C.R. “Mac” MacNamara (James Cagney) is a high-ranking executive in the Coca-Cola Company, assigned to West Berlin after a business fiasco a few years earlier in the Middle East (about which he is still bitter). While based in West Germany for now, Mac is angling to become head of Western European Coca-Cola Operations, based in London. After working on an arrangement to introduce Coke into the Soviet Union, Mac receives a call from his boss, W.P. Hazeltine, at the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta. Scarlett Hazeltine, the boss’s hot-blooded but slightly dim 17-year-old socialite daughter, is coming to West Berlin. Mac is assigned the unenviable task of taking care of this young whirlwind.
The undiscussed and “latent content” of this zany comedy is very serious.
There are three fundamental choices for a country:
- Class war (Communism, Eastern Bloc, Russia).
- Race war (Nazis, Germany, fascism).
- Cola war (Coke versus Pepsi, USA, business civilization).
The implicit message of the movie, which constitutes a kind of ultimate political science lesson, is that cola wars (i.e., corporate competition for sales and profits and markets worldwide) is the best choice, no matter that it seems manic and empty, since the alternatives on the list of three options are impractical nightmares which lead to calamities and historical catastrophes.
The basic book describing the cola wars factually is: The Cola Wars: The Story of the Global Battle between the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, Inc., J.C. Louis & Harvey Z. Yazijian, Everest House, October 1, 1980.