Ideology II

film 3 of 5

One, Two, Three

Draft Review by Dean Duncan Jun 9, 2015

Exhausting, and off-putting at first, given the pan and scan, the unattractive types that were to dominate the second echelon of 60s pictures (Horst Bucholz, indeed), and the strain of Wilder/Diamond’s incipient vulgarity (I can see your goose pimples, double indeed), but the virtuosic last 30 or is it 45 minutes reminds one that farce isn’t always only loud and tiring, but is occasionally funny too, the way the labouriously planted strands all come together is, in the end, wondrous; the punning and quoting and rhyming and general referentiality is quite thick, and seems possibly to have been seminal as far as such stuff went in the popular US cinema, the Russian trade commission is more Ninotchka, though now they’re just dirty and infinitely corruptible old men (the admission by one that he’s been spying on the other two is funny), the Mother of Mercy is this the end crack is very funny because of its unexpectedness, but the grapefruit falls dead and the Cagney imitation doesn’t fare much better, the ’61 Berlin setting is very timely, of course, which is emphasized by sequences which have the form and effect of a documentary (cf. A Foreign Affair), as Cagney speaks for authors to guide audience through the physical and ideological landscape, and in connection the Coca Cola stuff puts a properly cynical commodified spin on those ideological pilings (the switches at the end become even better, given the context); Wagner’s Ride plays under the expedition into the eastern zone, both poking fun at the exaggerated feelings characters have about the importance of their meagre dealings, and doing the same for the standard, or at least formerly standard response to it, the hidden Nazis stuff–the stand-at-attention staff, Schlimme, his former commander now in the popular press–is very expertly and pointedly handled, and Cagney’s everything they say he is in his more or less last film