Tuesday, February 26, 2013

One Two Three

One Two Three
seen @ Landmark Loews Jersey theater, Jersey City, NJ

When I still drunk soda on a regular basis, I was a Pepsi drinker. As a kid, drinking soda went hand in hand with redeeming the empty bottles for cash. There was a tiny bodega a couple of blocks from our house that accepted empty bottles, and my parents places the responsibility burden of redeeming them on me. While it was always great to get free money, especially when you're young, I hated having to be the one to gather all the bottles, stuff them into a garbage bag, and schlep them down the street.

I remember, of course, when New Coke came out, but since I didn't regularly drink old Coke, I wasn't as indignant as everybody else was over this new flavor. I did try it, but I certainly don't remember now how it tasted. Back in the 80s, for awhile it really did seem as if your choice between Pepsi or Coke said something about you personally, though that was probably just the result of clever marketing - and we as kids were certainly susceptible. 

Therefore, I remained loyal to Pepsi in the face of all this New Coke hype, though I will say I thought Coke had the better commercials.

The only Pepsi commercial from the 70s/80s that I can recall at the moment was the Michael Jackson one, and of course, that's mostly because of the accident he got into while filming it. There was even a playground rhyme that grew out of it (please forgive the political incorrectness): "I pledge allegiance to the flag/Michael Jackson is a fag/Pepsi-Cola burned him up/Now he's drinking 7-Up." How do these things get started, anyway?

When I spent the summer of 1993 in Spain, I drank Coke. At the time, they sold Coke in tallboy cans, which I had never seen in America before, so I suppose the novelty of it appealed to me as much as anything else. (I should've remembered to save a can; it would've been in Spanish.) Of course, I also drank a lot of bottled water too, since we were told not to drink the local water.

I certainly drank other sodas too. I loved Sunkist, which was great on a hot summer day. Their commercial re-wrote the Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" and now I can't hear the original without thinking about Sunkist. The "un-cola," 7-Up, had that commercial with that guy from Live and Let Die, Geoffrey Holder, but something about the way he said "The Un-Colaaaaaaaa!!" was funny and kinda weird.

Shea Stadium used to serve RC Cola, which I hated! It was always flat and didn't have the same kind of punch as Pepsi or even Coke for that matter, but you needed something to go with your hot dogs and pretzels, and I was too young for beer.

While living in Columbus, my eating and drinking habits changed slightly. I don't recall if it was a conscious decision to cut down on soda, but I think it must have been. Certainly Max was a subtle influence. He's a generally healthier eater than I am, and while I bought my own groceries, I'm fairly sure that his example rubbed off on me a bit. So I would buy juice and punch for myself, and I've stuck with that ever since. I did, however, acquire a small craving for Dr. Pepper.

So soda has never been completely cut out of my life and I doubt it ever will, though I have weaned myself away from Pepsi in recent years. I find that odd, since as I said, I was such a die-hard Pepsi drinker for so long. I guess that's just how people change.

It's Coca-Cola, however, that's part of the story in One Two Three. I've already written about what growing up under the Cold War was like, and I've paid homage to Jimmy Cagney as well. I'd only seen thi film one other time, and I had forgotten how funny it was. Maybe it had to do with seeing it with an audience, but I was busting a gut laughing at this one! Plus, Billy Wilder shot it HUGE. It's got to be the same dimensions as The Apartment, his film prior to this, and indeed, the two share a few of the same compositions in places.

In Cameron Crowe's book Conversations with Wilder, Wilder indicates that while he liked One Two Three, he didn't consider it among his very best. Still, he gave Cagney all the credit for making the film work like it did:
...we had to go with Cagney because Cagney was the picture. He really had the rhythm, and that was very good. It was not funny. But just the speed was funny. The speed was very good, how Cagney figured it out. The general idea was, let's make the fastest picture in the world, and give the actors, in order to make it seem fast, some slower scenes too. But that went very, very well.
Wilder goes on to compare Cagney's rapid-fire delivery to that of Edward G. Robinson in Double Indemnity, especially in the scene where he describes all the suicide possibilities.

I had no problems getting to the Loews this time around; the PATH train service was restored to normal weeks ago. Speaking of the Loews, by the by, you need to check out this article about one of the Loews' sister theaters from back in the day, the Valencia, here in Queens. It's now a church, but the original architecture and design has been faithfully kept up and it looks remarkable.

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