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That's the way it crumbles...
gaityr24 March 2002
What a wonderful way to spend an evening--dinner, Christmas and New Year's with CC Baxter (Jack Lemmon) and 'friends', accompanied by much champagne and laughter, and spaghetti and meatballs lovingly prepared by the host himself. There's even a game of gin rummy to get into that Baxter and Fran can't ever seem to finish--here's hoping it never does!

THE APARTMENT is one of those truly classic classic movies--for one thing, it has an absolutely top-notch cast, featuring Jack Lemmon (at his wryly humourous best); Shirley MacLaine (a glowing screen presence); Fred MacMurray (smarm personified); and a younger Ray Walston (still wisecracking, still hilarious). They also benefit from a clever, perceptive and timelessly relevant script by Billy Wilder, under his capable direction. Though there are plenty of brilliant one-liners, the best of the dialogue feels true and real, which adds to the feeling that you've known Baxter et al for years. I loved the score to the movie as well, artfully attributed to the Rickshaw Boys and used to great effect.

There are so many good moments scattered throughout the film (I can't even begin to enumerate them all here!). A lot of them are little touches that must have been added by the actors themselves (Jack Lemmon humming as he prepares the meatball sauce is just *so* funny!). I love the madness of the Christmas party scene, and when Baxter's doctor-neighbour takes charge of the situation with Fran, slapping her awake and marching her around the living room. I also love it when Baxter first starts playing gin rummy with Fran, and she reveals how she has a talent for falling for the wrong guy all the time. Best of all, Lemmon makes such a believable, sweet pushover that you often want to shake him and hug him at the same time--the things he would do for Fran! It makes his final scene with MacMurray that much more satisfying for the audience.

If you see this gem of a movie on a video store shelf, or (even better) playing in the cinema, don't let it pass you by. Join Baxter, Fran, Mr. Sheldrake and everyone else, and have a great time!
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Becoming A Mensch
davidals21 January 2005
Ohhh - after my 4th or 5th viewing, I think this may be one of the most remarkable blends of comedy and drama to have ever been filmed - THE APARTMENT - in subtle ways - rises well above the conventions of any genre. It was my introduction to the great Billy Wilder, and my fondness for Jack Lemmon (a remarkable and sorely missed actor) begins here as well.


The cold take on the sex-and-money ethos to be found in many corporate environments hasn't dated one bit; it could be argued that THE APARTMENT stands a bit ahead of its' time in the depiction of (what would appear to be) educated employees treated like (and feeling like) tools to be used in generation of someone else's income. Lemmon's character never forgets that he's disposable, even if the optimist in him hopes that something better may be found in his superiors. Deep down he knows this to be a pipe dream - the sexual adventurism of those same superiors betrays their utter lack of ethics. Of course, Lemmon's character isn't entirely above it all; he's been more than willing to hire out his own apartment as a place for his colleagues' peccadilloes, in exchange for career advancement, which of course - as Wilder early on links amoral sexual conduct and professional/corporate/financial misconduct in a greater social critique - gets him into trouble.

The dialogue is - as is always true with Wilder - very finely crafted, yet seems natural - this film is a remarkable display of the kind of reactions any of us would offer in similar situations. Interestingly, our two protagonists are also wonderfully imperfect as human beings - Lemmon and MacLaine bear some responsibility for the very serious situations they've gotten themselves into; they manage to realize this ("Be a mensch!" Lemmon's doctor neighbor exclaims) just in time to set things right. MacLaine in particular delivers a remarkable, complex performance - sweet and smart in her earliest scenes, bleak and emotionally ravaged in her climactic scene with MacMurray, naive elsewhere, sharp but hopeful at the end. The cinematography captures the entire cast beautifully - with minimal movement, abundant long takes, and a sleek lack of visual clutter, all of the principals are free to reveal their own best and worst impulses, within an environment that is stripped of artifice. The end result is a film filled with great moments one can easily identify with.
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A rare gem, this is a blessedly adult comedy with great performances, great writing and the kind of depth hardly ever seen in the more vapid, formulaic romantic comedies of today.
cwelty115 October 2004
Written by the great filmmaker Billy Wilder, this is a serious, sardonic comedy for people who've known what's its like to feel the pressure of compromising your principles or your self- respect for the sake of getting ahead in life. And there are very few over the age of consent who haven't had to at one time or another. This isn't the laugh out loud comedy of Jim Carrey or the Farrelly brothers, but a subtle, nuanced comedy about two people who have both been jaded in love and yet continue to hope again and again that it will someday work out for them -- mainly because despite the unlikeable things they do, they are both basically decent, nice people. Flawed and even weak at times, but good people. This is a movie that doesn't just make it you laugh, it makes you think. A rare find indeed.
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Katmiss24 May 2001
Billy Wilder's "The Apartment is his greatest accomplishment. It is his most successful melding of comedy and drama that he never quite pulled off again. I'm glad the Academy had enough good taste to award Wilder The Triple Crown: Best Picture/Director/Screenplay. But they still had enough bad taste to deny Jack Lemmon a Best Actor award, Shirley MacLaine a Best Actress award and Fred MacMurray a nomination and award.

The plot this time: C.C. Baxter (Lemmon; in case you're wondering: "C for Calvin C for Clifford, but most people call me "Bud")lends out his apartment to executives for their extramarital trysts in the faint hope of a promotion. Eventually, his boss, Sheldrake (MacMurray, excellent in a rare straight role) finds out and wants the key for his own affairs. Meanwhile, Baxter has a crush on Miss Kubelik (MacLaine, in a strong performance)the elevator operator.

For those who accuse me of spoiling the whole movie: rest assured. This only covers the first 20 minutes or so of the 126 minute feature. Wilder has many twists and tricks up his sleeve and I'll leave you to discover what happens. What amazes me about "The Apartment" is that unlike most films, this isn't about the plot. It's a study in human nature and the mistakes they make. That is a strong trait of most Wilder films (including "Kiss Me, Stupid" and "The Fortune Cookie", both hilarious comedies with a hidden meaning)

Also the dialogue by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond isn't just one-liners (although they are funny; especially when spoken by Lemmon and Ray Walston)There is real heartfelt sentiment here and it isn't the syrupy kind that makes my stomach churn (as in films like "Patch Adams") Wilder allows enough to make his points and then gets back to comedy.

The cinematography is fabulous too. Wilder's film (as most of his 60s films) is in widescreen Black and White (shot by Joseph LaShelle, in Panavision; one of the most unsung and unrecognized cinematographers in history, he was nominated but lost) It has a crisp,clean look and is one of the few widescreen films that actually make the viewer feel confined in a tight space.

