In his last starring film (it was supposed to be his last film, but Ragtime came along in 1981), James Cagney plays Coca-Cola executive C.R. MacNamara. Assigned to manage Coke’s West Berlin office, MacNamara dreams of being transferred to London, and to do this he must curry favor with his Atlanta-based boss, Hazeltine (Howard St. John). Thus, MacNamara agrees to look after Hazeltine’s dizzy, impulsive daughter, Scarlett (Pamela Tiffin), during her visit to Germany. Weeks pass, and on the eve of Hazeltine’s visit to West Berlin, Scarlett announces that she’s gotten married. Even worse, her husband is a hygienically challenged East Berlin Communist named Otto Piffl (Horst Buchholz). The crafty MacNamara arranges for Piffl to be arrested by the East Berlin police and to have the marriage annulled, only to discover that Scarlett is pregnant. In rapid-fire “one, two, three” fashion, MacNamara must arrange for Piffl to be released by the Communists and successfully pass off the scrungy, doggedly anti-capitalist Piffl as an acceptable husband for Scarlett. MacNamara must accomplish this in less than 12 hours, all the while trying to mollify his wife (Arlene Francis), who has learned of his affair with busty secretary Ingeborg (Lilo Pulver). –MSN Movies
Originally planning to become a lawyer, Billy Wilder abandoned that career in favor of working as a reporter for a Viennese newspaper, using this experience to move to Berlin, where he worked for the city’s largest tabloid. He broke into films as a screenwriter in 1929, and wrote scripts for many German films until Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. Wilder immediately realized his Jewish ancestry would cause problems, so he emigrated to Paris, then the US. Although he spoke no English when he arrived in Hollywood, Wilder was a fast learner, and thanks to contacts such as Peter Lorre (with whom he shared an apartment), he was able to break into American films. His partnership with Charles Brackett started in 1938 and the team was responsible for writing some of Hollywood’s classic comedies, including Ninotchka (1939) and Ball of Fire (1941). The partnership expanded into a producer-director one in 1942, with Brackett producing, and the two turned out such classics… read more
what else can i expect from a billy wilder comedy other than for it to be hilariously clever?