Budapest Journal: One Two Three

 

My last night in Budapest was terrific. At a remarkably preserved 1930’s Art Deco movie house on the Buda side of town, the Danube Institute held a screening of Billy Wilder’s breakneck comedy One Two Three.

It’s a Cold War comedy, set in 1961 before the Wall came up — awkwardly, the Berlin Wall was constructed during the filming, requiring the entire unit to decamp to Munich to finish the shoot. And it’s about as politically incorrect as imaginable. James Cagney stars in what was to be his final film, until the small role in Ragtime 20 years later.

The one-sheet was designed by the great Saul Bass:

123

But equal billing must be given to the gorgeous theater:

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The highlight, for me, was the discussion afterwards. It’s quite a thing to be discussing Cold War politics and culture with an audience for whom it’s not an abstraction.

 

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  1. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    One, Two, Three is one of my (and JoALT’s) favorite movies. Turning the rabid communist in the son of a aristocrat and son-in-law of an arch capitalist – priceless.

    Best line, “Actually, the situation is hopeless, but not serious.”

    • #1
  2. user_6236 Member
    user_6236
    @JimChase

    Awesome movie.  And the chance to see it on a big screen?  I’m jealous.

    • #2
  3. user_96427 Contributor
    user_96427
    @tommeyer

    Great movie. :)

    • #3
  4. user_442638 Member
    user_442638
    @JohnPresnall

    Maurice Zolotow’s Billy Wilder in Hollywood relates an amusing story of Cold War cultural politics. At an official screening of Wilder’s The Apartment in East Germany, the communists in the audience loved the movie seeing it as a critique of capitalism. To them it depicted the true conditions of capitalist exploitation with its characters of an office drudge Jack Lemon and a prostituted Shirley MacLaine. An official spokesman said that the film could have only taken place in a capitalist city like New York. Wilder responded by saying that the film’s plot was universal and could happen in any city in the world except for Moscow. The audience applauded. But why was that? Wilder said that it couldn’t happen in Moscow because nobody had his own apartment there!

    • #4
  5. user_131681 Member
    user_131681
    @JohnAPeabody

    I love One, Two, Three. Like the best screwball comedies, the humor is very topical. You must be of a certain age to enjoy the references to Huntley-Brinkley, Willy Brandt, and, of course, the “Itsy-Bitsy-Teenie-Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini”.

    • #5
  6. user_5186 Member
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    John Presnall:

    Maurice Zolotow’s Billy Wilder in Hollywood relates an amusing story of Cold War cultural politics. At an official screening of Wilder’s The Apartment in East Germany, the communists in the audience loved the movie seeing it as a critique of capitalism. To them it depicted the true conditions of capitalist exploitation with its characters of an office drudge Jack Lemon and a prostituted Shirley MacLaine. …

     That really dates the film because by the end of the USSR no one believed in the Communist critique of capitalism in any way. Wow, real live believing commies! Hard to believe they really existed at one time. (The most gullible people in history.)

    • #6
  7. user_442638 Member
    user_442638
    @JohnPresnall

    Larry K., I’m sure you’ve seen the film The Lives of Others, which is a haunting depiction of the evils of communist “gullibility” in East Germany in the 1970s (or it may take place the ’80s since communism had a way to “end” history for the worst making it almost impossible to date. Those cars were simply retrograde!). Wilder, on the other hand, was speaking in 1961.

    • #7
  8. Devereaux Member
    Devereaux
    @Devereaux

    One of my all time favorites. I saw it when it originally came out, and watch it whenever I get the chance. I love the opening scene where Cagney gets out of his auto while his German driver, like a metronome, opens doors, including running UP the stairs to meet the elevator and open the door.

    There are so many great lines you risk missing some because of laughing at the preceding ones.

    • #8
  9. user_5186 Member
    user_5186
    @LarryKoler

    John Presnall:

    Larry K., I’m sure you’ve seen the film The Lives of Others, which is a haunting depiction of the evils of communist “gullibility” in East Germany in the 1970s (or it may take place the ’80s since communism had a way to “end” history for the worst making it almost impossible to date. Those cars were simply retrograde!). Wilder, on the other hand, was speaking in 1961.

    Yes, I have seen that film! Fantastic and very insightful. Thanks for the reminder — I think I should get it again and watch it.

    • #9
  10. Kozak Member
    Kozak
    @Kozak

    Mainly to Rob, but anyone else with info please feel free.
    I have one, maybe 2 days in Budapest this July. What are absolute have to do places, meals etc to see in that time frame for a Ricochetti ?

    Thanks in advance…

    • #10
  11. CygnusA81 Member
    CygnusA81
    @

    Not to sound sober, but was the Jobbik party brought while you were there Rob?

    Because as a Jewish person, I would not feel safe walking the streets of Budapest right now.

    • #11

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