User Reviews (270)

  • gaityr24 March 2002
    That's the way it crumbles...
    What a wonderful way to spend an evening--dinner, Christmas and New Year's with CC Baxter (Jack Lemmon) and 'friends', accompanied by much champagne and laughter, and spaghetti and meatballs lovingly prepared by the host himself. There's even a game of gin rummy to get into that Baxter and Fran can't ever seem to finish--here's hoping it never does!

    THE APARTMENT is one of those truly classic classic movies--for one thing, it has an absolutely top-notch cast, featuring Jack Lemmon (at his wryly humourous best); Shirley MacLaine (a glowing screen presence); Fred MacMurray (smarm personified); and a younger Ray Walston (still wisecracking, still hilarious). They also benefit from a clever, perceptive and timelessly relevant script by Billy Wilder, under his capable direction. Though there are plenty of brilliant one-liners, the best of the dialogue feels true and real, which adds to the feeling that you've known Baxter et al for years. I loved the score to the movie as well, artfully attributed to the Rickshaw Boys and used to great effect.

    There are so many good moments scattered throughout the film (I can't even begin to enumerate them all here!). A lot of them are little touches that must have been added by the actors themselves (Jack Lemmon humming as he prepares the meatball sauce is just *so* funny!). I love the madness of the Christmas party scene, and when Baxter's doctor-neighbour takes charge of the situation with Fran, slapping her awake and marching her around the living room. I also love it when Baxter first starts playing gin rummy with Fran, and she reveals how she has a talent for falling for the wrong guy all the time. Best of all, Lemmon makes such a believable, sweet pushover that you often want to shake him and hug him at the same time--the things he would do for Fran! It makes his final scene with MacMurray that much more satisfying for the audience.

    If you see this gem of a movie on a video store shelf, or (even better) playing in the cinema, don't let it pass you by. Join Baxter, Fran, Mr. Sheldrake and everyone else, and have a great time!
  • David21 January 2005
    Becoming A Mensch
    Ohhh - after my 4th or 5th viewing, I think this may be one of the most remarkable blends of comedy and drama to have ever been filmed - THE APARTMENT - in subtle ways - rises well above the conventions of any genre. It was my introduction to the great Billy Wilder, and my fondness for Jack Lemmon (a remarkable and sorely missed actor) begins here as well.


    The cold take on the sex-and-money ethos to be found in many corporate environments hasn't dated one bit; it could be argued that THE APARTMENT stands a bit ahead of its' time in the depiction of (what would appear to be) educated employees treated like (and feeling like) tools to be used in generation of someone else's income. Lemmon's character never forgets that he's disposable, even if the optimist in him hopes that something better may be found in his superiors. Deep down he knows this to be a pipe dream - the sexual adventurism of those same superiors betrays their utter lack of ethics. Of course, Lemmon's character isn't entirely above it all; he's been more than willing to hire out his own apartment as a place for his colleagues' peccadilloes, in exchange for career advancement, which of course - as Wilder early on links amoral sexual conduct and professional/corporate/financial misconduct in a greater social critique - gets him into trouble.

