As a avid cinema consumer and Italian student I have experienced many forms of cinematic display from the 1960’s ranging from Fellini’s plays and documentaries to unseen directors cuts from Pasolini’s La Dolce vita. The messages conveyed in movies of this era vary but almost always touch upon the delicate political situations of the time. One, Two, Three by Billy Wilder is no exception, I found myself laughing and even commiserating with the storyline as the gradual take over of consumer capitalism in the movie is still so applicable to life today, while a rather over exaggerated and unrealistic situation is displayed the overarching themes of the movie hit at a deeply political and unstable aspect of the world at that time.
Small details of the movie that were meant to be funny or silly really stuck out to me as significant indicators of capitalism, its effects on people and the political situation, the names of certain expensive clothing items in the escalation dressing scene that could be tied to certain negative or unallied countries along with the sheer absurdity and frivolity of the transformation scene in general. The significance of the German secretary and her sexualization, exploitation, and commodification by both the Americans and the Russians ties into the political and economic atmosphere and the real punchline of the entire movie, the pepsi bottle in the vending machine bought by the Coca Cola man just seals the deal for me. I felt like it accurately demonstrated the excess, extreme and competitive nature of capitalism even in divided Germany during the Cold War.
As one of my classmates pointed out in their blog post One, two, three, four, five six…. the movie does run extremely long and maybe as they said, 45 mins too long but if we refer to the reading by Pells we are given an insight into the cinematic mood of this time period which would not have necessarily agreed. Movie goers were eager for European movies and European based movies as there was a shift in the demand right around the time of the production of One, Two, Three. While it did not do well at the box office it is a prime example of the cinematic displays of the time, all at once a political satire, comedic show and love story while it’s supremely quick paced actions gave the audience a hard and fast political slap in the face. The movie accurately demonstrates the audiences desire for a break from reality, i.e. length, while still giving them the satire and politics of the time period.
Ironically the building of the Berlin Wall disrupted production of the movie and makes the film an even more significant historical piece to us, capturing both the political and social climates of the 1960’s and forever recording it in black and white. I would love to know if the director of the film had any idea of the political upset about to occur and how his movie was influenced by the building of the Berlin Wall. Did he have any idea of the effects the wall would have or how long it would scar the face of Berlin and it’s people and how relevant his movie would be to capitalism today?