Combustible Celluloid
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With: James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin, Arlene Francis, Howard St. John, Hanns Lothar, Leon Askin, Ralf Wolter, Karl Lieffen, Hubert von Meyerinck, Lois Bolton, Peter Capell, Til Kiwe, Henning Schlüter, Karl Ludwig Lindt, Liselotte Pulver
Written by: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, based on a play by Ferenc Molnar
Directed by: Billy Wilder
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 108
Date: 12/15/1961

One, Two, Three (1961)

4 Stars (out of 4)

Count on It

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

After the enormous success of The Apartment, Wilder could no longer please great numbers of fans and critics, and one of his very best films, One, Two, Three (1961, MGM/UA, $19.98), was an undeserved flop. James Cagney stars as a Coca-Cola executive stationed in West Berlin who has to keep the boss's daughter from marrying a Communist. Unlike his other lengthy, languorous films from this period, One, Two, Three moves at lightning speed, with Cagney keeping just ahead of the pace. Using a beautiful black-and-white widescreen frame, Wilder not only gets us to care about his characters, but he skewers Germany and American capitalism at the same time. It's his darkest, most energetic film since the rarely seen Ace in the Hole (a.k.a. The Big Carnival). This was Cagney's last film before his retirement, but he returned in 1981 for a role in Milos Forman's Ragtime.