"The Apartment" is a superior example of the "serious comedy", films that work as both comedy and drama. Sadly, many of today's filmmakers have lost touch with this genre. I can't help but feel that the freedoms granted today that weren't in the 1950s and 60s haven't been an advance. They've been holding us back. Smart characters have lost way to stupid and oversexed ones. That's a real shame and it's high time we go back to our roots.

**** out of 4 stars
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Some Like it Dark - Wilder and Dark Comedy
jtmudge30 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
Billy Wilder knew how to make a great movie. Of course it helps to have one of the greatest all-time actors, Jack Lemon, play in your movies, but Lemon aside, Wilder was a genius. His gift for the comedic moment showed brilliantly on screen and reached deep inside the audience.

The Apartment, the last of the great Black and White films, showed a bit darker side to comedy than some of his other romps such as the hilarious Some Like It Hot. Some Like It Hot is just as funny today as it was in 1959. It is pure fun. At no point in the film are we approached with anything that we would take seriously. Let's face it, most of us are not running from the mob disguised as a member from the opposite sex.

The Apartment, however, brings up much more human themes and issues. Wilder is an expert and at no time does he leave you worried that it will turn out badly. This is, after all, a comedy. One mistake in the script and the movie could quickly become a deep film about suicide, loneliness, and peer pressure, but Wilder balances the subjects on the edge of a knife and allows us to smile at what could otherwise be a very depressing movie.

Wilder and his films like The Apartment are very similar to Shakespeare's comedies. It can be said that the difference between a Shakespeare comedy and tragedy is often not the story, but the ending. In a comedy, everyone is married; in a tragedy, everyone dies. the same is true with The Apartment, it all hinges on the outcomes. If Kubelik dies or Baxter is left alone, the movie would be a tragedy. But since they prevail in the end, the movie comes off as a great comedic success, albeit a bit dark.
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Likewise, it's a love-fest Lemmon-wise
moonspinner5528 June 2001
One of the finest examples of smart, satiric comedy-drama ever created for the screen. Jack Lemmon (in amazing comic form) plays a working stiff in Corporate America--via New York City--whose bachelor apartment inadvertently becomes a love-nest for amorous, married executives. The film is extremely modern for 1960 and features a non-stop barrage of funny, clever talk. Lemmon is a mad genius at frenzied (yet sympathetic) characterization, and "The Apartment" catches him at his professional peak in the movies. Working alongside huggable neurotic Shirley MacLaine (also at her peak) and shady Fred MacMurray (parlaying his slimeball role with curt persuasion), Lemmon creates a new kind of acting: screwball realism. **** from ****
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"I've Decided to Take My Doctor's Advice, I'm going to become a mensch."
bkoganbing14 June 2006
Warning: Spoilers
In the recent biography of Billy Wilder by Ed Sikov, it is mentioned that for the first time Wilder used as his protagonist a lovable loser. Think about it. In a whole lot of his previous films the main lead in Ace in the Hole, Double Indemnity, Stalag 17 are the people who are the takers as Shirley MacLaine describes Fred MacMurray here.

In The Apartment, it's the schnook that's took who the story focuses on. Jack Lemmon creates one of his immortal characters in C.C. Baxter, a minor cog in the machinery of the insurance company he works for.

Lemmon has maybe found a way to move up the corporate ladder, but it's driving him nuts. He lives on West 67 Street in Manhattan, a most convenient location for kanoodling. Only it isn't him that kanoodles. One time he allowed one of the middle level managers to use his apartment for a little nookie. One guy tells another and so on and so on and pretty soon Lemmon can't call his place his own.

In walks big boss Fred MacMurray to seemingly save the situation. But it turns out he only wants exclusive use for himself and he actually does vault Baxter several steps up the corporate ladder. And unfortunately MacMurray is currently kanoodling with elevator operator Shirley MacLaine who Lemmon has a thing for.

The Apartment was years ahead of its time in that it was one of the first major films to deal with sexual harassment. The whole group of middle executives Ray Walston, David Lewis, Willard Waterman, David White and the big cheese Fred MacMurray just look on that insurance company as one gigantic harem. As typical for 1960 note there are no women in any managerial positions at all.

Fred MacMurray almost didn't play Mr. Sheldrake. Paul Douglas was cast originally, but died suddenly just before shooting on The Apartment commenced. MacMurray stepped in and got great critical reviews for another effort with Billy Wilder as a heavy. MacMurray was also starting at this time a long run in the family comedy My Three Sons on television. There would be no more bad guys in his future.

Billy Wilder held out in casting for Jack Kruschen as Doctor Dreyfus the next door neighbor who is available to save Shirley MacLaine's life. The folks at United Artists were ready to sign Groucho Marx for the part. Wilder's faith in Kruschen was justified, he got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Peter Ustinov for Spartacus.

Lemmon and MacLaine were also nominated for the leads, but failed to win. But The Apartment was chosen Best Film of 1960 and Billy Wilder was Best Director.

Also look out for a biting performance by Edie Adams who really makes her role count as MacMurray's secretary and former flame. During a Christmas party she tips off MacLaine to MacMurray's philandering ways and then later on brings the house of cards all around Fred.

The Apartment is so timeless in so many ways although women in the workplace have made great strides in the last 46 years. One thing though that does show how dated it is. It's mentioned that Lemmon pays $94.00 a month, presumably rent controlled, for a one bedroom apartment in the West Sixties in Manhattan.

Now that is dated.
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I work on the 19th floor. Ordinary Policy Department, Premium Accounting Division, Section W, desk number 861…
Ford-kp13 April 2006
In the beginning of The Apartment we see C. C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) being lost in a sea of desks within a gigantic office room. He works for a huge New York insurance company employing over thirty thousand souls spread over twenty-seven floors. Sometimes he is working overtime; "It's not like I was overly ambitious..." Baxter tells us defensively. "You see, I have this little problem with my apartment… I can't always get in when I want to."

The reason are several superiors, to whom he is lending his apartment for their extra-marital escapades. In exchange they promise to give his career a push by passing recommendations to the personnel manager, Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray). Although Buddy Boy (that's his disrespectful yet firmly established nickname) is daily surrounded by hundreds of people, he is drowning in lonesomeness. Apart from his mocking colleagues, there does not seem to be any family or close friends. In fact, the only decent person among his acquaintances is his neighbour, Dr. Dreyfuss (Jack Kruschen), ironically under the wrong impression that the man next door is a womanizing drunkard.

