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on June 30, 2003
...that's how C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is summed up in the early going of this one. It's not that this is untrue -- strictly speaking, Baxter is just that, a nebbish. Yet we love him all the more for it. He is, however, a nebbish with a misplaced sense of propriety. To shuck and jive for the married executives at the insurance company where he labors among the other grunts in order for them to enjoy their extra-marital daliances is his one major flaw.
Forunately, there is Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) to unwittingly calibrate Baxter's moral barometer. No point in telling how she does it -- that'd spoil the movie. Rest assured that it's one of the best Billy Wilder-Jack Lemmon collaborations (second only to 'Some Like It Hot')
While it's great to have it on DVD, you'd think they would have kicked in with some kind of special features (this was, after all, the Oscar winner for best picture in 1960). Alas, that is not the case here. You get the movie, the trailer...and that's it.
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on June 16, 2003
For years I watched this film and didn't really like the story. Understand- I liked the central characters, but didn't like what was happening to them (or the fact that they allowed it to happen over and over again). I figured out the trick to watching and really enjoying "The Apartment:" you need the patience of Job. The pace and order with which the events happen is so gradual (rather than slow) that it can easily frustrate the viewer who wants everything in a movie to be resolved in five minutes. If you don't have 2+ hours to really sit, watch, and be absorbed, you may not appreciate this one. At first glance, you want to ring the collective necks of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine- two characters who both seem much too smart and civil to allow the things that happen to them to keep happening. MacLaine, of course, excelled in this cheery-but-abused character in the dawn of her career, and Lemmon- who was still fairly new in 1960- was showing a kaleidescope of emotions in a character who's alternately a loner, a doormat, a kook, and something of a genius in ways of smooching the corporate bosses. Once he and MacLaine actually start their own interaction (the card games are a marvelous form of silent courtship- even in the event of squashing an attempted suicide), everything's all right with the film- and the world. Eke out a Sunday afternoon with bags of microwave popcorn and soda to see this one. Or if you're feeling really adventurous, watch with a spaghetti dinner- strained through a tennis racket, of course.
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on February 18, 2003
Sometimes you hear about a film that is so good, you feel jealous because you have not seen it, or just want to be a bad boy and refuse to see it because you're afraid you might learn something. Well, I finally saw "The Apartment", and yes it is good. Perhaps this was the film that made people like Jack Lemmon. Nice guys do win. In my opinion, this film is about The Nice Guy vs. macho work men. Guess who wins? Jack Lemmon plays a single man who just prefers to work day and night and he has his own apartment with the comfort of music and his television set. However, in order to keep his desk job, he is forced to let the macho executives use his apartment for thier own pleasure with thier dates and affairs. So out in the cold Jack goes, literally. The next morning, Jack has a cold. But on to work he goes. He begins to openly talk with an elevator lady (Shirley MacLaine) who he really never talked too much to before. From then on, whenever they see each other, it's only cordial. Just two people staying business-like and professional at work. Then something tragic happens that eventually changes his life and others around him. I think this film holds up very well and is still realistic, even in today's modern world. Keep watching this film to the very end. There are a few surprises and twists. So don't give up to early. After the film is over, I guarantee it will keep you thinking.
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on December 12, 2002
The Apartment is Billy Wilder's satirical look at office politics and the Man In The Grey Flannel Suit. Jack Lemmon stars as C.C. Baxter, a lowly office clerk in a huge corporation who is just another faceless working bee in an endless row of desks. When Baxter starts lending his apartment to executives in his firm so they can take their mistresses there, he finds himself moving up the corporate ladder. Although the constant loaning of his apartment starts to be an inconvenience, he keeps doing it as makes sense business wise. In meantime, he meets Fran, an elevator operator in his building, who is involved in affair with the big man in corporation, J.D. Sheldrake, played by Fred MacMurray. Mr. MacMurray is outstanding playing against type as the lascivious lowlife boss and philanderer (although is played another unscrupulous character quite well in The Caine Mutiny). Ms. MacLaine is excellent as the morose Fran who brings the situation between Baxter, Sheldrake and herself to head when she tries to commit suicide. Baxter must decide between his integrity and his career. Mr. Wilder masterfully fills the film with laughs and heart and his look at corporate politics is sharp and incisive. For his efforts, he yet again had a triple win at the Oscars, taking the 1960 Best Director, Screenwriting & Picture awards. The Apartment was also the last black & white film to win the Best Picture Oscar until Schindler's List (which has some elements of color) won in 1993.
