Release year: 1960
Screenwriter: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, David Lewis, Hope Holiday
Ratings: 5 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, Best Film Editing. 5 Oscar nomination: Best Actor (Jack Lemmon), Best Actress (Shirley macLaine), Best Supporting Actor (Jack Kruschen), Best Cinematography, Best Sound. 3 Golden Globes: Best Picture Comedy, Best Actor Musical/Comedy (Jack Lemmon), Best Actress Musical/Comedy (Shirley MacLaine)
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #8, week 31 2014
C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) works for an insurance firm and has found a practical way to rise quickly through the ranks of the company; he simply leaves the key to his apartment under the mat, takes a walk and lets his bosses use his apartment as a place to bring their many lady friends in exchange for a quicker promotion. But when Baxter falls in love with the elevator girl in his building (Shirley MacLaine) things suddenly get complicated.
C.C. Baxter is a mild-mannered man, personality-wise and otherwise-wise; the kind of character it is hard not to like. If he has a flaw it’s that he is almost too nice – a weakness his bosses are quick to take advantage of. Although Baxter is annoyed and finds the abuse of his kindness (and his apartment) quite inconvient, he always keeps in mind that it is a quick and sure way to a promotion. But when Baxter finally finds the courage to do something about his interest in elevator girl Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) things become problematic. The ping pong between Lemmon and MacLaine is top-class, as is the rest of the excellent script, which is full of well-rounded characters and great lines. Both Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine are extraordinary. Lemmon is one moment clowning around as only he can do, the next moment heartbreakingly affecting and sincere. MacLaine finds the perfect balance between her scenes with Lemmon, flirtatious and adorable, and her scenes Fred MacMurray, vulnerable and brokenhearted. The Apartment was Billy Wilder’s first film following the very susscessful Some Like It Hot (1959), which also starred Jack Lemmon, and many of the movie’s promiscuous women are clearly modelled on Marily Monroe, with whom Wilder had a less than happy working experience. While Wilder is and remains a beloved film maker, and while The Apartment was that years big winner at the Oscars, it has never been one of the most beloved or well-known of classics, which is a shame, but perhaps has to do with its less than pleasant subject matter and its harsh take on sexuality and womanising in the Work places of what was then present day America. The Apartment is funnier, sadder, and more magic than one might expect, so don’t wait another day and watch it as soon as possible.
The Apartment was the last black & white film to win an Oscar for Best Picture until The Artist (2011). Although Schindler’s List (1994) is mostly in black & white, a few scenes are partly in colour.
The Christmas party scene was filmed on 23th December, 1959 to catch everyone in a holiday mood. Almost all of it is filmed in one take.
The role of C.C. Baxter was written with Jack Lemmon in mind and earned him an Oscar nomination.