One, Two, Three (1961)

108 mins | Comedy | 15 December 1961

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HISTORY

The Mirisch Company, Inc. acquired film rights to Ferenc Molnár’s play, Egy, ketto, három (One, Two, Three), as announced in the 3 Jan 1958 DV, with Billy Wilder set to write and direct the adaptation. Although a 7 Jun 1960 LAT article stated that Wilder would film an adaptation of the French musical, Irma La Douce (1963, see entry), before One, Two, Three, the Molnár adaptation ultimately took precedence.
       Egy, ketto, három, first staged in 1929, follows the young daughter of a Scandinavian businessman who falls in love and marries a Socialist taxicab driver while vacationing in Paris, France. The girl’s Parisian host, a banker and friend of the family, then scrambles to “make the cab driver acceptable to the father-in-law,” according to a 12 Jan 1961 NYT article. Wilder, who saw the play performed in Berlin, Germany, circa 1930, planned to “throw out Molnár’s dialogue, even the title,” and set the action in 1961 to incorporate up-to-date jokes inspired by contemporary newspaper headlines. He and co-writer I. A. L. Diamond relocated the story to Berlin, then divided between Communist East Germany and the republic of West Germany. The daughter in the screenplay became the child of a Coca-Cola Company executive, and her romantic interest an East German “beatnik.” An article in the 5 Dec 1961 NYT credited One, Two, Three as being one of the rare Hollywood films that dared portray “any aspect of Soviet life” in the Cold War era, but Wilder insisted, “We are not trying to explore the political situation in depth. We are just trying to ... More Less

