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One, Two, Three Details


In his last starring film (it was supposed to be his last film, but came along in 1981), James Cagney plays Coca-Cola executive C.R. MacNamara. Assigned to manage Coke's West Berlin office, MacNamara dreams of being transferred to London, and to do this he must curry favor with his Atlanta-based boss, Hazeltine (Howard St. John). Thus, MacNamara agrees to look after Hazeltine's dizzy, impulsive daughter, Scarlett (Pamela Tiffin), during her visit to Germany. Weeks pass, and on the eve of Hazeltine's visit to West Berlin, Scarlett announces that she's gotten married. Even worse, her husband is a hygienically challenged East Berlin Communist named Otto Piffl (Horst Buchholz). The crafty MacNamara arranges for Piffl to be arrested by the East Berlin police and to have the marriage annulled, only to discover that Scarlett is pregnant. In rapid-fire "one, two, three" fashion, MacNamara must arrange for Piffl to be released by the Communists and successfully pass off the scrungy, doggedly anti-capitalist Piffl as an acceptable husband for Scarlett. MacNamara must accomplish this in less than 12 hours, all the while trying to mollify his wife (Arlene Francis), who has learned of his affair with busty secretary Ingeborg (Lilo Pulver). Seldom pausing for breath, Billy Wilder's film is a crackling, mile-a-minute farce, taking satiric scattershots at Coca-Cola, the Cold War (the film is set in the months just before the erection of the Berlin Wall), Russian red tape, Communist and capitalist hypocrisy, Southern bigotry, the German "war guilt," rock music, and even Cagney's own movie image. Not all the gags are in the best of taste, and most of the one-liners have dated rather badly, but Cagney's mesmerizing performance holds the whole affair together. Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond adapted their screenplay from an obscure play by Ferenc Molnár. Watch for Red Buttons in an unbilled cameo as a military policeman, and listen for the voice of Sig Rumann, emanating from the mouth of actor Hubert Von Meyerinck (the Count von Droste-Schattenburg). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

  • Release date:December 15, 1961


Awarded by
Hollywood Foreign Press Association Pamela Tiffin Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture 1961 Nominee
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Daniel L. Fapp Best Black and White Cinematography 1961 Nominee


James Cagney
as C.R. MacNamara
Horst Buchholz
as Otto Ludwig Piffl
Pamela Tiffin
as Scarlett Hazeltine
Liselotte Pulver
as Ingeborg
Howard St. John
as Hazeltine
Hanns Lothar
as Schlemmer
Lois Bolton
as Mrs. Hazeltine
Leon Askin
as Peripetchikoff
Peter Capell
as Mishkin
Ralf Wolter
as Borodenko
Karl Lieffen
as Fritz
Henning Schluter
as Dr. Bauer
Til Kiwe
as Reporter
John Allen
as Tommy MacNamara
Helmut Schmidt
as East German Police Corporal
Otto Friebel
as East German Interrogator
Max Buchsbaum
as Tailor
Red Buttons
as Military Police Sergeant
Hubert Von Meyerinck
as Count Von Droste-Schattenburg


Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder
Ferenc Molnar
Play Author
I.A.L. Diamond
Daniel L. Fapp
Andre Previn
Composer (Music Score)
Andre Previn
Musical Direction/Supervision
Dan Mandell
Alexandre Trauner
Art Director
Doane Harrison
Associate Producer
I.A.L. Diamond
Associate Producer
Basil Fenton-Smith
Sound/Sound Designer
Milt Rice
Special Effects
Tom Pevsner
First Assistant Director