    The dialogue is - as is always true with Wilder - very finely crafted, yet seems natural - this film is a remarkable display of the kind of reactions any of us would offer in similar situations. Interestingly, our two protagonists are also wonderfully imperfect as human beings - Lemmon and MacLaine bear some responsibility for the very serious situations they've gotten themselves into; they manage to realize this ("Be a mensch!" Lemmon's doctor neighbor exclaims) just in time to set things right. MacLaine in particular delivers a remarkable, complex performance - sweet and smart in her earliest scenes, bleak and emotionally ravaged in her climactic scene with MacMurray, naive elsewhere, sharp but hopeful at the end. The cinematography captures the entire cast beautifully - with minimal movement, abundant long takes, and a sleek lack of visual clutter, all of the principals are free to reveal their own best and worst impulses, within an environment that is stripped of artifice. The end result is a film filled with great moments one can easily identify with.
  • cwelty115 October 2004
    A rare gem, this is a blessedly adult comedy with great performances, great writing and the kind of depth hardly ever seen in the more vapid, formulaic romantic comedies of today.
    Written by the great filmmaker Billy Wilder, this is a serious, sardonic comedy for people who've known what's its like to feel the pressure of compromising your principles or your self- respect for the sake of getting ahead in life. And there are very few over the age of consent who haven't had to at one time or another. This isn't the laugh out loud comedy of Jim Carrey or the Farrelly brothers, but a subtle, nuanced comedy about two people who have both been jaded in love and yet continue to hope again and again that it will someday work out for them -- mainly because despite the unlikeable things they do, they are both basically decent, nice people. Flawed and even weak at times, but good people. This is a movie that doesn't just make it you laugh, it makes you think. A rare find indeed.
  • moonspinner5528 June 2001
    Likewise, it's a love-fest Lemmon-wise
    One of the finest examples of smart, satiric comedy-drama ever created for the screen. Jack Lemmon (in amazing comic form) plays a working stiff in Corporate America--via New York City--whose bachelor apartment inadvertently becomes a love-nest for amorous, married executives. The film is extremely modern for 1960 and features a non-stop barrage of funny, clever talk. Lemmon is a mad genius at frenzied (yet sympathetic) characterization, and "The Apartment" catches him at his professional peak in the movies. Working alongside huggable neurotic Shirley MacLaine (also at her peak) and shady Fred MacMurray (parlaying his slimeball role with curt persuasion), Lemmon creates a new kind of acting: screwball realism. **** from ****
  • bkoganbing14 June 2006
    "I've Decided to Take My Doctor's Advice, I'm going to become a mensch."
    Warning: Spoilers
    In the recent biography of Billy Wilder by Ed Sikov, it is mentioned that for the first time Wilder used as his protagonist a lovable loser. Think about it. In a whole lot of his previous films the main lead in Ace in the Hole, Double Indemnity, Stalag 17 are the people who are the takers as Shirley MacLaine describes Fred MacMurray here.

    In The Apartment, it's the schnook that's took who the story focuses on. Jack Lemmon creates one of his immortal characters in C.C. Baxter, a minor cog in the machinery of the insurance company he works for.

    Lemmon has maybe found a way to move up the corporate ladder, but it's driving him nuts. He lives on West 67 Street in Manhattan, a most convenient location for kanoodling. Only it isn't him that kanoodles. One time he allowed one of the middle level managers to use his apartment for a little nookie. One guy tells another and so on and so on and pretty soon Lemmon can't call his place his own.

    In walks big boss Fred MacMurray to seemingly save the situation. But it turns out he only wants exclusive use for himself and he actually does vault Baxter several steps up the corporate ladder. And unfortunately MacMurray is currently kanoodling with elevator operator Shirley MacLaine who Lemmon has a thing for.

    The Apartment was years ahead of its time in that it was one of the first major films to deal with sexual harassment. The whole group of middle executives Ray Walston, David Lewis, Willard Waterman, David White and the big cheese Fred MacMurray just look on that insurance company as one gigantic harem. As typical for 1960 note there are no women in any managerial positions at all.

    Fred MacMurray almost didn't play Mr. Sheldrake. Paul Douglas was cast originally, but died suddenly just before shooting on The Apartment commenced. MacMurray stepped in and got great critical reviews for another effort with Billy Wilder as a heavy. MacMurray was also starting at this time a long run in the family comedy My Three Sons on television. There would be no more bad guys in his future.

    Billy Wilder held out in casting for Jack Kruschen as Doctor Dreyfus the next door neighbor who is available to save Shirley MacLaine's life. The folks at United Artists were ready to sign Groucho Marx for the part. Wilder's faith in Kruschen was justified, he got an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor, but lost to Peter Ustinov for Spartacus.

