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One Two Three [VHS] (1961)

James Cagney , Horst Buchholz , Billy Wilder  |  NR |  VHS Tape
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)


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Product Details

  • Actors: James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin, Arlene Francis, Howard St. John
  • Directors: Billy Wilder
  • Writers: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Ferenc Molnár
  • Producers: Billy Wilder, Doane Harrison, I.A.L. Diamond
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English, German, Russian
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • VHS Release Date: March 2, 1994
  • Run Time: 115 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (113 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301971744
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,745 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com

Hardly ever mentioned in the category of lightning-paced comedies--the His Girl Friday and Preston Sturges kind--is this breathless cold war farce from the great Billy Wilder. Adapted from a one-act play by Ferenc Molnár, Wilder and collaborator I.A.L. Diamond's hilarious screenplay is a whirlwind collection of one-liners, gags, and double-entendres, anchored for the cameras by Jimmy Cagney's cagey and frenetic performance (one of his best), and, under Wilder's direction, executed with diamond-like precision. The gangster-movie icon plays a Coca-Cola executive in West Berlin (the film's 1961 release put it squarely in the middle of the world's laserlike focus on East vs. West tensions) who has parlayed expanding American consumerism into a chance to break through the Iron Curtain and sell "the pause that refreshes" to thirsty comrades. But when his Atlanta boss's visiting 17-year-old daughter (Pamela Tiffin), a boy-crazy Southern tornado, reveals that she has secretly married an American-hating German Commie (Horst Buchholz), Cagney's big-American-fish-in-a-European-pond lifestyle is threatened, especially once Daddy hops a plane to Germany. As the plot accelerates, the lines literally spit out of the cast's mouths--the title refers to Cagney's character's rapid-fire rattling off of lists of tasks--and Wilder's penchant for urbane nastiness is perfectly measured by the order of the whole crazy circus. This movie takes gleeful potshots at both sides of a conflict that terrified audiences in its day, but has aged beautifully to become a fascinating time capsule, an exhilarating litany of zingers and a potent blueprint for razor-sharp political satire. Cagney would retire after this movie for 20 years (returning for 1981's Ragtime), and it's hardly any wonder: he has the energy of 10 performances in this one film. --Robert Abele

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Put Yer Pants on, Spartacus........ April 2, 2002
Format:DVD
I have always loved this movie for two reasons: James Cagney and James Cagney. A lesser-known Billy Wilder comedy gem, this film moves like greased lightning. An out and out farce, the modern audience may not appreciate some of the Cold War jokes, but the movie is still well-worth anyone's while to see Cagney's brilliant performance and the non-stop machine-gun delivery of one-liners and asides.
The head of Coca Cola in Cold War divided Berlin (but before the Wall), is saddled with the twit daughter (she of the over-active hormones), of one of his Coke Atlanta Office superiors. She becomes involved with an East German communist bohemian/activist, the parents from Atlanta are on the way, and all the fun begins.
The jokes are rapid fire and non-stop. The cast impeccable. I can't imagine anyone other than Cagney doing his role (its that indelible). In its own way a daring little picture, the world was incredibly tense when this movie came out, much like it is today but for different reasons. Berlin was one of the world's "hot spots" and a face-off point with the Soviet Union and a possible spark for Armageddan. Wilder found humor in that tension and the laughs that resulted were relief at the discovery of the human comedy within the Cold War. He put a human face on the communists and found in their foibles the same age-old human weaknesses of greed & lust & envy. In other words, they were the same as us. That meant there was hope.
But the heck with that, its funny as hell. Take the ride.
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38 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 2nd Funniest Movie by the Great Billy... April 3, 2002
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Billy Wilder made the great comedy "Some Like it Hot" in 1959. The following year, he broke Academy records by winning THREE Oscars for "The Apartment" (Writer, Director, Producer); his next film brought James Cagney his (almost) last role, a role that exhausted him (& the audience) so much he said he'd never make another film (1981's RAGTIME brought him out of retirement for a small role). It's almost impossible to imagine that he was having nothing but fun. Truth is, Cagney was having problems remembering lines, Wilder was pushing him (not unlike Monroe) and wringing out of him the most energetic performance I've ever seen. Subtlety, social comment, outrageous events--all staples of a Wilder film--were wrought with the complete insanity taken way over the top. The plot, involving Coca Cola's executive in Berlin in 1961, revolved around family life and corporate BS, and has to be one of the most frantic & enjoyable experiences, not to mention, breathless. Brilliant black & white Panavision photography by Daniel L. Fapp was Oscar nominated, but the rapid-fire, (often improvised) screenplay by Wilder & regular collaborator, I.A.L. Diamond was ignored by the Academy, as well as Cagney's incredible performance. The acting, besides Cagney, is acceptable; Pamela Tiffen & Horst Buchholz only had to look pretty and very affected, in which case their over-acting was appropriate. Arlene Francis seemed to be the "grounded force", keeping things a bit down to earth with droll humor. But the real acting support came from the lovely & wonderful Lilo Pulver and the agile Hanns Lothar. Leon Askin, a character actor so often in unrecognizable roles, is again brilliant here. The scenes at the Grand Hotel Potemkin are hilarious, and seeing Hanns Lothar in drag is something to behold! Read more ›
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Bury us, but don't MARRY us!" October 25, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Set your time machine for 1961 and go back to the days of Khrushchev, Huntley-Brinkley, and the height of the Cold War. Billy Wilder's screwball farce is set in West Berlin, where Macnamara (James Cagney), the head of the local Coca Cola office, wants " the pause that refreshes" to be the first American product sold behind the Iron Curtain. He also has to baby-sit his boss's wild teenage daughter (played by Pamela Tiffin), who quickly marries a raging communist from East Berlin and finds herself in the family way. And now her father is coming over to see how well Macnamara is taking care of his little girl.

