Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Apartment (1960)

TOP 100 FILMS: #95

C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is just another face in the crowd at his company, until one day he gets in good with the executives by allowing them to use his apartment for their affairs. As he slowly moves up in the chain, he begins to fall for elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Though as they just begin to get close, he makes a startling discovery, she's caught in a nasty love triangle with his boss, the sly Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray).

There's something strange about Billy Wilder's dark romantic comedies... they're confusing in their morality, hilariously fun, and shockingly romantic in a way that makes you scratch your head. Beyond the natural entertainment gift that is Jack Lemmon, Wilder crafts an emotionally ridden romantic comedy that deals with harsh issues, in a light enough manner to keep it enjoyable, and yet harsh enough to make you think.

It's something I can't think any director in our modern times would get away with.... and I love him for it. Perhaps The Apartment is the least questionable of his Jack Lemmon trio (including Irma La Douce, dealing with prostitution, and Avanti!, an odd ode to romantic affairs), and yet it's so great you just have to watch it. MacLaine and Lemmon are a match made in film heaven, and MacMurray is surprisingly great as the evil Mr. Sheldrake. Filled with hilarious gags, and characters you'd die to meet, The Apartment is a true treat to watch.

Backed by great music, and wonderfully simple cinematography, Wilder brings out the best in his script. Maintaining a fluid pace, and blending the 50's ideal life with a darker side, almost easy to overlook even though it's at the very center of the entire film. It's a gift Wilder must have adapted, taking something as generic as the romantic comedy throwing a spin you hardly notice, and giving you something that looks so old, feels so fresh, and manages to be both!

The Apartment is just one of those rare films that'll put a smile on your face, a thought in your head, and entertain the whole way through... worth the time and the money (several times over).

4 better thoughts:

CaptainD said...

I've got ot watch this again... somehoe I didn't enjoy it last time, but I love Billy Wilder's films, I really like Jack Lemon... must have just been in the wrong mood at the time!

Thanks for the reminder...

The Mad Hatter said...

Great post!

THE APARTMENT strikes me as a classic film that not enough of our generation knows about. A shame really since it's a true classic. Maybe more posts like this will spark more interest in it.

Univarn said...

thanks for the comments! I agree, almost makes me wish schools had a film class elective that educated kids on good classic cinema, or at least in a historical perspective (such as the progression of film through the decades).

I do recommend revisiting it CaptainD, I loved the movie more on my 2nd and 3rd viewing since I was grumpy when I first watched it. If it doesn't work for you then, well that's ok too... what would film be without contradicting opinions? Not much I'd say :).

Dan (Top10Films) said...

Can't disagree with the 10/10 rating but I'd place this in my all time top ten. It is probably my favourite Billy Wilder film - there's so many classics in his back catalogue, it is difficult to decide which is best, but The Apartment stands out because it's such a beautifully crafted film. Jack Lemmon is simply fantastic. It's just so warm and life-affirming, I can't think of a film that makes me more happier than this one.

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