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ONE, TWO, THREE

ONE, TWO, THREE ($20) is co-writer/director Billy Wilder’s frenetic comic masterwork about a savvy Coca-Cola executive assigned to the company office in West Berlin. Hollywood legend James Cagney has a field day in the role C.R. MacNamara, who knows how to play hardball with the communists and an entirely different game with his beautiful secretary, especially with his wife and kids are scheduled to take an extended holiday in Italy. Unfortunately for MacNamara, his private vacation with his secretary goes out the window when his boss from the home office in Atlanta saddles him with babysitting his teenage daughter, who will be visiting in West Germany.

As it turns out, southern belle Scarlett Hazeltine (Pamela Tiffin) is something of a wild child, with MacNamara managing to keep her out of trouble during her extended two-month visit- or so he thinks. Just as his boss announces that he is coming to Germany to pick up his daughter, MacNamara discovers that Scarlett has been sneaking out every night into East Berlin. To make matters even worse, it turns out that Scarlett has married one Otto Ludwig Piffl (Horst Buchholz), a boy she met in the East, who turns out to be a card-carrying member of the communist party. What follows are MacNamara’s rapid fire machinations to not only hold on to his job, but to secure a promotion by turning the idealistic young communist into the perfect capitalist son-in-law—all in less than twenty four hours. The cast of ONE, TWO, THREE also features Arlene Francis, Howard St. John, Hanns Lothar, Leon Askin, Ralf Wolter Karl Lieffen and Lilo Pulver.

MGM Home Entertainment has made ONE, TWO, THREE available on DVD in a 2.35:1 wide screen presentation that has been enhanced for playback on 16:9 displays. This is a really nice black and white transfer that has been taken from a good quality film element. There are few blemishes or other signs of age to remind one that this movie is more than four decades old, but nothing worth complaining about. A grain structure is noticeable somewhat noticeable at various times throughout the course of the film, but is never excessive. The image itself is rather crisp and well defined, with only a few shots that come across as a bit soft looking. Blacks are nice and inky, while the whites appear crisp and clean. Grayscale is generally very good, with the picture producing quite a bit of nuance. Digital compression artifacts are usually very well camouflaged.

ONE, TWO, THREE features a fairly solid Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack. For the most part, the track is clean sounding without any serious evidence of background hiss or surface noise. Fidelity has some age related limitations, but the film’s musical content, which prominently features Aram Khachaturian’s The Sabre Dance, sounds perfectly fine when a bit of amplification is applied. Dialogue is crisply rendered and is always perfectly intelligible, that is, as long as the characters are speaking English. French and Spanish monaural soundtracks are also provided on the DVD, along with English, Spanish and French subtitles. The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a theatrical trailer.

ONE, TWO, THREE is a genuine comic delight and one of Billy Wilder’s funniest films. MGM has done a good job with the DVD, offering a good looking and fine sounding presentation. If you are a Wilder or Cagney fan, or a just a comedy buff in general, then you should definitely pick up a copy of ONE, TWO, THREE on DVD.

 

ONE, TWO, THREE 


One, Two, Three (1961)

ENHANCED FOR 16:9 TELEVISIONS 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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