    Lemmon and MacLaine were also nominated for the leads, but failed to win. But The Apartment was chosen Best Film of 1960 and Billy Wilder was Best Director.

    Also look out for a biting performance by Edie Adams who really makes her role count as MacMurray's secretary and former flame. During a Christmas party she tips off MacLaine to MacMurray's philandering ways and then later on brings the house of cards all around Fred.

    The Apartment is so timeless in so many ways although women in the workplace have made great strides in the last 46 years. One thing though that does show how dated it is. It's mentioned that Lemmon pays $94.00 a month, presumably rent controlled, for a one bedroom apartment in the West Sixties in Manhattan.

    Now that is dated.
  • jtmudge30 July 2004
    Some Like it Dark - Wilder and Dark Comedy
    Warning: Spoilers
    Billy Wilder knew how to make a great movie. Of course it helps to have one of the greatest all-time actors, Jack Lemon, play in your movies, but Lemon aside, Wilder was a genius. His gift for the comedic moment showed brilliantly on screen and reached deep inside the audience.

    The Apartment, the last of the great Black and White films, showed a bit darker side to comedy than some of his other romps such as the hilarious Some Like It Hot. Some Like It Hot is just as funny today as it was in 1959. It is pure fun. At no point in the film are we approached with anything that we would take seriously. Let's face it, most of us are not running from the mob disguised as a member from the opposite sex.

    The Apartment, however, brings up much more human themes and issues. Wilder is an expert and at no time does he leave you worried that it will turn out badly. This is, after all, a comedy. One mistake in the script and the movie could quickly become a deep film about suicide, loneliness, and peer pressure, but Wilder balances the subjects on the edge of a knife and allows us to smile at what could otherwise be a very depressing movie.

    Wilder and his films like The Apartment are very similar to Shakespeare's comedies. It can be said that the difference between a Shakespeare comedy and tragedy is often not the story, but the ending. In a comedy, everyone is married; in a tragedy, everyone dies. the same is true with The Apartment, it all hinges on the outcomes. If Kubelik dies or Baxter is left alone, the movie would be a tragedy. But since they prevail in the end, the movie comes off as a great comedic success, albeit a bit dark.
  • Ford-kp13 April 2006
    I work on the 19th floor. Ordinary Policy Department, Premium Accounting Division, Section W, desk number 861…
    In the beginning of The Apartment we see C. C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) being lost in a sea of desks within a gigantic office room. He works for a huge New York insurance company employing over thirty thousand souls spread over twenty-seven floors. Sometimes he is working overtime; "It's not like I was overly ambitious..." Baxter tells us defensively. "You see, I have this little problem with my apartment… I can't always get in when I want to."

    The reason are several superiors, to whom he is lending his apartment for their extra-marital escapades. In exchange they promise to give his career a push by passing recommendations to the personnel manager, Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray). Although Buddy Boy (that's his disrespectful yet firmly established nickname) is daily surrounded by hundreds of people, he is drowning in lonesomeness. Apart from his mocking colleagues, there does not seem to be any family or close friends. In fact, the only decent person among his acquaintances is his neighbour, Dr. Dreyfuss (Jack Kruschen), ironically under the wrong impression that the man next door is a womanizing drunkard.

    So Baxter meekly adapts to the mercilessness of corporate life, putting all hopes of happiness into his career. His free evenings consist of watching TV, preparing dinner or cleaning up after the occupants of his apartment. Yes, one could say that Baxter does not exactly lead a joyful life.

    Yet, there is something, or rather somebody carrying light into the loner's gloominess when he falls in love with the pretty elevator girl Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Although Fran likes him for his decency and kindness, she does not quite share the feelings of her ardent admirer. But Buddy Boy refuses to notice any signs of unrequited love and eventually talks her into going out with him. You can imagine how Baxter feels when she fails to turn up, and how things get significantly worse when he finds out that she is actually having intimate meetings with the personnel manager Mr. Sheldrake in HIS apartment. The image of purity Baxter had of Fran is gone. On Christmas Eve, he decides to drown his broken heart in a bar while his apartment is occupied by the cause of his misery. But Fran doesn't feel any happier than Baxter, and with the depressing effect Christmas can have on the lonesome and desperate, the story threatens to take a turn into tragedy...