So Baxter meekly adapts to the mercilessness of corporate life, putting all hopes of happiness into his career. His free evenings consist of watching TV, preparing dinner or cleaning up after the occupants of his apartment. Yes, one could say that Baxter does not exactly lead a joyful life.

Yet, there is something, or rather somebody carrying light into the loner's gloominess when he falls in love with the pretty elevator girl Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Although Fran likes him for his decency and kindness, she does not quite share the feelings of her ardent admirer. But Buddy Boy refuses to notice any signs of unrequited love and eventually talks her into going out with him. You can imagine how Baxter feels when she fails to turn up, and how things get significantly worse when he finds out that she is actually having intimate meetings with the personnel manager Mr. Sheldrake in HIS apartment. The image of purity Baxter had of Fran is gone. On Christmas Eve, he decides to drown his broken heart in a bar while his apartment is occupied by the cause of his misery. But Fran doesn't feel any happier than Baxter, and with the depressing effect Christmas can have on the lonesome and desperate, the story threatens to take a turn into tragedy...

It is hard to pin The Apartment on a single genre. The sharp, witty dialogue as well as Jack Lemmon's hilarious mimic would hint at a romantic comedy. Yet, one cannot overlook the tragic elements which let us dive into thoughtfulness, but never too deeply. Then again the film works on a satiric level, operating as cynical social commentary on corporate culture in the sixties (which is not very unlike today's business life). The remarkable thing about this film is that these three qualities merge perfectly into each other without ever losing the balance. The Apartment is a most entertaining picture, sometimes rushing from one hilarity to the next, and then suddenly slowing down to leave room for contemplation. Sometimes uplifting, sometimes depressing, sometimes both at the same time. Billy Wilder mixed these contrary moods, and most amazingly, it worked out just fine.

First and foremost The Apartment deals with loneliness and the everlasting search for unaccomplished love. "I used to live like Robinson Crusoe. I mean shipwrecked among 8 million people. And then one day I saw a footprint in the sand and there you were." Baxter tells Ms Kubelik. Does any relationship ever work out the way one dreamed it would? Additionally the film points out how people let themselves be treated badly out of total lack of self-esteem. Standing up for oneself and saying the simple word "no" can sometimes be an art of its own.

As an able filmmaker and scriptwriter (together with I. A. L. Diamond, "Some like it Hot"), Billy Wilder once again produced a film classic of outstanding quality. I have yet to see another picture, equally consistent at providing such humorous and well-timed dialogues. The amount of memorable quotes is remarkable and the entire cast did a terrific job at delivering them. Moreover, Wilder chose to shoot in black and white widescreen, shining with beautiful cinematography, and thereby gave the film a very special melancholy mood.

Maybe the greatest strength of The Apartment is its honesty. It doesn't lie to us by painting images of perfect love or of perfect people. Neither does it create scenarios of utter hopelessness. However, it shows us that although life can be unfair on default, everyone is responsible for oneself to work up the courage to achieve happiness. With the director's cynical, yet comic approach to life, the film takes itself serious and it doesn't. It lets us taste the bitter and the sweet, thereby lending itself a tone of reality. For that reason alone I don't feel cheated by The Apartment and its story never failed to cheer me up. Then again, I may be too much of a pessimistic optimist.
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Another Wilder classic
Primtime14 August 1999
Jack Lemmon is the man.

The Apartment really surprised me. The Best Picture winner starts off right in the middle of the action, but yet the first hour seems long and overrun. Too much time seems spent in trying to develop the characters (and oh so many of them) and not enough time is spent on just seeing what will happen. Just when I was about to lose faith, the film picks it up like I have never seen before. The whole sub-plot of the four guys wanting to use Lemmon's apartment for their evening tyrsts is dropped and Wilder smartly concentrates on Lemmon, MacLaine and MacMurray and the film creates true magic.

The Apartment is more of a drama than a comedy and balances the two elements perfectly. Just after one of the more dramatic moments of the film, we see Lemmon straining his pasta with a tennis racquet. The use of the doctor and his wife in supporting roles are completely there for comedy and yet add so much to the film. The ending also rates up there with the best of all time using an old device that doesn't seem at all cliched in this film. Some say that "Some like it hot" was Wilder's best, but now I have to disagree. The Apartment is better and surely would have made my top ten had the first hour not been so predictable.

How Jack Lemmon didn't win Best Actor is beyond me. His is a great performance, getting to act on more than one scale. MacMurray, another Wilder favourite is perfectly cast in the role of a family-wrecker. I wish they would have put a scene in which his wife confronts him with "The News". MacLaine glows on the screen even when she is sick and in bed.

I fully recommend this film to all, it being Wilder's best makes it a must see.

8/10 stars.
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The definitive movie for the comedy/drama genre
DukeofPearl13 January 1999
Billy Wilder's "The Apartment" is a film which can produce some of the biggest laughs and at the same time... can bring many viewers to tears, Billy Wilder's quaint little tale about everyday people who get tangled up in love, jealousy and infidelity boasts a top-notch cast led by the trio of Lemmon, MacLaine and MacMurray who are tremendous. The plot revolves around C.C. (Lemmon) who unknowingly makes the unethical attempt of climbing the corporate ladder by 'loaning' his apartment to members from his management chain to entertain their 'women on the side'. Given the change of circumstances, this premise certainly could even hit home in the current office environment. Although the office party and secretarial gossip scenes could be viewed as dated, the power and attitude of the corporate executive, Mr. Sheldrake (MacMurray) is certainly symbolic. The character of Fran (MacLaine) for today's standards of course seems too submissive and vulnerable but the reward of her finding true, admirable, unconditional companionship is quite enriching and fulfilling to any who see this memorable film.
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corporate sex ladder
RanchoTuVu7 September 2004
A struggling office worker in a giant insurance company lends his apartment to higher ups in order to get a promotion. Set during the Holidays, the theme of infidelity turned a lot of viewers off. The Holiday setting however is what provides a lot of the film's best scenes, as in the fantastic office Christmas party where the secretaries are doing a CanCan on the table and couples are making out in the corner. The one-two punch of Jack Lemmon's classic performance and that of Fred MacMurray is fabulous, and the triangle of sorts that forms with Shirley McClaine makes this much more than the comedy that it is known for.
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One Of the Finest Scripts Ever Written, and Jack Lemmon Creates One Of The Greatest Character Performances As The Wonderful C.C. Baxter
Det_McNulty27 October 2006
For me Billy Wilder has always been one of my all time favourite directors and he has not made a single film that has not appealed to me. Billy Wilder sums up perfection all his films manage to succeed in what they set out to do. Billy Wilder is not just one of the greatest directors; he is also one of the finest scriptwriters ever. Creating flowing dialogue like no other and perfectly making his actors and actresses work with the script brilliantly. Billy Wilder has made dark noirs, hilarious musicals and studies of human nature. It is extremely difficult to fully describe a director as versatile and genius as Billy Wilder. His films have held up for generations and will continue to have the same mass appeal that his films have had since their opening days.

