The Apartment (1960)

The Apartment
Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Mirisch Corporation
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental
One of 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die


C.C. Baxter: Ya know, 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.

I watch Billy Wilder’s bittersweet romantic comedy almost every New Year’s Eve.  It never gets old.

C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is an up-and-coming insurance analyst with ambitions for early promotion to the executive corps.  His current ploy is to offer his apartment to managers for their extramarital liaisons.  Despite his go-getting attitude, Baxter is basically a shy and lonely guy.  He has a crush on winsome elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine).

All the goings on in Baxter’s apartment make his neighbors think he is quite a swinger.  Dr. Dreyfuss (Jack Kruschen), his next-door neighbor, thinks he should donate his brain to science.

Baxter’s strategy works all too well and soon head honcho Jeff D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) wants the apartment key in exchange for a private office.  But when Baxter discovers that Sheldrake’s bit on the side is Fran he must rethink his plan.  With Edie Adams as Sheldrake’s secretary and Ray Walston as one of the corporate lotharios.

I love this movie.  It must be the blackest romantic comedy ever made, dealing as it does with adultery, suicide, and corporate shenanigans.  The casting is pitch perfect.  MacMurray is always at his best playing heels and both Lemmon and MacLaine are irresistible.  Most highly recommended.

The Apartment won Academy Awards for Best Picture; Best Director; Best Writing – Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen; Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White; and Best Film Editing.  It was nominated in the categories of Best Actor (Lemmon); Best Actress (MacLaine); Best Supporting Actor (Kruschen); Best Cinematography, Black-and-White; and Best Sound.


5 thoughts on “The Apartment (1960)

  1. If Billy Wilder had only given us THE APARTMENT it would have been enough. A perfect movie, in my estimation. What a great New Year’s Eve ritual. Indeed, it never ages. It reminds us of how we were as we entered The Aspirin Age, and as the years go by, it reminds us that things never change. Is there any moment in the movies more wonderful, more exhilarating, than Fran’s rush down the street, her party hat left behind, finally confident of her future. The final moments: “Shut up and deal.”

  2. It is black, but that befits Billy Wilder’s sensibilities. There are parallels here to his other movies–there’s some Double Indemnity in this, for sure.

    Beautifully cast, though, and Lemmon is a charmer.

    • There are parallels to some of the other films but not another one of its kind. One of the things I admire most about Wilder is his vast versatility.

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