Classic Review – The Apartment (1960)

Title – The Apartment (1960)

Director – Billy Wilder (Some Like it Hot)

Cast – Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray

Plot – Quiet office worker C.C. Baxter (Lemmon) rents his apartment out to colleagues looking to have a good time away from the spotlight of the world/family but his simple life is turned upside down when he falls for his boss’s Jeff D. Sheldrake (MacMurray’s) lover Fran Kubelik (MacLaine).

“I like it that way. Makes me look the way I feel”

Review by Eddie on 07/10/2020

Winner of the 1961 Best Picture award at the Academy Awards, alongside its four other wins in the director, original screenplay, art direction and film editing categories, Billy Wilder’s controversial, original and blackly funny dramedy is to this day a unique and entertaining feature, with fantastic performances from its leads Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine to boot.

A boundary pushing affair upon initial release, with the films ample themes of infidelity, depression and shady business operators no doubt stirring up a myriad collection of anger and concern among more sanitized cinema goers and critics, The Apartment flirts with its more depraved concepts and ideas as it turns its attention to Lemmon’s pencil pusher office worker C.C Baxter who side hustles by lending out his apartment to workmates looking to have a good time away from their families/responsibilities.

As he informs us over the films opening voice-over, Baxter isn’t the happiest of people but does what he needs to to do to get by, a fact which begins to change as his apartment stirs up a bunch of issues and his new attraction to MacLaine’s elevator operator Fran causes him to react in ways that threatens his new found standing amongst the boys club at his work.

Creating one of the era’s greatest double acts, the always good Lemmon and MacLaine bounce off each other in their respective roles as the mild mannered and well-meaning Baxter falls head over heels for Fran, who to complicate matters further is having a tryst with their respective boss Jeff D. Sheldrake, played by Fred MacMurray.

It’s a pleasure sitting back watching Lemmon and MacLaine go to work, delivering Wilder and co-writer I.A.L. Diamond’s dialogue with typical aplomb and as the film moves more away from straight up fish out of water comedy to a more sombre and confronting experience, Lemmon and MacLaine make the switch without a fuss, meaning the film works just as well as a comedy as it does a drama.

It’s incredible to think that over a ten year period Wilder produced films like The Apartment as well as other genuine classics Sunset Blvd, Witness for the Prosecution, Some Like it Hot and Stalag 17, there all films that vary in nature and theme but one thing that remains constant is Wilder’s deft hand behind the camera and often equally as impressive putting his pen to paper to help shape the script and while The Apartment may not always function as well as some of Wilder’s other efforts, its no doubt the work of filmmaker that was constantly pushing his medium forward.

Final Say – 

A sometimes riotous and other times reflective dramedy, The Apartment features some of the best work from its stars Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine and is another fine example of why Billy Wilder deserves his place in the collection of cinema’s greatest voices.

4 spare keys out of 5 

4 responses to “Classic Review – The Apartment (1960)

  1. I had a stack of films hanging around that I had yet to watch and recently made the effort to get through them all. The Apartment was easily the oldest film in the pile, but also easily the best. Watching it alongside more recent films, you appreciate how good it is and wonder if recent films should try harder

    • It’s great to see such all-round great performances too, there really isn’t a weak link here. It’s incredible to think of the films Wilder made.

  2. Pingback: Classic Review – The Apartment (1960) –·

  3. Pingback: Classic Review – Some Like it Hot (1959) | Jordan and Eddie (The Movie Guys)·

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