This frenetic comedy is not for everyone, but if you can remember pill box hats and Berlin before the Wall, you will probably love it. The one-liners come fast and furious as all the actors shout their lines, and the "Sabre Dance" is the background music for the non-stop physical humor. Cagney hams it up as the harried Coca Cola boss who barks orders to his ex-nazi assistant and keeps wife Arlene Francis from leaving him. Tiffin, a teen icon at the time, floats through the movie in a Southern-belle haze, mostly ogling handsome Horst Buchholz, who plays her commie beatnik husband, Otto ("He doesn't even wear socks!"). The supporting cast is full of German and Russian stereotypes of the period who race around at breakneck speed trying to make Otto into a respectable husband.

If you liked the wacky political humor that was popular at the time, you'll enjoy this very funny comedy, filmed in glorious black and white.

Kona
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cagney at his best in Berlin before the "wall" went up! January 24, 2002
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
An ambitious American Coca-Cola executive in Berlin is a promising plot line which James Cagney and an excellent cast turn into a great comedy film. There are numerous small points that please the eye and add to the enjoyment of the film. The office staff springing to attention each time "the boss" enters the room is great. The German office manager who reflexively clicks his heels each time Cagney addresses him - he barely resists the stiff armed salute, is another pleasing sequence and gives a glimpse of his former life before Coke. Cagney's passionate pursuit of his secretary is equally fun to watch - you realize that his wife will ultimately know, which adds to the fun and sense of inevitability.

Tasked with keeping an eye on his boss's daughter, who is mostly occupied with chasing boys, becomes Cagney's all consuming passion and concern. His total inability to carry out this task is what makes this movie so amusing. He can control Coca-Cola operations in Europe, but not a teenaged girl. Cagney's East German/Soviet Bloc opponents seem like the "usual suspects" in send up movies, but they all work well in their quest for the secret formula that makes Coke so successful. Cagney's cataloging of their failed attempts is side-spliotting. The double talk and double dealing is non-stop and excellently done and just adds to the fun of the film.

This is a film that is little known but it shouldn't be. Made at the end of Cagney's career, it highlights just how versatile he was as an actor and what a great comedic actor he was. Anyone with an interest in Cagney would enjoy this film and view it more than once.

This is also a chance to see Berlin before it was altered and changed by the erection of the Berlin Wall which was went up not too long after this film was made. It is a Berlin under the four powers that few will understand now that the city and country have been reunified.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Rare gem of a comedy...
Next to Angles with Dirty Faces, this is our favorite James Cagney movie.
Published 11 days ago by Diane Cipa
5.0 out of 5 stars I was never a fan of James Cagney until I ...
I was never a fan of James Cagney until I watched this movie and his other work Yankee Doodle Dandy. His dancing singing and comedy really helped me to respect the man. Read more
Published 22 days ago by Ronald Hewitt
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not work in US DVD players.
The DVD did not work in any of the DVD players that i tried. It's format was not compatible with USA's players. Read more
Published 24 days ago by JJN
5.0 out of 5 stars Great movie!
My dad and I love this movie! It's pretty fast-paced and you have to know your WWII and Communism history, but if you do, it's hilarious!
Published 2 months ago by Becca
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Comedy
Cagney is at his best in this charming comedy. I recommend it for anyone who lived during the cold war era.
Published 3 months ago by Bill Luke
5.0 out of 5 stars Great classic
I saw this movie years ago. Jimmy Cagney is non stop movement. Arlene Francis is funny as all get out when she refers to her husband as Mein Furher. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Hall M. Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars Go for it..
Jimmy Cagney at his best, but not as a gangster. This time he heads up the post WW2 Berlin, Coca Cola office. Read more
Published 4 months ago by jrddn47
5.0 out of 5 stars Academy Award Material
Not politically correct enough for its time evidently. Very funny unless you don't have a sense of humor. Read more
Published 5 months ago by E. Strawn
1.0 out of 5 stars Useless
Since I was unable to play it at all, I cannot review it. Whenever I tried to play it, I got the error notice: "Region error". Read more
Published 6 months ago by Viggo
5.0 out of 5 stars This would be a great film to show in a civics class
Great entertainment and a tremendous civics lesson all in one! The film moves at a lightning pace and Cagny is superb in his timing and delivery. Read more
Published 7 months ago by jbdmd
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The secretary
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liselotte_Pulver
Feb 6, 2009 by Dr. Thomas Marx |  See all 2 posts
secretary
Liselotte Pulver. Films: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liselotte_Pulver
Feb 6, 2009 by Dr. Thomas Marx |  See all 2 posts
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