One, Two, Three (1961) stars Jimmy Cagney and Arlene Francis in a movie directed by Billy Wilder. Cagney plays the head of Coca Cola in West Berlin. He dreams of being promoted to the Coke Head of Europe. Cagney’s boss sends his wild, 17-year-old daughter, Scarlett Hazeltine, to West Berlin to get her away from her boyfriends in Atlanta. Cagney thinks he has things under control, but discovers Scarlett has been secretly slipping out at night and visiting East Berlin. And, of course, Scarlett now has a new love interest: Otto the Communist.

Some of the jokes and plot in One, Two, Three reflect the Cold War. The Russians and East Germans are caricatures. Cagney rockets around his office trying to juggle all the various elements of his schemes while Arlene Francis tries to hold his family together. One, Two, Three was Jimmy Cagney’s last movie until his cameo 20 years later in Ragtime. Are you a fan of Cagney and Arlene Francis? GRADE: B-

16 thoughts on “ONE, TWO, THREE

  1. Steve Oerkfitz

    I’m a big fan of Billy Wilder. One, Two, Three is okay but not as good as Wilder’s best: Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, Some Like It Hot, Ace In The Hole and The Apartment. B- is about what I’d give it.

  2. Jeff Meyerson

    My favorite scene was torturing Horst Buchholz by making him listen to “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini.”

    When I was a kid, I loved this movie, thought it was hysterically funny. I did watch it again some years ago and it doesn’t hold up, to say the least. I’ve always loved Cagney but never liked Arlene Francis, on TO TELL THE TRUTH or anywhere else. I could watch it again, but B- is probably about what I’d give it too. Pamela Tiffin was pretty but sort of the Paris Hilton of her day, though undoubtedly a better actress. Amazingly, she is 75 years old. That makes me feel really old.

  3. Patti Abbott

    Love the same films Steve mentioned but this one, no. Arlene Francis is not an actress. And Cagney is not a favorite either.

  4. Michael Padgett

    I remember liking this when I saw it as a teenager when it was originally released, but am not surprised that others think it hasn’t held up well. It pops up on TCM now and then but I haven’t bothered to watch it again. Didn’t remember that Arlene Francis was in it, and really didn’t remember that she was an actress, since I can only recall seeing her on shows like “What’s My Line” and/or “To Tell the Truth”. Cagney was never a big favorite.

    I am a huge Billy Wilder fan, and just last night I watched another of his movies, “Witness For the Prosecution”, which also didn’t seem to be as good as my memory of it.

    1. Jeff Meyerson

      George didn’t mention it, but the film is in black & white.

      The Berlin Wall was built after principal photography was complete (it isn’t in the movie), and whether because of that or other reasons, this flopped at the US and German box office(s).

      1. george Post author

        Jeff, watching people pass easily from West Germany to East Germany and back again became a Thing Of The Past after ONE, TWO, THREE when the Berlin Wall went up and people started dying.

    2. george Post author

      Rick, ONE, TWO, THREE was more of a French farce than a screw-ball comedy. The Cold War references would go over most Millennials’s heads.

  5. Art Scott

    I certainly liked the film as a kid, and I still remember the scene in the seedy cabaret with the singer doing “Yes, We Have No Bananas” in German.


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