East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Monday, November 13, 2006

Canonball #951: One, Two, Three

USA, 1961
Starring James Cagney, Horst Buchholz, Pamela Tiffin
Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, from a play by Ferenc Molnar
Directed by Billy Wilder

The Wilder/Diamond script is not just their worst, it's atrocious, with the trivialisation of politics less offensive than the staleness of the gags. The movie features the infamous line in which the Russian delegate complains about a shipment of Swiss cheese because it was full of holes: most of the jokes are on this level. Yet Wilder and especially Cagney make the picture amusing through sheer density. Paced by the "Sabre Dance", Wilder slings gags so fast that you eventually have to laugh at the least bad ones. Cagney employs a quintessentially American technique: if you have nothing to say, shout it. The Commies never stood a chance.



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