On the surface The Apartment might seem like a comedy and yes that's what it is on the surface. Once you start watching The Apartment you realise that actually it is a very dark film underneath and actually has characters that contemplate suicide. The fact is that The Apartment captures the realism of the everyday workman and makes you laugh as well as feel pity. The script is what keeps the film moving and shows how the characters in The Apartment change as the film progresses. The Apartment is about becoming somebody rather than being something that someone uses.

Jack Lemmon creates C.C. Baxter the young aspiring workman who just wants to have a good career and the perfect woman. Though something always goes wrong and he's perfectly able to get a woman, but not the one he wants. At times you pity C.C. Baxter because he's so kind to everyone and never gets the thing he wants in return because something will always get in the way. I think there are times in every man's life where you probably feel like C.C. Baxter in one way or another.

Jack Lemmon perfectly progresses with his character to make himself one of the most distinguishable character actors ever. Jack Lemmon works with an elegant skill at comedic performances and always captures the true essence of his characters. He seems to be one of those actors who are able to find the perfect chemistry with his fellow cast. What makes C.C. Baxter so brilliant is the fact he stands for everything the film is about. He becomes one of the mot uplifting and joyous ever put on screen. Shirley MacLaine is also excellent as the lovable Fran Kubelik (C.C. Baxter's heartthrob). From first impressions you'd think she is a beautiful and happy women, but she's actually very different to what you might expect.

The script is fast paced, memorable and most of all it helps sum up all the characters so well. It's a script that works so easily with its actors and helps to make some of the most superb character situations. The script is realistic as well and actually does feel like the kind of talk that would be used in similar situations in life. The script is extremely natural and the subtle undertones prove Billy Wilder's crafting of intellectual film-making.

The film is actually very similar to that of its A Wonderful Life and you could say Jack Lemmon is very similar to that of James Stewart. The direction is simple and fulfilling. It captures the image of "the apartment" perfectly and though just like any other New York apartment it feels extremely likable and memorable. The film's use of music is another high point and feels perfectly hand picked for the scenes it's used in. The film is actually quite sexually vibrant and does have many sexual undertones in its dialogue. Though subtle, it definitely is there and perfectly helps add more subtext to the film as a whole. A film to be studied in depth and not just watched.

A film that never gets old and always manages to make the viewer feel uplifted with happiness. A first class example of perfected film-making you're ever going to see. Yes it's a definitive must-see, a masterpiece that was way ahead of its time and much more than just a movie.
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It's lost a step over time, but still satisfies even if it does not surprise
AlsExGal24 July 2015
This film was groundbreaking in the sense that it dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace in a way that was quite realistic for 1960. All the women are in menial jobs at the insurance company where Jack Lemmon's character works, and all of the executives are men. The executives look at their female workforce as one big harem and won't let a little thing like the fact that they are married and intend to stay that way interfere with their stepping out from time to time. This is where C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) comes in. He trades the use of his apartment to these executives in return for promotions and perks. However, Baxter has an attack of conscience when he comes face-to-face with the collateral damage that one of these executives is doing in the person of Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Fran, the elevator operator, has just found out she is one of many affairs for big boss Mr. Sheldrake (Fred McMurray), whom she genuinely loves, and when she and Sheldrake quarrel in Baxter's apartment and Sheldrake leaves her some money for her troubles, unintentionally making her feel even cheaper than she already feels she swallows a bottle of sleeping pills hoping not to wake up, slipping into a coma on Baxter's bed.

Things I noticed - this film has lost something with the passage of time in the shock value that was, I think, part of the original appeal. But it still has some outstanding acting, some personal redemption and transformation that people just love to see on film, and kudos to Mr. McMurray for portraying an authentic heel, leading women on and leading a double life without a tinge of conscience, phoning to inquire about his mistress' health on Christmas Day as he is busy playing with his children at home. Without this entry under his belt I would have always doubted his range as he was the perennial nice guy in almost every other role he ever had.

Did you also notice a business world and a New York that is gone forever? Nobody adds numbers by hand - or by computer for that matter - any more, elevators have long been run by machines, and the entire floor of people that Baxter worked on would today be replaced by computers. Also notice that Baxter has a very middling job - at least at first - and yet lives comfortably sans roommate to share expenses in an apartment IN Manhattan. Those were the days.
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Light comedy with a darkness underneath
Red-Barracuda10 December 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Baxter, an office worker, makes his apartment available to philandering executives at his office in order to move up the corporate ladder. Things become complicated when his boss takes an elevator girl Baxter has taken a shine to back to his pad.

In this Billy Wilder film, Jack Lemmon is on hand with another effective comic performance. He seemed to be good at playing under-dog characters .We root for him here even though we know he is a bit of a weasel that bends over backwards for unlikable bosses. It's testament to Lemmon's charisma that we are never in doubt that he is a sympathetic character. He is more than matched by Shirley Maclaine here as the elevator girl, though. She was an elfin beauty and it's very easy to understand Baxter's infatuation with her. She is probably the best thing in this film to be honest. Her character undergoes the most extreme story arc, where she veers from comic scenes to an attempted suicide. It's because of this especially that The Apartment is a light film that has some pretty dark undercurrents. The central plot-line was pretty racy stuff for its time as well, with the apartment of the title being a den of iniquity and vice. But on the whole it's pretty light-hearted despite this. But it's often when it gets darker that it gets more interesting, the whole post-suicide attempt sequence was probably the best part of the film. The drama often outweighs the comedy in this one. While it is a romantic comedy, it's not really full of laughs and the plot-line is more melancholic a lot of the time. It also displays a definite cynicism towards the practices of big business in their carefree immorality and misogyny. It's probably a little overlong in fairness and some of the side characters and comedy don't add too much. But overall it's good enough, if perhaps a little over-rated.
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They don't make 'em like this anymore
markdroulston15 June 2011
Billy Wilder's The Apartment was one of a huge list of movies that are considered classics which I haven't seen, and indeed knew very little about (other than the level of admiration which many people have for it). Having a vague knowledge of the stars of the film (Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine), for one reason or another I was expecting a light-hearted comedy filled with innuendo and witty banter, a tradition of filmmaking that was common around the period when this film was released. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed, as these elements are all in play in The Apartment, but what really thrilled and surprised me was the much more serious subject matter that the film deals with. To say this is simply a comedy is completely false, as it's a somewhat dark and daring study of the nature of love and infidelity, and the stunning performances and filmmaking on display had me enthralled from the first frame.