    It is hard to pin The Apartment on a single genre. The sharp, witty dialogue as well as Jack Lemmon's hilarious mimic would hint at a romantic comedy. Yet, one cannot overlook the tragic elements which let us dive into thoughtfulness, but never too deeply. Then again the film works on a satiric level, operating as cynical social commentary on corporate culture in the sixties (which is not very unlike today's business life). The remarkable thing about this film is that these three qualities merge perfectly into each other without ever losing the balance. The Apartment is a most entertaining picture, sometimes rushing from one hilarity to the next, and then suddenly slowing down to leave room for contemplation. Sometimes uplifting, sometimes depressing, sometimes both at the same time. Billy Wilder mixed these contrary moods, and most amazingly, it worked out just fine.

    First and foremost The Apartment deals with loneliness and the everlasting search for unaccomplished love. "I used to live like Robinson Crusoe. I mean shipwrecked among 8 million people. And then one day I saw a footprint in the sand and there you were." Baxter tells Ms Kubelik. Does any relationship ever work out the way one dreamed it would? Additionally the film points out how people let themselves be treated badly out of total lack of self-esteem. Standing up for oneself and saying the simple word "no" can sometimes be an art of its own.

    As an able filmmaker and scriptwriter (together with I. A. L. Diamond, "Some like it Hot"), Billy Wilder once again produced a film classic of outstanding quality. I have yet to see another picture, equally consistent at providing such humorous and well-timed dialogues. The amount of memorable quotes is remarkable and the entire cast did a terrific job at delivering them. Moreover, Wilder chose to shoot in black and white widescreen, shining with beautiful cinematography, and thereby gave the film a very special melancholy mood.

    Maybe the greatest strength of The Apartment is its honesty. It doesn't lie to us by painting images of perfect love or of perfect people. Neither does it create scenarios of utter hopelessness. However, it shows us that although life can be unfair on default, everyone is responsible for oneself to work up the courage to achieve happiness. With the director's cynical, yet comic approach to life, the film takes itself serious and it doesn't. It lets us taste the bitter and the sweet, thereby lending itself a tone of reality. For that reason alone I don't feel cheated by The Apartment and its story never failed to cheer me up. Then again, I may be too much of a pessimistic optimist.
  • Primtime14 August 1999
    Another Wilder classic
    Jack Lemmon is the man.

    The Apartment really surprised me. The Best Picture winner starts off right in the middle of the action, but yet the first hour seems long and overrun. Too much time seems spent in trying to develop the characters (and oh so many of them) and not enough time is spent on just seeing what will happen. Just when I was about to lose faith, the film picks it up like I have never seen before. The whole sub-plot of the four guys wanting to use Lemmon's apartment for their evening tyrsts is dropped and Wilder smartly concentrates on Lemmon, MacLaine and MacMurray and the film creates true magic.

    The Apartment is more of a drama than a comedy and balances the two elements perfectly. Just after one of the more dramatic moments of the film, we see Lemmon straining his pasta with a tennis racquet. The use of the doctor and his wife in supporting roles are completely there for comedy and yet add so much to the film. The ending also rates up there with the best of all time using an old device that doesn't seem at all cliched in this film. Some say that "Some like it hot" was Wilder's best, but now I have to disagree. The Apartment is better and surely would have made my top ten had the first hour not been so predictable.

    How Jack Lemmon didn't win Best Actor is beyond me. His is a great performance, getting to act on more than one scale. MacMurray, another Wilder favourite is perfectly cast in the role of a family-wrecker. I wish they would have put a scene in which his wife confronts him with "The News". MacLaine glows on the screen even when she is sick and in bed.

    I fully recommend this film to all, it being Wilder's best makes it a must see.