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on December 6, 2002
In "The Apartment", Jack Lemmon gets to showcase and stretch his acting ability like in no other movie, and that's why it's my favorite Lemmon flick. Being a mixture of comedy and drama, we get to see Lemmon's raw talent and the ease at which he is able to accommodate the requirements of a given scene.
The 60's N.Y city setting is the perfect backdrop for Lemmon's attempt to climb up the ladder of success, by allowing his "higher-up" co-workers at the insurance company where they work access to his apartment for their various trysts and affairs. While the whole thing started as more or less an accident, Lemmon ("C.C. Baxter") puts up with the many inconveniences of the arrangement because he quickly sees the value ("business-wise", that is) of his beneficent behavior. And it seems to pay off when he finally receives a promotion, only to discover that his new boss ("Mr. Sheldrake", played by Fred MacMurray) also wants in on the apartment "action". The plot then thickens when Lemmon begins to fall for an elevator operator (Shirley MacLaine) who happens to be the girl that Sheldrake is having an affair with.....
The storyline moves quickly so there is never a boring moment and the viewer easily becomes sympathetic to Baxter, who ultimately must make the "career vs. integrity" decision. As the movie continues, the funny lines and scenes (and they are top-notch) diminish somewhat and the more poignant moments surface - Lemmon is equally at home in both worlds. MacMurray as "the villain" works surprisingly well, and although I am not a Shirley MacLaine fan, she is excellent in this movie.
The DVD quality is very good and far surpasses my old VHS copy, plus it's in wide screen format.
Directed by Billy Wilder. The black and white works exceptionally well, creating an ironic sense of isolation and despair in the ever-bustling and often humorous world of unstoppable human.....progress? Not only my favorite Lemmon movie, but one of my favorite movies period, and one I watch 2 or 3 times each year. Highly recommended.
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on October 4, 2002
Some things have not changed much in the world of office politics and all things sexual since this movie was released some 40 plus years ago. Oh sure, today's tactical pursuit of illicit workplace liasons have adapted to the advent of pagers, cell phones, the Internet, not to mention a ginger dance around the legal land mines of sexual harrasment lawsuits, but viewing the cosmopolitan office scene of times gone by as defined by "The Apartment" is a worthy study in love and lust amid the corporate arena. C.C.Baxter, (Jack Lemmon) climbs the corporate ladder by making his apartment available to key personnel within his company for quickie liasons. Somewhat naive about the ways of the world, he develops a romantic attraction for the nubile elevator operator, Miss Kubelik, (Shirley MacLaine). She is however, preoccupied with the ongoing affair she is secretly involved in with the married big boss J.D.Sheldrake, (Fred MacMurray) who demands the key to Baxter's apartment from time to time in return for corporate favors. Why this wonderfully written and superbly acted film is sometimes defined as comedy escapes me. Sure this movie has many great moments of biting satire but at its heart is pathos on parade. Christmas and New Year's Eve never seemed so empty and pointless. Climbing the corporate ladder can carry a hefty personal price but I suppose that lesson is to be experienced by each generation of young lions who would covet the corner office. "The Apartment" is a great study in personal compromise most worthy of two hours of your time.
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on July 17, 2002
This movie, directed by the legendary Billy Wilder, is one of my all-time favorites. It features a funny script, great acting, and an interesting and original plot. The Apartment is a perfect example of what is missing in Hollywood today: it is a witty, entertaining movie that relies on the script and on the acting to keep the viewer's attention and consequently does not need to use obscene language or inappropriate scenes to be amusing!
