Cast & Crew
C. R. MacNamara, a fast-talking Coca-Cola sales representative in West Berlin, is attempting to introduce the beverage behind the Iron Curtain, hopeful that such a coup will result in his promotion to head of European operations. His hopes are dashed, however, when he learns that his company is not interested in dealing with the Russians; instead, he is ordered to chaperone his boss's daughter, 17-year-old Scarlett Hazeltine, during her 2-week stay in Berlin. The girl's visit lasts 2 months, in which time she secretly marries Otto Ludwig Piffl, a beatnik Communist from East Berlin. MacNamara learns the horrifying news at the same time he receives word that Hazeltine is arriving in West Berlin the next day. Frantic, MacNamara plants on Otto a copy of the Wall Street Journal , which gets him arrested by the East German police. After arranging to have the marriage certificate removed from official files, MacNamara learns that Scarlett is pregnant; aware that he must present Hazeltine with an ideal son-in-law, MacNamara gets Otto out of the East Berlin jail, buys him a royal title, and converts him into a well-groomed capitalist. He is so successful that Hazeltine decides that Otto is the man to head Coca-Cola's European operations; MacNamara must settle for a vice-presidency in the Atlanta office.
Howard St. John
Hubert Von Meyerinck
Karl Ludwig Lindt
Rose Renee Roth
Jaspar Von Oertzen
Inga De Toro
Abi Von Hasse
I. A. L. Diamond
I. A. L. Diamond
One, Two, Three
In Cameron Crowe's book, Conversations with Wilder (Alfred A. Knopf), the director commented on Cagney's delivery, saying "We knew that we were going to have a comedy, we [were] not going to be waiting for the laughs. But we had to go with Cagney, because Cagney was the whole picture. He really had the rhythm, and that was very good. It was not funny. But just the speed was funny...The general idea was, let's make the fastest picture in the world...And yeah, we did not wait, for once, for the big laughs. We went through the big laughs. A lot of lines that needed a springboard, and we just went right through the springboard...We just did it, nine pages at a time, and he never fumbled, he never made a mistake." [This last remark, however, wasn't completely true according to a Cagney biography].
In the film, Cagney plays C.R. MacNamara, Coca-Cola's head of bottling in Germany and a total company man. As far as Wilder and Diamond are concerned, the Atlanta-based company represents the good ol' U.S. of A. MacNamara's a snorting, rampaging mass-marketer who would like nothing more than to become the head of operations for all of Europe. To that end, McNamara agrees to oversee Scarlett Hazeltine (Pamela Tiffin), the teenage daughter of a Coca-Cola big-wig (Howard St. John), while she tours the continent. Unfortunately, Scarlett gets married on the sly to Otto Ludwig Piffl (Horst Buchholz), a fully committed Communist hippie, without MacNamara's approval. Her father will soon be arriving in Germany, so MacNamara desperately attempts to present Otto as a Capitalist.
One, Two, Three was filmed in West Berlin and Munich in the summer of 1961. Cagney agreed to star in the picture mainly because of the location shoot. He grew up in New York City's Yorkville district, an area that was teeming with German immigrants, and he had fond memories of trips to the corner butcher shop. Cagney loved his neighbors' language just as much as their food, so he thought spending some time in Berlin would be a pleasurable experience. It was, to an extent. He didn't, however, count on being driven nuts by his director or one of his fellow cast members.
Wilder's insistence on breakneck, rat-a-tat-tat timing to each and every scene soon began to wear on Cagney. One sequence, in which he had to spit out a steady stream of complex dialogue while selecting clothes for a wedding, was the breaking point. He had only received the script pages the night before, and he wasn't completely comfortable with them. Wilder's resolve to shoot the scene in one take was repeatedly hindered when Cagney stumbled over the line, "Where is the morning coat and striped trousers?" It eventually took 57 takes to get it all out with 100% accuracy. Cagney was genuinely irked that Wilder couldn't accept even the slightest bit of paraphrasing.
But that was nothing compared to his feelings toward Buchholz, the only actor who Cagney, a consummate gentleman, ever openly disliked. "I got riled at S.Z. Sakall," he once said, "in Yankee Doodle Dandy  for trying to steal a scene, but he was an incorrigible old ham who was quietly and respectfully put in his place by (director) Michael Curtiz. No harm in the old boy. But this Horst Buchholz character I truly loathed. Had he kept on with his little scene-stealing didoes, I would have been forced to knock him on his ass, which I would have very much enjoyed doing."
In the midst of all this, Cagney was slowly coming to the conclusion that he no longer enjoyed acting and was ready to hang it up. During his stay in Germany he had loaned his boat to his good friend, Rolie Winters. One day, while the set was being readied, he wandered out of Munich's Bavaria Studios into glorious sunlight. "On this particular day, I had just received a letter from (Rolie) with a picture enclosed. The photo was of Rolie and his wife and of a number of other friends sitting in the boat, raising their glasses to the camera and me...then the assistant director came and said, 'Mr. Cagney, we are ready.' So inside the studio I went, and as they closed the giant doors behind me and I found myself in that great black cavern with just a few spotlights dotted here and there, I said to myself, 'Well, this is it. This is the end. I'm finished." He stayed retired for the next 20 years, with 1981's Ragtime being his final big-screen appearance.
