60/60 Review #16: The Apartment.

It's a movie written, produced, and directed by the same man. It's about a guy who owns an apartment that people are constantly coming in and out of. Everyone has sex there. The man is really wanting to get a promotion at work. He and another man are in love with the same woman. There's a short scene where, at the end, he pats a doggie. There's a random mention of pizza. The film title is two words, begins with "The" and is followed by a place of living. And, of course, there's a big suicide moment. And it won 5 Oscars, including best screenplay, director, and picture (and nominated for 5 others, including acting, cinematography, and sound). Yeah, you thought I was talking about The Room, didn't you?

This film is my introduction into Billy Wilder. Besides the horribly vague description I just gave, the film is really about a man named C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon), a man trying to get a promotion at work. So what does he do? He lets his bosses borrow his apartment on certain evenings to let them entertain ladies and have wild sex--much to the chagrin of his neighbors. He ends up falling for an elevator operator named Fran (Shirley MacLaine), who he soon finds out is really in an off-again-on-again secret affair with his main boss, Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray). But when something bad happens to Fran, it's up to Baxter to get her better, and he ends up getting closer to her in the process.

The first hour of the film is pretty much a sex comedy. It's full of situational humor and is relatively fun. And random side-note... I came home early sick from work today and decided to pop this in... and there's a good chunk of the beginning where Jack Lemmon is sick at work and whatnot. This makes two reviews this month where I have some kind of strange, personal connection to the film. Anyway, the second hour turns into a pretty straight drama once (Spoiler... though it's been out for 51 years) Fran tries to commit suicide. There are a couple jokes here and there, but it really is mainly a drama at this point. It's a drastic turn that I really wasn't expecting, especially since it's labeled as a romance/comedy with drama in third place (according to imdb, anyway).

It's all acted pretty well, though some of them still have some of that old-timey over-the-top-ness about them. I've always really liked Jack Lemmon, so he was a real plus. Shirley MacLaine was gorgeous, and she strangely reminded me of Carey Mulligan. And funnily enough, this has been the second movie this month with Ray Walston in it. Everyone else was alright.

I'd say the best part about the movie (outside Jack Lemmon) is its writing, which--as I've already mentioned--it won an Oscar for. The dialogue is good, the characters are good. It's all-around a well-written film. My biggest issue didn't really come to mind until I had already finished it. I realized that, despite it being this big love triangle thing... there wasn't a heck of a lot of chemistry between the characters. I felt it early on when they were in the elevator. But afterwards, especially in the second half of the movie, I just didn't feel it--or at least it wasn't as strong. It was minimal between Lemmon and MacLaine, but it was almost non-existent between MacLaine and MacMurray (though you could argue that being the point in that case). I knew they deserved each other and needed to be together--Lemmon and MacLaine, that is--because the story demanded it. Not because the actors demanded it. But maybe that's just me.

Anyway, it was a good film. Outside the chemistry thing, I didn't find all that much wrong with it. It was enjoyable, if a bit too serious at times. I didn't love it or anything, but I wouldn't be clawing my way out of the room if I had to watch it again. I don't know what it was up against at the Oscars that year--chances are I've probably not seen them anyway. But I don't deny it should have won them. It just wasn't my cup of tea (ironic since I drank two cups while watching). I just guess that's the way it crumbles. Cookie-wise, I mean.

I Am McLovin!

(P.S. That rating is for enjoyment. If I were to rate it on quality, I'd bump it up another rating. Anyway, this was the last official film for the month, but I have one more Extra to go to help tie in to next month... so stay tuned.)


  1. I don't remember Fran getting drastic until about 2/3 of the way in. Sure it was a whole hour that they were dealing with that situation?

    At any rate, go and re-watch ALMOST FAMOUS to see MacLaine's influence on the character of Penny Lane...then re-watch AMERICAN BEAUTY to see Lemmon's influence on the performance of Kevin Spacey.

    Glad you liked it, but do be sure to come back to this movie sometime...there is a lot of charm that comes through the more you watch it.

    I'd give my left arm to be able to write like Billy Wilder.

  2. Yup, I actually checked while watching. It was almost exactly an hour in when she takes the pills, and the movie is slightly over 2 hours long.

    I'd have to have seen Almost Famous before I can rewatch it.

    This might be sacrilege, but while I found Billy Wilder's writing definitely very good, it wasn't the best I've ever seen/heard. I'd give my left arm to someone else.

  3. ...while I found Billy Wilder's writing definitely very good, it wasn't the best I've ever seen/heard. I'd give my left arm to someone else.

    Like who?

  4. Film wise? It's all a matter of taste/preference, to be honest, ESPECIALLY when it comes to comedy. I'll have to get back to you on a list... but this month alone I enjoyed the writing in Annie Hall tons more. I could also say William Goldman for The Princess Bride and Butch Cassidy alone.

    I like quick wit.

  5. This is probably my favorite Wilder, but I'm not a Wilder fan.

    I actually like the shift throughout the film into something darker and more overwrought.

    And you haven't seen Almost Famous!?!?!? Madness. Add it to the list.

  6. Interesting how we all see things differently. I think The Apartment is completely and utterly wonderful-- and in terms of comedy/seriousness -- I find the mix delightful -- and even during the darker moments you speak of.. for me, there is lots of comedy there.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.