One, Two, Three

Director: Billy Wilder

Cast: James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin, Arlene Francis, Howard St. John, Hanns Lothar, Leon Askin, Ralf Wolter, Karl Lieffen, Lilo Pulver, Hubert von Meyerinck, Lois Bolton, Peter Capell, Til Kiwe, Henning Schluter, Karl Ludwig Lindt, Red Buttons, John Allen, Helmut Schmid, Rose Renee Roth, Friedrich Hollaender, Werner Hessenland.

In 1961, at the height of the cold war, a Coca-Cola executive, C.R. McNamara (Cagney), is in West Berlin in search of a marketing coup. McNamara’s coveted transfer to the London office is in the hands of Wendell P. Hazeltine (St. John), his boss at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta. McNamara wants to open up the Soviet Union to Coca-Cola, knowing it will easily outsell its unsavory Russian substitute. To open up the Soviet Empire to corporate capitalism and big profits, he has been courting three Russian commissars, Peripetchikoff (Askin), Borodenko (Wolter) and Mishkin (Capell). He is assisted by his devoted and stunningly attractive secretary, Fraulein Ingeborg (Pulver). McNamara’s sensitive final negotiations to close the deal with the commissars are interrupted by the arrival of Hazeltine’s teenage daughter, Scarlett (Tiffin). Hazeltine asks McNamara to look after Scarlett, a somewhat dizzy southern belle on her first trip away from home. McNamara agrees, in order to advance his prospects with the company, but he remains focused on the Russian deal. When Hazeltine is about to arrive on a visit to West Berlin, Scarlett lets McNamara know that she has married an East German named Otto. A horrified McNamara soon learns that Otto Ludwig Piffl (Buchholz) is a grubby Communist, and has him arrested. Scarlett adds to this disaster by revealing that her liaison with Otto has resulted in her being pregnant. McNamara imagines his career spiraling into oblivion, and must take action to correct the Scarlett situation before Hazeltine’s arrival. He concocts a new plan and has Otto released from prison. With the help of his assistant, Schlemmer (Lothar), McNamara arranges a new aristocratic identity for Otto, and plans to pass him off as a prosperous young German capitalist and acceptable husband for Scarlett. The harried McNamara also has to contend with the arrival of his wife Phyllis (Francis), whom he has kept in the dark about Fraulein Ingeborg. McNamara’s carefully structured workplace starts to fall apart when his wife finds out about Fraulein Ingeborg and threatens divorce, and Otto’s erratic behavior and Scarlett’s sulking jeopardize his ability to hoodwink Hazeltine. Racing against the clock, McNamara struggles to pass Otto as a respectable husband, mollify his wife, and satisfy Scarlett and Fraulein Ingeborg. Screenplay by Billy Wilder and Itzek Diamond, based on Ferenc Molnar’s play Egy, Ketto, Harom.

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