    8/10 stars.
  • Kat Miss24 May 2001
    Billy Wilder's "The Apartment is his greatest accomplishment. It is his most successful melding of comedy and drama that he never quite pulled off again. I'm glad the Academy had enough good taste to award Wilder The Triple Crown: Best Picture/Director/Screenplay. But they still had enough bad taste to deny Jack Lemmon a Best Actor award, Shirley MacLaine a Best Actress award and Fred MacMurray a nomination and award.

    The plot this time: C.C. Baxter (Lemmon; in case you're wondering: "C for Calvin C for Clifford, but most people call me "Bud")lends out his apartment to executives for their extramarital trysts in the faint hope of a promotion. Eventually, his boss, Sheldrake (MacMurray, excellent in a rare straight role) finds out and wants the key for his own affairs. Meanwhile, Baxter has a crush on Miss Kubelik (MacLaine, in a strong performance)the elevator operator.

    For those who accuse me of spoiling the whole movie: rest assured. This only covers the first 20 minutes or so of the 126 minute feature. Wilder has many twists and tricks up his sleeve and I'll leave you to discover what happens. What amazes me about "The Apartment" is that unlike most films, this isn't about the plot. It's a study in human nature and the mistakes they make. That is a strong trait of most Wilder films (including "Kiss Me, Stupid" and "The Fortune Cookie", both hilarious comedies with a hidden meaning)

    Also the dialogue by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond isn't just one-liners (although they are funny; especially when spoken by Lemmon and Ray Walston)There is real heartfelt sentiment here and it isn't the syrupy kind that makes my stomach churn (as in films like "Patch Adams") Wilder allows enough to make his points and then gets back to comedy.

    The cinematography is fabulous too. Wilder's film (as most of his 60s films) is in widescreen Black and White (shot by Joseph LaShelle, in Panavision; one of the most unsung and unrecognized cinematographers in history, he was nominated but lost) It has a crisp,clean look and is one of the few widescreen films that actually make the viewer feel confined in a tight space.

    "The Apartment" is a superior example of the "serious comedy", films that work as both comedy and drama. Sadly, many of today's filmmakers have lost touch with this genre. I can't help but feel that the freedoms granted today that weren't in the 1950s and 60s haven't been an advance. They've been holding us back. Smart characters have lost way to stupid and oversexed ones. That's a real shame and it's high time we go back to our roots.

    **** out of 4 stars
  • DukeofPearl13 January 1999
    The definitive movie for the comedy/drama genre
    Billy Wilder's "The Apartment" is a film which can produce some of the biggest laughs and at the same time... can bring many viewers to tears, Billy Wilder's quaint little tale about everyday people who get tangled up in love, jealousy and infidelity boasts a top-notch cast led by the trio of Lemmon, MacLaine and MacMurray who are tremendous. The plot revolves around C.C. (Lemmon) who unknowingly makes the unethical attempt of climbing the corporate ladder by 'loaning' his apartment to members from his management chain to entertain their 'women on the side'. Given the change of circumstances, this premise certainly could even hit home in the current office environment. Although the office party and secretarial gossip scenes could be viewed as dated, the power and attitude of the corporate executive, Mr. Sheldrake (MacMurray) is certainly symbolic. The character of Fran (MacLaine) for today's standards of course seems too submissive and vulnerable but the reward of her finding true, admirable, unconditional companionship is quite enriching and fulfilling to any who see this memorable film.
  • Red-Barracuda10 December 2013
    Light comedy with a darkness underneath
    Warning: Spoilers
    Baxter, an office worker, makes his apartment available to philandering executives at his office in order to move up the corporate ladder. Things become complicated when his boss takes an elevator girl Baxter has taken a shine to back to his pad.

