The Cold War on the eve of the building of the Berlin Wall may seem an unlikely subject for uproarious comedy, but Billy Wilder found a way to make it brutally funny in the 1961 movie, "One, Two, Three."
It helped to have James Cagney starring in one of his most successful comic roles -- as the harried Coca Cola executive in West Berlin, trying to get his product into the Communist bloc. Capitalists and Communists alike take a ribbing in this satirical look at divided Europe.
MIT's Center for International Studies will screen the film on Wednesday to launch its lecture series on Cold War Cinema, along with an expert's perspective. Journalist Christian Caryl, who covered the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, will discuss the film and its impact. Caryl is a contributing editor at Foreign Policy and at Newsweek, and is also a visiting fellow at CIS.
The free screening is at 6:30 p.m. in room 6-120 of MIT's Eastman Laboratories, street address, 182 Memorial Drive.
Making the movie was so demanding for Cagney that he quit Hollywood and didn't make another film for 20 years, until Ragtime in 1981. The film tells the yarn of Coke exec MacNamara's attempts to protect the boss's 17-year-old daughter during her visit to Berlin -- when she meets and secretly marries a young East German communist (Horst Buchholz). Multiple hijinks follow as MacNamara tries to pry them apart, then stitch them back together, much like East and West Germany in more recent years.
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
Is your organization holding an event? Post it on our calendar (use "worldlyboston" for the keyword).