Produced and directed by: Billy Wilder
Writers: Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond (based on a play by Ferenc Molnar) Cinematography: Daniel L. Fapp
Editing: Daniel Mandell
Music: Andre Previn
Art Design: Alexander Trauner
Principal Cast: James Cagney (C.R. MacNamara), Horst Buchholz (Otto Ludwig Piffl), Pamela Tiffin (Scarlett Hazeltine), Arlene Francis (Phyllis MacNamara), Lilo Pulver (Ingeborg), Howard St. John (Hazeltine), Hanns Lothar (Schlemmer), Lois Bolton (Mrs. Hazeltine), Leon Askin (Peripetchikoff), Peter Capell (Mishkin), Ralf Wolter (Borodenko.)
by Paul Tatara
One, Two, Three
TCM Remembers - Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder had the most deliciously dirty mind in Hollywood. The director dug into racy, controversial subjects with cynical wit and rare candor; he set new standards for film noir, sex comedies and the buddy film and his movies continue to inspire new generations of filmmakers.
Cameron Crowe, screenwriter and director of contemporary hit films such as Jerry Maguire(1996), was one of those moved by Wilder's film sense. The struggling filmmaker struck up a friendship with the 93-year old veteran and found a friend and a mentor. Their conversations were recently chronicled in a book by Cameron Crowe entitled Conversations with Wilder(published by Knoft).
Billy Wilder might have been born in Vienna, but American culture influenced him from the earliest days. Given the name Samuel, Wilder's mother called her son 'Billy' in honor of Buffalo Bill Cody. The name stuck.
Billy was as restless as his namesake and left law school to become a journalist. While grinding out articles for a Berlin newspaper, Wilder joined with future film directors Fred Zinnemann, Robert Sidomak and Edgar G. Ulmer to make a short film, Menschen Am Sonntag (1929). By the mid-1930s, he had written seven scenarios and even tried his hand at directing. After Hitler's rise to power in 1934, Wilder fled his homeland. Once in Hollywood, Wilder and roommate Peter Lorre had to learn English quickly if they wanted to join the American film industry. Together the German expatriates learned the language and began staking their territory in the Dream Factory.
As a writer, Wilder could craft realistic relationships with sharp dialogue; he proved this in his scripts for Ninotchka (1939) with Greta Garbo and Howard Hawks' Ball of Fire(1941). As a filmmaker, Wilder was well acquainted with the shadowy, brooding style of German Expressionism. He brought these two gifts together to create a landmark film noir - DOUBLE INDEMNITY(1944). He followed this cinematic triumph with a risky project, the story of an alcoholic on a three-day binge. Not the usual subject matter for a Hollywood studio, THE LOST WEEKEND (1945) nevertheless claimed the Academy Award for Best Picture. By the end of the decade, Wilder dared even to paint a portrait of Hollywood stardom gone awry in Sunset Boulevard (1950).
Each of these films is an undisputed classic today, but even at the time, his films were lauded. Six of his screenplays were nominated for Oscars between 1941-1950. Three of his eight Best Director nominations also came during this period. Billy Wilder claimed the American Dream; he was successfully playing by his own rules.
By the end of the '50s, as censorship guidelines were easing, Wilder's projects became even more daring. Sex was central to Wilder's world and Hollywood celebrated his candor. He directed Marilyn Monroe in two of her most sensuous roles, The Seven Year Itch (1955) and SOME LIKE IT HOT(1959). More often than not, Wilder liked pointing his finger at the hyprocrisy of people's sexual mores. In THE APARTMENT(1960), Wilder took an incisive look at corrupt businessmen exploiting their employees for sexual favors. In IRMA LA DOUCE (1963), the world of a Parisian prostitute was lovingly painted in Technicolor tones. In Kiss Me, Stupid (1964), Wilder finally stepped over the line with the story of a struggling composer willing to offer his wife to sell a song.The film, which seems so innocent today, was scandalous in its own day. Critics called Kiss Me, Stupid pornographic smut and buried the picture. Audiences ignored it. Today, the film is a risque farce with great performances by Dean Martin and Kim Novak. The critical lambast deeply affected Wilder; this would be his last sex comedy.
In 1966 Wilder brought together the dynamic combination of Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau with THE FORTUNE COOKIE. Director and stars teamed again for The Front Page (1974), a remake of the newspaper classic; and Buddy, Buddy (1981), the story of an assassin and a sad sack ready to commit suicide.
Wilder's many years in Hollywood produced an amazing string of hits. From sarcastic and cynical social commentary to outrageous sex farce, Wilder pushed his audiences to look at their own values and morals. He was an outsider who wasn't afraid to point out the follies of his fellow man or the worst aspects of American culture. He will be sorely missed.
By Jeremy Geltzer
TCM Remembers - Billy Wilder
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.R. MacNamara
Atlanta!- Phyllis MacNamara
Yeah, I'm the new vice president in charge of bottle caps. They're kicking me upstairs.- C.R. MacNamara
That's something I've always wanted to do myself.- Phyllis MacNamara
I will not have my son grow up to be a capitalist.- Otto
When he's 18 he can make his mind up whether he wants to be a capitalist or a rich communist.- Scarlet
Countess? That means everybody has to curtsy to me, except maybe Grace Kelly.- Scarlet
You've defected?- MacNamara
Is old Russian proverb: "go west young man."- Peripetchikoff
At one point MacNamara, played by James Cagney, threatens Otto with half a grapfruit so that the scene resembles the famous one in Public Enemy, The (1931), Cagney pushed into Mae Clarke's face.
Red Buttons in a small role as an M.P does a Cagney imitation to James Cagney.
After he learns Scarlett is pregnant, Cagney moans, "Mother of mercy, is this the end of Rico?" This was Edward G. Robinson's famous line from _Little Caesar (1930)_ .
The voice of Count von Droste Schattenburg (played on screen by Hubert von Meyerinck) is that of actor Sig Ruman.
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.
Filmed on location in West Germany.
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1961 National Board of Review.
Voted One of the Year's Ten Best Films by the 1961 New York Times Film Critics.
Released in United States November 1972
Released in United States November 1972 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The Billy Wilder Marathon) November 9-19, 1972.)
Released in United States Winter December 1961
Released in United States Winter December 1961