    In this Billy Wilder film, Jack Lemmon is on hand with another effective comic performance. He seemed to be good at playing under-dog characters .We root for him here even though we know he is a bit of a weasel that bends over backwards for unlikable bosses. It's testament to Lemmon's charisma that we are never in doubt that he is a sympathetic character. He is more than matched by Shirley Maclaine here as the elevator girl, though. She was an elfin beauty and it's very easy to understand Baxter's infatuation with her. She is probably the best thing in this film to be honest. Her character undergoes the most extreme story arc, where she veers from comic scenes to an attempted suicide. It's because of this especially that The Apartment is a light film that has some pretty dark undercurrents. The central plot-line was pretty racy stuff for its time as well, with the apartment of the title being a den of iniquity and vice. But on the whole it's pretty light-hearted despite this. But it's often when it gets darker that it gets more interesting, the whole post-suicide attempt sequence was probably the best part of the film. The drama often outweighs the comedy in this one. While it is a romantic comedy, it's not really full of laughs and the plot-line is more melancholic a lot of the time. It also displays a definite cynicism towards the practices of big business in their carefree immorality and misogyny. It's probably a little overlong in fairness and some of the side characters and comedy don't add too much. But overall it's good enough, if perhaps a little over-rated.
  • RanchoTuVu7 September 2004
    corporate sex ladder
    A struggling office worker in a giant insurance company lends his apartment to higher ups in order to get a promotion. Set during the Holidays, the theme of infidelity turned a lot of viewers off. The Holiday setting however is what provides a lot of the film's best scenes, as in the fantastic office Christmas party where the secretaries are doing a CanCan on the table and couples are making out in the corner. The one-two punch of Jack Lemmon's classic performance and that of Fred MacMurray is fabulous, and the triangle of sorts that forms with Shirley McClaine makes this much more than the comedy that it is known for.
  • calvinnme24 July 2015
    It's lost a step over time, but still satisfies even if it does not surprise
    This film was groundbreaking in the sense that it dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace in a way that was quite realistic for 1960. All the women are in menial jobs at the insurance company where Jack Lemmon's character works, and all of the executives are men. The executives look at their female workforce as one big harem and won't let a little thing like the fact that they are married and intend to stay that way interfere with their stepping out from time to time. This is where C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) comes in. He trades the use of his apartment to these executives in return for promotions and perks. However, Baxter has an attack of conscience when he comes face-to-face with the collateral damage that one of these executives is doing in the person of Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Fran, the elevator operator, has just found out she is one of many affairs for big boss Mr. Sheldrake (Fred McMurray), whom she genuinely loves, and when she and Sheldrake quarrel in Baxter's apartment and Sheldrake leaves her some money for her troubles, unintentionally making her feel even cheaper than she already feels she swallows a bottle of sleeping pills hoping not to wake up, slipping into a coma on Baxter's bed.

    Things I noticed - this film has lost something with the passage of time in the shock value that was, I think, part of the original appeal. But it still has some outstanding acting, some personal redemption and transformation that people just love to see on film, and kudos to Mr. McMurray for portraying an authentic heel, leading women on and leading a double life without a tinge of conscience, phoning to inquire about his mistress' health on Christmas Day as he is busy playing with his children at home. Without this entry under his belt I would have always doubted his range as he was the perennial nice guy in almost every other role he ever had.

    Did you also notice a business world and a New York that is gone forever? Nobody adds numbers by hand - or by computer for that matter - any more, elevators have long been run by machines, and the entire floor of people that Baxter worked on would today be replaced by computers. Also notice that Baxter has a very middling job - at least at first - and yet lives comfortably sans roommate to share expenses in an apartment IN Manhattan. Those were the days.
  • Det_McNulty27 October 2006
    One Of the Finest Scripts Ever Written, and Jack Lemmon Creates One Of The Greatest Character Performances As The Wonderful C.C. Baxter
    For me Billy Wilder has always been one of my all time favourite directors and he has not made a single film that has not appealed to me. Billy Wilder sums up perfection all his films manage to succeed in what they set out to do. Billy Wilder is not just one of the greatest directors; he is also one of the finest scriptwriters ever. Creating flowing dialogue like no other and perfectly making his actors and actresses work with the script brilliantly. Billy Wilder has made dark noirs, hilarious musicals and studies of human nature. It is extremely difficult to fully describe a director as versatile and genius as Billy Wilder. His films have held up for generations and will continue to have the same mass appeal that his films have had since their opening days.

