U.S., 104 min, 1961, 2K DCP, Dir. Billy Wilder, Unrated, Park Circus
"One, Two, Three looks forward to great black comedies from the 1960s, anticipating Dr. Strangelove in its cynical realpolitik and The Producers in its relentless Nazi bating." – J. Hoberman, Village Voice
C.C. MacNamara (James Cagney in his last film for 20 years) is head of West Berlin operations for Coca-Cola and dreams of a promotion to run all of Europe. But his boss's daughter is in love with scruffy Otto, an East German communist who wants to whisk her off to Moscow. MacNamara must transform the Rednik into a European gentleman while negotiating with a Soviet apparatchik. Billy Wilder and co-screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond packed the film with dozens of Cold War jokes (The apparatchik boasts that "We have trade agreement with Cuba: they sends us cigars, we send them rockets") and Soviet-poverty gags left over from Wilder's script for the Garbo Ninotchka. (Otto says his Moscow supervisors "have assigned him a magnificent apartment - just a short walk from the bathroom"). The irreverent tone alienated critics of the day (Wilder was shooting in Berlin the morning the Wall went up), but in the Trump era, the movie looks like the highest, most ruthless form of comedy: world politics played like uncompromising farce.
This screening of One, Two, Three is made possible by a generous donation from the Harry & Mary Perrin Fund of the Coral Gables Community Foundation and hosted by Don & Jeannett Slesnick.
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