Essentially, The Apartment is about a young insurance company worker (played by Jack Lemmon in an excellent performance) who is forced to allow his philandering bosses to use his apartment on dates. In exchange for allowing his bosses to use the apartment, Lemmon is recommended to recieve promotions. Things get more complicated, however, when the bigger boss, Sheldrake (played by Fred McMurray) gets involved in the apartment renting. This would seem like a good thing for Lemmon - but there is one problem: McMurray (who is married and has no plans of divorcing) is dating Lemmon's dream girl, the beautiful elevator operator at the company (played by Shirley MacLaine). To say any more would be to give too much away...
In addition to having an intertaining plot and a funny, sarcastic script (like most Billy Wilder movies), The Apartment features amazing performances by all of its actors, especially Lemmon and MacLaine.
So I don't know how else to recommend this movie - get it soon and enjoy!
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on April 9, 2002
Billy Wilder was the master at this kind of film which falls into the genre of Dark Comedy. It's not too dark, but it's certainly not the Stooges, either. Jack Lemmon gives a truly magnificent performance as the lowly employee for a major insurance company with a desire for the key to the executive washroom, but that involves him sharing one of his keys, the key to his apartment.Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray provide the film noir elements. They are both good, especially MacMurray as the cynical top executive of the company. MacLaine is the good girl who does bad, and the audience is pulled into her drama in a very sympathetic way, thanks to one of the best directors of film noir (see Double Indemnity or Sunset Boulevard). But this movie is really a comedy. Lemmon provides some truly hilarious scenes that seem to steer precariously close to tragedy, and that is what I think makes this movie so great. Of course, tragedy is averted, as it always is in comedies, even dark ones.
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on April 7, 2002
"The Apartment" is a well-executed film presenting real human dilemmas handled in comical fashion. C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) has himself in a pickle in both a practical and moral sense. He often can't get to his NYC apartment until late at night because he's lent it to married, upper-level personnel from work. They want a place to take girlfriends. Baxter doesn't seem to know how to say no to these higher-ups; besides, he's hoping his largesse will lead to a promotion. The demand for his apartment becomes a real burden on him. And it gets worse. In a superbly delivered twist of plot, a really big cheese, Mr Sheldrake of Personnel (on the 27th floor), asks for the apartment key--offering Baxter two Broadway tickets in exchange. Baxter reluctantly agrees but then seeks to turn the situation in his favor by asking an attractive elevator girl out to the play. But she also happens to be the girl Sheldrake was hoping to bring to the apartment. Baxter's moral dilemma arises from these circumstances.
There is great acting all around: Lemmon does one of his very best nervously funny characters; watch him make spaghetti. Shirley McClaine is sweet and vulnerable; Fred MacMurray is a real cad--with irresistible charm. The characters of Dr. and Mrs. Dreyfus (Baxter's neighbors) are funny yet wise. Ray Walston is great too.
I'm not a big Jack Lemmon fan but it's hard not to like this film; it's done so well in every respect.
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on January 13, 2002
They just don't make movies like this any more. It's perfect in every way from the acting of the late great Jack Lemmon, to the writing/direction of Billy Wilder. Everything adds up to an immensely enjoyable movie, worthy of multiple viewings.
Lemmon stars as C.C. Baxter, a worker drone employed by the nation's largest insurance corporation. In hopes of climbing the corporate ladder, C.C. lends his cozy little apartment to his bosses for entertaining their mistresses. Baxter's life as a bachelor seems empty, until doors begin to open up for him at work, and he begins pursuing lovely elevator operator Fran (Shirley MacLaine), who just happens to be the ex-mistress of his boss (Fred MacMurray) who would like to rekindle the romance with her himself. Baxter must decide what is more important: success or the woman he has fallen in love with.
The movie features some hilarious situations, including Baxter's nosy neighbors, who think he's a real playboy judging by all the racket coming from his apartment every night. Again, the acting is splendid all around, from Lemmon to the beautiful MacLaine. You'll be hard pressed to find a movie as charming as this one. In beautiful black and white.
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