2917. One, Two, Three (1961)

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8.9 Frenetic, non-stop hilarity
  • Acting 8.9
  • Directing 8.9
  • Story 9.0
  • User Ratings (0 Votes) 0

Starring: James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin

Director: Billy Wilder

Running Time: 108 mins


One, Two, Three is an American film about a Coca-Cola executive working in West Berlin who is tasked with looking after the free-minded young daughter of his boss, while the spectre of the Cold War looms large.

This is without a doubt one of the funniest movies I’ve ever seen. A hilarious Cold War satire that moves at lightning pace, I was absolutely killing myself laughing watching One, Two, Three.

From its pitch-perfect screenplay to energetic performances, from its frantic humour to its ingenious satire, there’s never a dull moment. And while the film may touch on elements of society from 60 years ago, if you know just a little bit of history, you’ll appreciate it so, so much.

But if there’s one thing to know about One, Two, Three, it’s just how funny it is. A gut-bustingly hilarious watch at every moment, I really can’t remember the last time I’ve laughed so much at a movie.

Flying along at a deliberate lightning pace, director Billy Wilder throws the kitchen sink and more at making this as frenetic and insane a comedy as possible. The joke-per-minute ratio is off the scale, the performances are hyper to the extreme, and even the music will put you in a frenzied mood.

Zipping along as it jumps from one comedic set-piece to next, One, Two, Three’s manic atmopshere is made even more insane by its hilarious ensemble cast.

James Cagney plays a Coca-Cola executive whose harebrained schemes to keep his career on track leave him at the centre of an increasingly frenzied situation. His energy through the whole movie is spectacular, and the way he keeps up such an animated presence even through some of the film’s longest (often one-take) scenes is absolutely spectacular.

But not only is Cagney fantastic, because the whole cast is outstanding. The main supporting players add so much to the frenzied fun of it all, but even those with smaller roles (particularly Cagney’s assistant and secretary) delight with hilariously comic performances.

All brought together with brilliant editing and pitch-perfect directing from Billy Wilder, there’s barely a moment to breathe between laughs in One, Two, Three.

But the film isn’t just a hilarious farce, because its story is also a brilliant satire on the Cold War and the opposing ideologies of capitalism and communism.

Playing on what were then extremely contemporary issues, if you know even the smallest bit about the Cold War and divided Berlin, then there are so many utterly hilarious, spot-on jokes that you’ll never see in any films taking a retrospective look on the history.

The way the story brings the Cold War conflict to life in the form of a hilarious farce is an utter delight, but the fact that it blends ridiculous comic humour with biting satire is what really keeps it feeling fresh right the way through.

One, Two, Three isn’t just a mad, frantic farce – although that’s certainly what makes it so much fun. It’s a brilliant piece of filmmaking, that takes an ingenious screenplay with a hilarious sense of humour and turns it into a breathlessly entertaining watch.

With an exhilarating pace, director Billy Wilder makes this a film impossible to turn away from, while its ensemble cast puts in an incredible shift to bring as much irresistibly manic energy to the table. And as a result, this really is one of the funniest films you’ll ever see, which is why I’m giving it an 8.9.

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About Author

The Mad Movie Man, AKA Anthony Cullen, writes articles and reviews about movies and the world of cinema. Since January 1st, 2013, he has watched and reviewed a movie every day. This is the blog dedicated to the project: www.madmovieman.com