breakneck pace, and featuring an endless barrage of gags and one-liners-the kind of film The Marx Brothers would have appreciated. Made by legendary auteur Billy Wilder and scripted with oft collaborator I.A.L Diamond, the film features his inimitable brand of humor. In a whirlwind performance, which would prove to be his penultimate one, James Cagney barely comes up for air in a spectacular turn. His supporters, all perfectly cast, are uniformly wonderful most notably the young Horst Buchholz as the unfortunately named commie beau Otto Ludwig Piffl. Wilder and Cagney is a fortuitous match, one that should have happened sooner and more often, and both live up to their deservedly high reputations.