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Plot: As of November 1, 1959, mild mannered C.C. Baxter has been working at Consolidated Life, an insurance company, for close to four years, and is one of close to thirty-two thousand employees located in their Manhattan head office. To distinguish himself from all the other lowly cogs in the company in the hopes of moving up the corporate ladder, he often works late, but only because he can't get into his apartment, located off of Central Park West, since he has provided it to a handful of company executives - Mssrs. Dobisch, Kirkeby, Vanderhoff and Eichelberger - on a rotating basis for their extramarital liaisons in return for a good word to the personnel director, Jeff D. Sheldrake. When Baxter is called into Sheldrake's office for the first time, he learns that it isn't just to be promoted as he expects, but also to add married Sheldrake to the list to who he will lend his apartment. What Baxter is unaware of is that Sheldrake's mistress is Fran Kubelik, an elevator girl in the building who Baxter himself fancies. In turn, Sheldrake has no idea of Baxter's own interest in Fran. And Fran, who is in love with Sheldrake, has no idea that she is only the latest in a long line of Sheldrake's mistresses, that Sheldrake has no intention of leaving his wife for her, and that the apartment belongs to Baxter, who she likes as a friend. As some of these facts come to light on Christmas Eve, one of the three makes a unilateral decision. That decision sets off a series of events over the course of the next week which makes each of the three examine what he/she really wants which in turn may be incompatible with the other two. They are helped along the way by Dobisch, Kirkeby, Vanderhoff and Eichelberger who are now feeling neglected as Baxter no longer needs their assistance in moving up, by Miss Olsen, Sheldrake's long serving secretary who was also once his mistress, and by Dr. Dreyfus, a physician and one of Baxter's many exasperated neighbors who believes Baxter is a playboy based on all the noise he hears in Baxter's apartment and the plethora of empty liquor bottles Baxter seems to be always discarding. Runtime: 125 mins Release Date: 15 Sep 1960
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.*SOME SPOILERS* 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 <more>
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.
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 <more>
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!
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. (by cwelty1)
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 <more>
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.
Some Like it Dark - Wilder and Dark Comedy (by jtmudge)
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 <more>
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.
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 <more>
They don't make 'em like this anymore (by markdroulston)
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 <more>
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!
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 <more>
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.
Jack Lemmon in most of his films that I can remember usually had me turning it off; this is not the case with `Missing' qv in which he plays a surprisingly good rôle, and in `The Apartment' in which he is superb. He carries the film practically by himself. Shirley MacLaine is just about OK, ditto Fred MacMurray and the rest of the cast. But that is precisely the magic of this classic almost in form of stage-theatre: the sum of the parts do not add up to the whole. The end result is a fine example of classic comedy in best 60's style.The film was shown here on TV last night <more>
coinciding with the death of Billy Wilder, but programmed and recorded presentation, discussion etc. before he died: a fitting tribute to this European-born man.The film, in black and white, is slightly dated only due to the music, as it is definitely in the style of 40's and 50's melodramas and the like. However: don't miss this one. The IMDb voting average is just about right and that is very high on my scale, especially for a `comedy'.
It's lost a step over time, but still satisfies even if it does not surprise (by AlsExGal)
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 <more>
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.