Sunday, July 09, 2006

Overlooked Movies: One, Two, Three

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! ~C.C. MacNamara's opening line

Berlin, after the Second World War: C.R. MacNamara presides over the Coca-Cola branch of Germany. He is working hard and trying his very best to impress the Atlanta headquarters, since he has heard that the European headquarters in London will soon be looking for a new head. Now, Coca-Cola boss Mr. Hazeltine asks MacNamara to take care of his daughter Scarlett, who is going to take a trip to Europe. Scarlett, however, does not behave the way a young respectable girl of her age should: Instead of sightseeing, she goes out until the early morning and has lots of fun. Finally, she falls in love with Otto Piffl, a young man from East Berlin and a flaming Communist, and marries him surprisingly. When MacNamara hears of this, he intrigues quite a bit with the help of his assistant Schlemmer to get Piffl into an East German prison, but when he also gets note of his Boss and wife coming over to visit their daughter in Berlin, he needs to get Piffl out again, convert him to Capitalism and present him as a fine young and noble husband in order to get his London post, and all of that very quick!

View a scene in three parts here:

Billy Wilder's Explosive New Comedy

Fun Trivia:
The building of the Berlin Wall had begun in the night of August 13, 1961, right trough the set at the Brandenburger Tor. The team, discovering the change in the morning, had to move to Munich to shoot the missing scenes on the parking lot of the Bavaria Film Studios, where a copy of the lower half of the Brandenburger Tor had to be built.

After he learns Scarlett is pregnant, James Cagney moans, "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" This was Edward G. Robinson's famous line from Little Caesar.

Billy Wilder made James Cagney do over 30 takes of a scene because Cagney kept saying "coat and striped pants" instead of "morning coat and striped pants."

In James Cagney's autobiography, he says that Horst Buchholz was the only actor he really hated working with because he was uncooperative and tried all kinds of scene-stealing moves, which Cagney depended on Billy Wilder to correct. Had Wilder not firmly directed Bucholz, Cagney said that he "was going to knock Buchholz on his ass, which at several points I would have been very happy to do".

When asked in 1974 why he made a film about Coca Cola, Wilder responded: "I just think Coca-Cola to be funny. And when I drink it, it seems even funnier to me."

James Cagney had such a negative experience making this film that he retired from films for twenty years until his cameo in the film Ragtime in 1981.

Joan Crawford (then on the board of PepsiCo) telephoned the director, Billy Wilder, in protest at the movie's Coca-Cola connection. Wilder then added a final scene in which Cagney emerges from an airplane to find (and kick) a Pepsi cooler.

Fun Quotes:
Otto Ludwig Piffl: Is everybody in this world corrupt?
Peripetchikoff: I don't know everybody.

Otto: I will not have my son grow up to be a capitalist.
Scarlet: When he's 18 he can make his mind up whether he wants to be a capitalist or a rich communist.

C.R. MacNamara: Ten minutes early! That's a hell of a way to run an airline! Planes are supposed to be late, not early!
C.R. MacNamara: Cigarette? Cigar?
Peripetchikoff: Here, take one of these.
C.R. Macnamara: Thanks. Hm, 'Made in Havana'.
Peripetchikoff: We have trade agreement with Cuba. They send us cigars, we send them rockets.
C.R. Macnamara: Good thinking.
C.R. MacNamara: You know something? You guys got cheated. This is a pretty crummy cigar.
Peripetchikoff: Do not worry. We send them pretty crummy rockets.

C.R. MacNamara: Are you out of your seventeen year old mind? Russia is to get out of, not to get into!

One, Two, Three is an Overlooked classic indeed, check it out!


SamuraiFrog said...

Ah, but you overlooked my favorite bit of trivia. When McNamara is teaching Otto to eat properly, he gets so pissed that he holds up a grapefruit, brandishes it, and says threateningly: "How about a little grapefruit for breakfast?" In his 1933 picture "Lady Killer," he pushes a grapefruit into the face of Mae Clarke. Some credit that scene with making him a star.

"One, Two, Three" just might be my favorite comedy of all time.

Anonymous said...

I agree, this might be my all-time favorite comedy. Any Billy Wilder movie is bound to be amazing ("Kiss Me Stupid" anyone?).

However, didn't Cagney do that in "Public Enemy"? I haven't seen "Lady Killer", but I know for a fact he did that in "Public Enemy."