The film certainly begins as a comedy. C.C. Baxter (Lemmon) is a young bachelor trying to ascend the corporate ladder by allowing a group of his superiors to use his apartment for their extra-marital liaisons. After he falls for charismatic elevator attendant Fran (MacLaine), who is engaged in an illicit relationship with Mr. Sheldrake, the married head of the company, Baxter tries to free himself from the demands of his bosses, with hilarious results. While this is certainly risqué subject matter (for 1960), the film takes an unexpectedly sombre turn when Fran makes a suicide attempt in the apartment after learning the truth behind Sheldrake's motives. What follows is a touching, and at times heart-wrenching flowering of Baxter and Fran's relationship, and if the ending is a little predictable, the journey getting there is really something wonderful.

The Apartment features an excellent selection of fully-formed support characters, but the film really belongs to Lemmon and MacLaine. Lemmon's reputation as cinema's greatest everyman is really on show here, and it's impossible not to root for him and sympathise with his plight. Playing Baxter as a charming yet awkward underdog, his character is the embodiment of the 'nice guys finish last' maxim, and although some elements of his life may be a little shady to say the least, Lemmon is flawless. MacLaine is completely up to Lemmon's high standard as Fran, effortlessly making audiences fall in love with her just as Baxter has. She's just so damn cute that even when she's recovering from an overdose of sleeping pills, she exudes such a potent 'girl next door' allure that can't be avoided. Her chemistry with Lemmon is palpable, and when they inevitably end up together, it's one of those truly satisfying romantic moments seen all too rarely in modern cinema.

I'm not usually one to get nostalgic when it comes to film periods, but while I do have great fondness for many more recent romantic comedies, Hollywood really doesn't make movies like The Apartment any more. Wilder's screenplay (co-written with I.A.L. Diamond) is clever, witty and engaging, particularly in the subtle motifs and unique idiosyncrasies of all the characters, and the film is just so expertly crafted. I'm determined now to seek out more Wilder films, along with catching up on my Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. I can't recommend The Apartment highly enough!
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A precise satire
jdoan-41 May 2006
Billy Wilder has made some tremendous satires. "Sunset Boulevard" is one of the greatest satires on film. "The Apartment", though not as cynical, is a very good one as well. I like that the satire is a backdrop for the main love story, and yet an integral part of it. The film shows just how much people are will to prostitute themselves in order to get what they want, whether that be a family or an executive office. Wilder handles some very serious and bawdy themes with a precise touch. This film could have easily turned into a wacky comedy of errors, but he is much to talented and sympathetic for that. He gives Baxter's character some sincere emotional depth. I could almost feel his loneliness and longing in many scenes. He is never really sure what he wants and how he can get it. He is a man searching for something, and he doesn't quite know it. Lemon plays this role to perfection. He doesn't go overboard. He gives the character the right amount of silliness and charm. McClaine is very strong. Her character is not stereotyped. She is a wounded soul that is looking for respite in the absolutely wrong place. I found her very charming and lovable. Some much of the film is in the wonderful cinematography. Wilder uses the widescreen to its fullest capability. The framing is so precise. You get a feeling of utter separation and distance. I really like the nearly infinite succession of desks in the office.
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...and then one day I saw a footprint in the sand and there you were.
film-critic21 September 2005
I would first like to make the comment that this is no comedy. For those that consider this film a valuable part of Hollywood cinema due to the comedic aspects need to get their eyes examined along with their minds. I do not think that I laughed at all during this film, but I would like to mention that I do not think that is a bad thing. Not laughing at this film means that it hit you at a different level. I witnessed a beautiful film with some highly intelligent actors painting a dark and disturbing picture of a sexual world circa 1960. I suppose I was thinking that this was going to be a "screwball" comedy, which completely threw me off balance when the events of this film occurred. Never have I witnessed such a bold attack on the sexual revolution of the 60s and its effect on the business world. It was a slap in the face to see the way that Billy Wilder represented corporate America and honestly, it felt really good. To see this lonely man turned away from his apartment at all hours of the night because his boss needed a place to take their mistresses was sad, not funny, yet in The Apartment it worked beautifully.

To begin, this film revolved around the actors. If you would not have had such strong actors like Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray honestly conquering their roles than this film would not have succeeded as it did. It won Oscars for a reason, and even watched by today's standard of Hollywood I think that everyone involved should be very proud. Their work was the best Hollywood had to offer. Lemmon successfully portrayed this hurt every-man that you could easily find yourself engulfed within. MacLaine, beautiful in her young age, was an emotional powerhouse. Her eyes could have told the story without any words. You could feel her emotions through her eyes, and it was outstanding. I must say that my favorite actor in this entire film was Fred MacMurray. His portrayal of the typical "boss" who seems to use his powers to control instead of help, was perfect. In fact, even if you watch the film today, you may still be able to see your boss in MacMurray's portrayal. For once, it was a solid cast. It had a structured story that was heightened by sublime actors that knew exactly what they needed to do. I would have to say that this is one of the greatest pairings in cinema history, these three together could have taken Hollywood by storm, and it is evident in The Apartment.

As I stated before, the characters are exceptional, but coupled with their performances is a rich story that seems developed well before its time. I was not expecting to see such a sexual driven film released from the 60s. Films of this nature typically hint towards sex, but never quite spell it out, but in The Apartment it is in your face throughout the course of the film. From the opening sequence until the end, sex seems to be the biggest underlying theme of this film. In the world of C.C. Baxter, all he seems to know is sex, business, and the occasional conversation with the elevator girl. You can't help but wonder if that wasn't what was going through the minds of our fathers as they headed to the corporate world on a daily basis. It was such a slap to the face of the day to day America. To think that in this nation portrayed with family values and moral uprising that The Apartment would emerge as the breakout film of 1960. It shocked me. I think the reason that it did so was because of the strong writing, the powerful story, and the emergence of such innocent "characters" (as mentioned above). There were moments during this film that I honestly wanted to walk into the television, tell everyone to stop, and explain what was happening because I didn't want anyone to get hurt in the end. Isn't that a sign of a long-lasting powerful film? To me it is.