The Mirisch Company, Inc. acquired film rights to Ferenc Molnár’s play, Egy, ketto, három (One, Two, Three), as announced in the 3 Jan 1958 DV, with Billy Wilder set to write and direct the adaptation. Although a 7 Jun 1960 LAT article stated that Wilder would film an adaptation of the French musical, Irma La Douce (1963, see entry), before One, Two, Three, the Molnár adaptation ultimately took precedence.
       Egy, ketto, három, first staged in 1929, follows the young daughter of a Scandinavian businessman who falls in love and marries a Socialist taxicab driver while vacationing in Paris, France. The girl’s Parisian host, a banker and friend of the family, then scrambles to “make the cab driver acceptable to the father-in-law,” according to a 12 Jan 1961 NYT article. Wilder, who saw the play performed in Berlin, Germany, circa 1930, planned to “throw out Molnár’s dialogue, even the title,” and set the action in 1961 to incorporate up-to-date jokes inspired by contemporary newspaper headlines. He and co-writer I. A. L. Diamond relocated the story to Berlin, then divided between Communist East Germany and the republic of West Germany. The daughter in the screenplay became the child of a Coca-Cola Company executive, and her romantic interest an East German “beatnik.” An article in the 5 Dec 1961 NYT credited One, Two, Three as being one of the rare Hollywood films that dared portray “any aspect of Soviet life” in the Cold War era, but Wilder insisted, “We are not trying to explore the political situation in depth. We are just trying to entertain and not stir up trouble.” Nevertheless, I. A. L. Diamond stated in the 17 Dec 1961 NYT that he and Wilder listened to coverage of the ongoing “Berlin crisis” on the American Forces Network every morning before going to set, and at night, they read the international edition of NYT before updating the script to include current events and political/military personnel changes.
       A 6 Jun 1960 LAT item noted that Wilder promised Hope Holiday, whom he had recently cast in The Apartment (1960, see entry), a role in One, Two, Three. At the time, filming was expected to take place in Paris, France. The following year, a 9 Feb 1961 DV brief claimed that William Morris agent Phil Kellogg had initiated talks for Anita Ekberg to star. Beverly Hills art dealer Frank Pearls was said to be making his acting debut in the role of a “swank jeweler,” according to a 28 Jul 1961 LAT item, and Jack Lemmon was set to appear in a cameo role, as announced in the 5 Feb 1961 NYT. Tony Curtis, Lemmon’s co-star in Wilder’s Some Like It Hot (1959, see entry), was also under consideration to play a woman Lemmon chased after, according to the 24 May 1961 DV. However, scheduling conflicts arose, and the 14 Aug 1961 LAT reported that Lemmon had been replaced by Red Buttons in the role of “MP sergeant.”
       Principal photography began 5 Jun 1961 in West Berlin. On the same day in Los Angeles, CA, two other Mirisch films began shooting, according to an 11 Apr 1961 DV brief: The Children’s Hour (1961, see entry) and Follow That Dream (1962, see entry). West Berlin locations included restored sections of the Kurfürstendamm, the Siegessäule, the Tiergarten, and the Coca-Cola bottling plant, as noted in a 16 Jul 1961 NYT article. One scene was scheduled to be shot on the East Berlin side of the Brandenburg Gate, depicting Horst Buchholz’s character, “Otto Ludwig Piffl,” on a motorcycle with a balloon attached, riding into Soviet-controlled territory. However, as stated in the 14 Jul 1961 LAT, filming was shut down after one day when guards noticed the message on the balloon reading, “Russki Go Home!” The scene was re-shot at Bavaria Studios, where the Brandenburg Gate was recreated by art director Alexander Trauner. Wilder indicated that the “joke” on the balloon cost the production $200,000 by necessitating the re-shoot.
       Filming moved from West Berlin to Bavaria Studios in Munich on 12 Jun 1961, according to a DV item published the following day. There, a large “city of rubble” fashioned after East Berlin was constructed, as noted in the 14 Aug 1961 DV. The set was later used in Escape from East Berlin (1962, see entry), according to a 1 Aug 1962 LAT item. In late Aug 1961, principal photography was halted due to injuries incurred by Horst Buchholz, who was in an automobile accident off set. The shoot resumed on 16 Oct 1961 at the Samuel Goldwyn Studio lot in Hollywood, CA, where a replica of the Berlin Tempelhof Airport was built. The 18 Oct 1961 DV announced the end of filming that day.
       According to a 19 May 1961 DV column, graphic designer Saul Bass created a symbol to be used on promotional materials that entailed a Coca-Cola bottle “with a hand at the cap holding a U.S. flag.” However, advertisements that ran the week the film was released, including an ad in the 26 Dec 1961 NYT, featured different artwork, showing a woman’s hand holding three balloons that read “One, Two, Three.” Although Mirisch vice president Leon Roth had met with Coca-Cola executives in Atlanta, GA, on his way to visit the set, according to a 19 Jul 1961 DV news brief, publicist Tom Wood was quoted in the 18 Jul 1961 LAT as saying that Coca-Cola had “no tie-up” with the picture, but Wilder chose to portray the company partly to fulfill a promise he had made to give them equal screen time after featuring Pepsi-Cola prominently in Love in the Afternoon (1957, see entry). The 14 Mar 1962 Var noted that while American Coca-Cola executives were happy with the free publicity, many European Coca-Cola bottlers with Communist patrons were upset by the picture’s “poking fun at the Communists.”
       The picture was released on 15 Dec 1961 at the Paramount Theater in Los Angeles, and the following week in New York City, in time for Academy Award consideration. One Academy Award nomination went to Daniel Fapp for Best Cinematography. According to the 14 Aug 1961 DV, Fapp had been called in as a replacement for a Swedish cinematographer who was fired after microphones and microphone shadows appeared in dailies.
       Golden Globe Award nominations were given for Best Picture – Comedy, and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in Any Motion Picture (Pamela Tiffin). More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
3 Jan 1958
p. 9.
Daily Variety
9 Feb 1961
p. 11.
Daily Variety
11 Apr 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
20 Apr 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 May 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 May 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
5 Jun 1961
p. 11.
Daily Variety
12 Jun 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
13 Jun 1961
p. 3.
Daily Variety
22 Jun 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
19 Jul 1961
p. 15.
Daily Variety
14 Aug 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
4 Oct 1961
p. 4.
Daily Variety
18 Oct 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Oct 1961
p. 7.
Daily Variety
29 Nov 1961
p. 3, 13.
Daily Variety
20 Dec 1961
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
6 Jun 1960
Section D, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
7 Jun 1960
p. 25.
Los Angeles Times
14 Jul 1961
p. 25.
Los Angeles Times
18 Jul 1961
Section C, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
28 Jul 1961
Section A, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
14 Aug 1961
Section C, p. 9.
Los Angeles Times
31 Aug 1961
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
8 Sep 1961
Section A, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
8 Dec 1961
Section C, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
15 Dec 1961
Section C, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
1 Aug 1962
Section D, p. 13.
New York Times
12 Jan 1961
p. 22.
New York Times
5 Feb 1961.
---
New York Times
16 Jul 1961.
---
New York Times
5 Dec 1961
p. 49.
New York Times
17 Dec 1961.
---
New York Times
21 Dec 1961
p. 33.
New York Times
22 Dec 1961
p. 17.
New York Times
26 Dec 1961
p. 18.
Variety
14 Mar 1962
p. 15.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
2nd unit dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Assoc prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
MUSIC
Mus adpt & cond
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Prod mgr
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Egy, ketto, három ( One, Two, Three ) by Ferenc Molnár (Budapest, 1929).
DETAILS
Release Date:
15 December 1961
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 15 December 1961
New York opening: 21 December 1961
Production Date:
5 June--late August/early September 1961
re-shoots 16--18 October 1961
Copyright Claimant:
Mirisch Co.
Copyright Date:
18 December 1961
Copyright Number:
LP21926
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
108
Countries:
Germany (West), United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

