Reviews of movies from my giant DVD tower, and more.
Released on June 15, 1960
Directed by Billy Wilder
Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Cast: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, Edie Adams, David Lewis, Hope Holiday, Joan Shawlee, Naomi Stevens, Willard Waterman, David White, Joyce Jameson, Hal Smith, Johnny Seven
One of the best from director Billy Wilder and screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond, a wonderful blend of comedy, drama, romance, and at times heartbreak, that took home five awards at Oscar time, including Best Picture. Jack Lemmon stars as C.C. Baxter, an employee of a large New York City insurance company, whose apartment becomes a nightly love nest for the married superiors he works for, a situation he begrudgingly allows in hopes it will help move him up the corporate ladder; Shirley MacLaine plays the elevator operator both he and personnel director Fred MacMurray vie for.
The filmmakers took themes of infidelity and loneliness and successfully fashioned a happily entertaining film around them, but what lifted The Apartment above the romantic comedy blueprint was that, every now and then, moments of serious reality unexpectedly bubbled to the surface and caught you completely off-guard; at one point, the narrative took such a solemn and emotional turn, it made you wonder if someone had somehow switched movies on you without your knowledge.
However, it was this aspect that gave the movie its heart, and along with the direction and screenplay (and the location work in a wonderful and sadly bygone New York City), was made complete by the stellar work of the lead and supporting actors, especially Lemmon and MacLaine in their Oscar-nominated roles: Lemmon’s knack for both humor and poignancy created an audience kinship towards Baxter that made you realize just how good Lemmon was at playing this type of character.
MacMurray was a surprise, going against type (although he’d played not-so-wonderful characters previously in Double Indemnity and The Caine Mutiny, so this wasn’t a first) as a world-class adulterer and louse, albeit a subtle one, who takes advantage of both Baxter’s apartment and MacLaine’s vulnerable and tragically-lovelorn elevator girl Fran, adding another layer to the many this film already had on display. All in all, another winning effort from Wilder that is not to be missed. (9/10)