Overall, I must say that The Apartment left my jaw on the floor. While my wife will disagree with me, I thought that it was a brilliant moment in cinematic history. Jack Lemmon could not have been handed a greater roll, nor could he have pulled it off with such beauty and pizazz. The story will shock and amaze you for nearly two hours. We are taken into a world in which we feel comfortable in, we feel as if we have been there before, and we can only thank the imaginative mind of Billy Wilder for that. He takes those moments in our lives that we wholeheartedly want to forget and places them in the window for all to see. His mockery of corporations, of the small man working his way to the top, and the disasters that follow are nothing short of classic. I have never witnessed a film quite like this and I hope I never do again. The Apartment was a once in a lifetime enjoyment, and I cannot wait to revisit it soon to see what I may have missed!

Grade: ***** out of *****
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This Old Apartment
Spuzzlightyear25 July 2005
The Apartment is a movie I'm not 100% sure I like or not. I just LOVE the cast mind you.. Jack Lemmon! Shirley Maclaine! Fred Macmurray! I guess it must be how sad everyone is during this movie. Oh sure, there seems to be some sort of resolvement in the end, but aside from that, everyone seems to just go through life's rituals in the most routine way possible. The ironic thing is that for the very few people that are NOT sad sacks, are the ones who are somewhat immoral, and cheating on their wives and what not. Or, when you're drunk, or both. Take a look at the Christmas party at C.C. Baxter's company during Christmas time. Compare it with any other time, where it's deadly serious and quiet. So why is it that the sadder ones have the more worries and the more happy ones seem to fly by without a care in the world? I'm not sure, and I think this is one of the problems leaves up to the viewer, which I think is quite brilliant. Jack Lemmon is, what he always seems to be, and that's brilliant. Shirley Maclaine is quite good here as well, playing with a certain edge I haven't seen her portray before. And Fred Macmurray seems to be having a ball again playing someone with absolutely no scruples whatsoever (aka Double Indemnity).
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Bosses and employees conflict in a New York insurance company
barryrd3 March 2013
The Apartment is a story that sparkles with a scintillating script, humour, and interesting characters as employees of a large insurance company come into conflict with each other. The story set in mid-20th century Manhattan is considered a "classic". The acting, the mix of characters and script are outstanding. New York City, 1959 is written all over it. The bar scenes, the office Christmas party, the walk-up apartment on the Upper West Side, the White Plains home of one of the executives all evoke the era.

Jack Lemmon is C.C. Baxter a young employee trying to climb the greasy pole of success in a huge Manhattan insurance company. Shirley MacLaine is Fran Kubelik, an elevator operator in the company's office skyscraper, who falls in love with one of the higher-ups, and Fred McMurray is Jeff Sheldrake, director of personnel. All deliver great performances with a strong supporting cast.

The movie presents the characters, particularly Kubelik and Baxter,in ethical dilemmas and as the movie goes along, we see these two come to grips with how they are living out their lives. A great movie by director Billy Wilder, who created some heavyweight movies like Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Some Like It Hot, and Sunset Boulevard. The movie held my interest from scene to scene. It is superbly acted, and very funny.
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This is a comedy?
hall89528 April 2011
When it comes to movies people love to make lists of the best this and best that. You've probably seen The Apartment on plenty of best comedies lists. Which begs the question who ever decided this was a comedy? The Apartment isn't a bad movie but it's not a funny one. To even call it a comedy-drama would be a stretch as the comedy to drama ratio skews far, far away from the comedic side of things. There are no big laughs here. There are barely even any mild chuckles. Which again is not to say this is a bad movie. It's just that if all you know about The Apartment is that you've seen it on best comedies lists you are in for quite a surprise when you actually watch it. If you're in the mood for some lighthearted comedic amusement you have definitely come to the wrong film.

Our story follows office drone C.C. Baxter whose means of getting ahead in life is to loan out his apartment to higher-ups at his company for their extramarital trysts. The big boss, Mr. Sheldrake, gets wind of the arrangement and he wants in on the deal. Baxter gets a big promotion, Sheldrake gets a place to carry on with his latest in a string of office mistresses. Only this mistress, probably like all before her, is convinced that Sheldrake is going to divorce his wife to be with her. Fat chance. When she discovers the truth this supposed comedy, which really hasn't been funny at all to this point, takes a darker turn. At this point any hopes a viewer might have had for fun and laughs from one of the "best comedies ever" disappear.

And what of C.C. Baxter? He has his own connection with Sheldrake's mistress. Well, at least he'd like to. He's got a kind of hopeless schoolboy crush on her and when he discovers she's Sheldrake's girl his illusions are shattered. What's worse is that he knows Sheldrake's just using the girl but he dare not say anything. A guy's got to look out for his career you know? Eventually when, in a rather dire way, circumstances change Baxter may have to take a stand. Here at least the film picks up a bit of drama. Still looking for the comedy though.

Your enjoyment of The Apartment will likely be related to your expectations. If what you're expecting is a great comedy you're going to be disappointed. But if you know going in what it is you're getting yourself into there is much to appreciate. The best thing the film has to offer is the performance of Jack Lemmon as Baxter. It's a great portrayal of a hapless office schnook constantly being taken advantage of. People walk all over Baxter and you can't help but feel for the guy. Lemmon gives the character great heart. And whatever little moments of comedy there are come from him. He's a performer who knows how to draw out a smile from the viewer. Fred MacMurray as Sheldrake and Shirley MacLaine as the girl in the middle of it all are also quite good. Not as memorable as Lemmon perhaps but no quibbles with their performances. The quibbles come with the story itself and with the film's billing as a comedy. Initially the film looks like it's setting itself up for some funny, if tawdry, bed-hopping shenanigans. But the laughs never really come. And the story ultimately veers down some surprisingly dark paths. How this is considered a great comedy I'll never quite understand. Not a bad movie though for what it is.
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Bringing both comedic and dramatic elements together, and it's all so incredibly watchable...
cleary-joshua29 May 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Billy Wilder is one of those film-makers who tackled so many genres throughout his career. "Double Indemnity" and "Sunset Boulevard", one of his earliest productions, saw him take on film-noir and drama; with "Stalag 17" he showed that he could make films about war too; and with "Some Like it Hot" he made one of the best-loved comedies of its time. So where does "The Apartment" fall in all of this? Well it's a credit to the director, in that he merges genres so skilfully. He brings both comedic and dramatic elements together throughout, and it's all so incredibly watchable.