C. R. MacNamara, a fast-talking Coca-Cola sales representative in West Berlin, is attempting to introduce the beverage behind the Iron Curtain, hopeful that such a coup will result in his promotion to head of European operations. His hopes are dashed, however, when he learns that his company is not interested in dealing with the Russians; instead, he is ordered to chaperone his boss's daughter, seventeen-year-old Scarlett Hazeltine, during her two-week stay in Berlin. The girl's visit ultimately lasts two months, in which time she secretly marries Otto Ludwig Piffl, a beatnik Communist from East Berlin. MacNamara learns the horrifying news at the same time he receives word that Hazeltine is arriving in West Berlin the next day. Frantic, MacNamara plants on Otto a copy of the Wall Street Journal, which gets him arrested by the East German police. After arranging to have the marriage certificate removed from official files, MacNamara learns that Scarlett is pregnant; aware that he must present Hazeltine with an ideal son-in-law, MacNamara gets Otto out of the East Berlin jail, buys him a royal title, and converts him into a well-groomed capitalist. He is so successful that Hazeltine decides that Otto is the man to head Coca-Cola's European operations; MacNamara must settle for a vice-presidency in the Atlanta ... +


C. R. MacNamara, a fast-talking Coca-Cola sales representative in West Berlin, is attempting to introduce the beverage behind the Iron Curtain, hopeful that such a coup will result in his promotion to head of European operations. His hopes are dashed, however, when he learns that his company is not interested in dealing with the Russians; instead, he is ordered to chaperone his boss's daughter, seventeen-year-old Scarlett Hazeltine, during her two-week stay in Berlin. The girl's visit ultimately lasts two months, in which time she secretly marries Otto Ludwig Piffl, a beatnik Communist from East Berlin. MacNamara learns the horrifying news at the same time he receives word that Hazeltine is arriving in West Berlin the next day. Frantic, MacNamara plants on Otto a copy of the Wall Street Journal, which gets him arrested by the East German police. After arranging to have the marriage certificate removed from official files, MacNamara learns that Scarlett is pregnant; aware that he must present Hazeltine with an ideal son-in-law, MacNamara gets Otto out of the East Berlin jail, buys him a royal title, and converts him into a well-groomed capitalist. He is so successful that Hazeltine decides that Otto is the man to head Coca-Cola's European operations; MacNamara must settle for a vice-presidency in the Atlanta office. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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