Billy Wilder movies feel like track meets. The dialogue is Usain Bolt-quick, and scenes buzz with short-burst intensity, flinging wordplay with Olympic precision. But where the 1959 screwball classic Some Like It Hot mixed mania with lovable performances by Jack Lemmon, Tony Curtis, and Marilyn Monroe, and 1960’s The Apartment combined comedy and drama in finely measured amounts, 1961’s One, Two, Three is all whip-crack fury. This Cold War comedy is set in West Berlin and stars James Cagney as Mac MacNamara, a bitter Coca-Cola executive. Cagney’s rapid-fire deadpan delivery is the opposite of Lemmon and Curtis’ rubber-faced acting, but there’s plenty of laughs to be found. (“You fell in love with Khrushchev?”) While Cagney’s stern stoicism suits his character and sets the stage for MacNamara’s transformation into a warm-hearted soul, it can also be as exhausting as a 400-meter sprint—and sometimes as rewarding.
The film shows at 9:20 p.m. at AFI Silver Theatre, 8633 Colesville Road, Silver Spring. $11. 301-495-6720.