The film follows "Buddy Boy" Baxter (Jack Lemmon), a worker in a dull office building, who allows his superiors to borrow his apartment in order to have affairs in secret. This action gets him promoted to much more senior positions, due to good favour, and his neighbours are none the wiser, assuming that he comes home each night with a different woman. He soon falls in love with Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), who is also caught up in an affair with Baxter's boss, played by Fred MacMurray. The love-triangle is a classic comedy device, and is pulled off here so well, as Wilder adds drama to it as well as comedy.

Jack Lemmon shines throughout the film, giving a comedic performance at the height of "Some Like it Hot". He is a remarkable actor, and can make even the smallest things be charming and humorous, through the use of intonation or facial expressions. MacLaine is also brilliant, and portrays Kubelik as lovely but depressed. A scene where Fran tries to overdose on sleeping pills should break the flow of a comedy by adding a very serious element of drama in, but thanks to the duo's performances, it never feels too solemn. Their shared charm, with Baxter trying to cheer her up with card games, is what makes the movie work so well. The ending which the two share together is simple yet beautiful.

Even though the film isn't at all shocking today, in its time the concept of adultery was one which was not widely portrayed in mainstream cinema, and Wilder's script is a firm satire on adultery throughout. It's visually fairly ordinary, but the clutter of Baxter's apartment and business of the office are things which help to add to its appeal. In all, it's a simply charming film which hits home on some important dramatic points, while never straying far from its initial comedic intentions.
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Definitely Not A "Lemon" Lemmon Movie
bebop63-16 October 2012
A timeless classic in director Billy Wilder's typical anti-establishment satirical style, this is one of Jack Lemmon's best imho. He plays the protagonist CC Baxter, working in a large insurance firm in New York City, just one of many faces in a sea of desks and office machines on a floor of the building. Though he is surrounded by a multitude of people in and out of the office, he is alone socially, having no visible family nor close friends. The main diversion (if it can be called that) he has is lending out his bachelor style apartment to the middle-ranking executives of the insurance firm for their extra-marital trysts, in return they promise him that they will put in a good word with the higher management for him to get promoted to a better position. This he complies with, even if it puts him at such as a disadvantage as having to stand outdoors in freezing weather while waiting for the current occupant to vacate the apartment. In reply to one reviewer who questioned why the philandering men don't just take their lovers to a hotel, there are two possibilities: First, they were too tight-fisted to pay the expense of a room in a hotel - why spend money when they could just use a low-ranking junior employee's joint for free, and the second and more likely reason, is that there's the risk that they would be seen by known associates and acquaintances if they were to conduct trysts in such a public place such as a hotel, and their personal affairs revealed to their detriment. But then I digress. A lot of viewers find no humour nor romance in this movie, even if it is classified as a romantic comedy, and to an extent they are right. The supposedly funny scenes are not the sort that you would want to guffaw at, maybe just a snicker or two, but on the whole it does have its light moments, mostly based on misunderstanding and misinterpretation of situations, like Baxter's doctor neighbor assuming that he (Baxter) is a womanizing playboy causing a lot of ruckus most nights in his apartment when actually it's the doing of others. The fact that he leaves a wastebasket full of empty alcohol bottles (courtesy of the executive's liaisons) outside his door doesn't help improve his standing in the doc's eyes either. If by definition of romance, one would expect hot steamy kissing and bed scenes, then prepare for disappointment, as this movie contains none of that. Baxter does eventually fall for pretty elevator operator Fran Kubelik (played so expertly by Shirley McLaine), but does so in a modulated, hesitant way, and only because circumstances begin to arise such that she ends up in his apartment (after being left behind by her lover Sheldrake), and he's left to pick up the pieces of her failed romance literally, just like he's left to collect the litter left behind in his apartment by his higher up bosses after their dalliances. Fred McMurray is memorable as the sleazy despicable Personnel Director Jeff Sheldrake, a role as far from what we expect from McMurray, who usually plays nice guy in previous movies. He is deliciously detestable in playing on the emotions of Kubelik, making her think that he truly loves her and will divorce his present wife to marry her. The other characters - the middle ranking managers, the office workers, etc serve merely as cogs to fill in the completeness of the wheel to get the story going. All in all this is a very watchable film, and one deserving to rank as one of the classics in film history.
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For anyone who's ever been trapped and lonely
With thematic content that is still relevant today anywhere from NYC to Tokyo, the heart of this very real human dramedy is that quiet, simple love endures and triumphs in the end, and that there is hope for the millions of people feeling trapped and lonely in what seems to be otherwise insignificant lives.

The Apartment is a beautiful and endearing film that shows its audiences the greater meaning behind the vanities of life. How love, modest elegance and principles in character ultimately overrule self centredness, indulgence, and materialistic corporate ladder decadence. In fact, regardless of the corporate settings for the main character, the essential element of the rat race that everyone plays today, as well as the content delving into extramarital adulterous liaisons, considered taboo during its time, is what ensures the film its very timeless quality, and its relevance to the modern world till today. It is these qualities that have caused the film to earn labels like, being 'ahead of its time' or a 'classic'. And what a classic it is.

Billy Wilder, the writing talent behind such brilliant works as "Ninotchka", makes this film his second outing after the highly celebrated "Some Like it Hot". Many felt he might be hard pressed to top that, but in a totally different direction thematically, does so with this film. The story is much more about the dramatic pinpricks of human tragedy and loneliness insofar as it is laced with comedic turns about a man who loans his apartment out to bosses for their extramarital liaisons in order to gain their approval and climb the ladder at work. But complications ensue when he discovers a beautiful woman he desires to court is actually inimically one of the objects exploited beguilingly by his very boss in his very apartment, forcing him into an impugning quagmire. Wilder blends these elements in perfect harmony in this film, with the chemistry between the cast of the wry humoured Jack Lemmon and the cloy beauty of Shirley MacLaine (Wilder would pair them again for Irma Douce) neatly balanced with the pure wit and pacing of the script, whilst always undergirding the whole film with a sense of a genuine sanctity for compassion for the whole plot. Far from considering the film an insult on the many who play sycophantic roles on the way up the rat race or corporate ladder, or the adulterous men, the cynicism can be construed with much verecund indignation as it highlights the sadness of it all without being condescending. In fact, the characters speak of the struggle each City dweller in modern living can identify with.

There is no condescending need to present anyone as perfect, overtly altruistic, overtly feminine nor elegant (MacLaine's character is a lift attendant) nor flawless in their life choices. They make mistakes, sweat over them, and regret. A real rarity for films emerging out of Hollywood on the back of the 1950s with swashbuckling heroines and heroes. Lemmon's character is a simple bachelor with an air of inevitable loneliness in the meanderings of life in a NY apartment. That's why they call them a-part-ments. You live apart. And alone. He is an amalgam of a laid back yet pre-emptively self serving corporate machine, who ostensibly is forced into playing the only role he knows in order to better his predicament of being merely yet another average diploma staffer on Wall St- to climb up the corporate-ladder in his General insurance firm. The real beauty here in Wilder's script is that Lemmon, and also Maclaine (who makes the wrong choices by being mistress to Lemmon's boss), is that both characters harness a true propensity for love and care that is nestled within, waiting to exhale whilst in the midst of them being stuck in their cyclical ruts of despair.

The real satisfaction comes when both these characters reconcile each others pains, heal each other (literally too in the classic doctor scene) and find love amid the hustle bustle of the rat race in the world that goes on around them, championing each other on. They play gin rummy in the final scene, in heart wrenchingly beautiful emotional overtones, kept painfully modest by Wilder, and celebrating the simple love that triumphs over all hurts. The themes are relevant till today, and the quality of what this film achieved stylistically (as the last of the B&W generation) remains extant in full living colour today, because of the sheer timeless message of hope this film carries to anyone who's ever been that insignificant other, or ordinary person to be forgotten in that apartment out there.

For that alone, it deserves an 8/10.

By Stephen Thanabalan
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"Some people take, some people get took."
godamndevil19779 March 2006
The Apartment is a pretty sweet film. I bought this on impulse purchase, after reading it was Vincent Gallo's favourite film.

To make it short – Insurance Clerk, Bud Baxter gets tied up in loaning out his modest NY apartment to sleazy Insurance executives, in return for favours that will boost his career. Seems simple, but the plot draws you in, playing around a theme of doing the right thing for the big company boss, and at the same time stripping Bud's chances with his unrequited love – Miss Kubelik (MacClaine). The whole thing ties up well and always leaves you rooting for Baxter's plight.

The Apartment is a great romance of its time, neatly directed, great dialogue and excellently delivered by a strong cast.

Shirley Maclaine does well to conjure that "something", us men find crazy about the girl-next-door types. Jack Lemmon is quite excellent too, in a manner that resembles a latter day Jim Carrey. He's a bit geeky, sometimes overly enthusiastic and has no coolness about him, only to be redeemed by his eventual purity.

~Paul Browne.
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A masterpiece
MotoMike4 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
***SPOILERS*** ***SPOILERS*** Anyone that knows about comedy knows about "Some Like It Hot", and anyone that know about "Some Like It Hot" knows about Billy Wilder. This was his next film, and the reason I mention that is that this is a serious and melancholy drama with the form and rhythm of comedy. But it's not a funny movie, and part of the genius of the writing and direction is that Lemmon's character especially only figures this out in the third act.

Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, an unmarried drone amongst drones in a huge insurance company, possessing of two important things: a bachelor's apartment near Central Park (check out his rent!!), and an amoral willingness to allow company higher-ups to use his place for after-hours trysts with their girlfriends and pickups they meet in bars. To C.C., the problems associated with operating a safe-house for affairs are merely logistical, not moral; in one scene, he is seen rearranging his and everyone's schedule to accomodate Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) a real bigwig, with the expertise and interest of an air traffic controller.His hope is to promote himself within the company by pleasing his superiors, and for awhile that seems to be working. It turns out, however, that Sheldrake's current flame is Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), who C.C. has quite the crush on; in fact, she stands him up on their first date to meet Sheldrake at their favorite Chinese restaurant, where Sheldrake asks her to resume their affair, intimating that he will leave his wife for her (a lie that no-one except her even pretends to believe).

Without going into too many details, the joy of and intelligence this is how well this triangle works itself out slowly and with some pain by all concerned. Although C.C. really likes Fran, she won't give him the time of day, first because she's already bruised and involved with Sheldrake, and, later, because she sees his flaws better than he does (and, possibly, we do). At one point they agree that it's too bad that she doesn't fall for a guy like him, but the exchange is given additional bittersweetness not only by her inability to fall for a "nice guy" but her awareness that, as he is at that point, he's not really such a nice guy. One of the beauties of this script is that it takes awhile for us to notice that C.C. is just as bad as Sheldrake is; he's totally okay with the infidelities he is assisting in as long as he gets his promotion out of it, and it isn't his business whether anyone (wives or girlfriends) gets hurt in the process. Even the resounding disapproval from his next door neighbors (who just think he's a very busy playboy from what they can hear night after night coming through the walls) doesn't get him to think. Yet Lemmon plays the role with total innocence; he thinks he's in a comedy and it takes a real life-threatening problem halfway through to get him to start considering the error of his ways. Even then, he's still just trying to work the situation, without taking any stand himself. (There are only about two actors I know of that could pull this role off: Jack Lemmon and Tom Hanks, both of whom have such audience appeal that they can be this spineless without the audience despising them.) Interestingly, for all her personality, intelligence and self-awareness, Fran isn't much better; she's no stranger to the hazards of having affairs with married men, yet has little qualms about resuming her affair with Sheldrake. Both C.C. and Fran really are willing to sacrifice their integrity for something they hope to get from Sheldrake - him, the high-floor, corner window office, her, the gold wedding ring.

I've stressed that this is a drama in comedy form to emphasize that this screen play is one of the most intelligently written I have ever seen; it takes a non-story (or at least, obviously bedroom-farcical material) and inhabits it with character interaction and development of the most subtle and human kind. You expect lots of bedroom-closet-under-the couch people shuffling (like in The Pink Panther of three years later) and general hilarity, perhaps ending up with someone partially disrobed and dangling from a window; instead you find out that each of these characters has a little history of his own. I rented this the other night, thinking that it would indeed be a comedy, and about halfway through found myself thinking "This is REALLY good!". I've been renting lots of pre-1975 movies (The Sting, Spartacus, this one) in an unprecedented attack of escapist nostalgia, and have been rewarded with jewels like this. Winner of 5 Oscars including Best Picture, this is one of the best pictures I've seen this or any year. It's a cliche to say that Hollywood doesn't make movies like this anymore, yet the nearest thing to this is My Best Friend's Wedding?

(A couple of notes I really liked: Ray Walston's character is perfectly cast and played, as usual; the whole picture is a cynical Valentine to New York and the 50's at the same time; and anyone who saw this at the time could see that Shirley MacLaine was gonna be a big star).
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