    On the surface The Apartment might seem like a comedy and yes that's what it is on the surface. Once you start watching The Apartment you realise that actually it is a very dark film underneath and actually has characters that contemplate suicide. The fact is that The Apartment captures the realism of the everyday workman and makes you laugh as well as feel pity. The script is what keeps the film moving and shows how the characters in The Apartment change as the film progresses. The Apartment is about becoming somebody rather than being something that someone uses.

    Jack Lemmon creates C.C. Baxter the young aspiring workman who just wants to have a good career and the perfect woman. Though something always goes wrong and he's perfectly able to get a woman, but not the one he wants. At times you pity C.C. Baxter because he's so kind to everyone and never gets the thing he wants in return because something will always get in the way. I think there are times in every man's life where you probably feel like C.C. Baxter in one way or another.

    Jack Lemmon perfectly progresses with his character to make himself one of the most distinguishable character actors ever. Jack Lemmon works with an elegant skill at comedic performances and always captures the true essence of his characters. He seems to be one of those actors who are able to find the perfect chemistry with his fellow cast. What makes C.C. Baxter so brilliant is the fact he stands for everything the film is about. He becomes one of the mot uplifting and joyous ever put on screen. Shirley MacLaine is also excellent as the lovable Fran Kubelik (C.C. Baxter's heartthrob). From first impressions you'd think she is a beautiful and happy women, but she's actually very different to what you might expect.

    The script is fast paced, memorable and most of all it helps sum up all the characters so well. It's a script that works so easily with its actors and helps to make some of the most superb character situations. The script is realistic as well and actually does feel like the kind of talk that would be used in similar situations in life. The script is extremely natural and the subtle undertones prove Billy Wilder's crafting of intellectual film-making.

    The film is actually very similar to that of its A Wonderful Life and you could say Jack Lemmon is very similar to that of James Stewart. The direction is simple and fulfilling. It captures the image of "the apartment" perfectly and though just like any other New York apartment it feels extremely likable and memorable. The film's use of music is another high point and feels perfectly hand picked for the scenes it's used in. The film is actually quite sexually vibrant and does have many sexual undertones in its dialogue. Though subtle, it definitely is there and perfectly helps add more subtext to the film as a whole. A film to be studied in depth and not just watched.

    A film that never gets old and always manages to make the viewer feel uplifted with happiness. A first class example of perfected film-making you're ever going to see. Yes it's a definitive must-see, a masterpiece that was way ahead of its time and much more than just a movie.
  • jdoan-41 May 2006
    A precise satire
    Billy Wilder has made some tremendous satires. "Sunset Boulevard" is one of the greatest satires on film. "The Apartment", though not as cynical, is a very good one as well. I like that the satire is a backdrop for the main love story, and yet an integral part of it. The film shows just how much people are will to prostitute themselves in order to get what they want, whether that be a family or an executive office. Wilder handles some very serious and bawdy themes with a precise touch. This film could have easily turned into a wacky comedy of errors, but he is much to talented and sympathetic for that. He gives Baxter's character some sincere emotional depth. I could almost feel his loneliness and longing in many scenes. He is never really sure what he wants and how he can get it. He is a man searching for something, and he doesn't quite know it. Lemon plays this role to perfection. He doesn't go overboard. He gives the character the right amount of silliness and charm. McClaine is very strong. Her character is not stereotyped. She is a wounded soul that is looking for respite in the absolutely wrong place. I found her very charming and lovable. Some much of the film is in the wonderful cinematography. Wilder uses the widescreen to its fullest capability. The framing is so precise. You get a feeling of utter separation and distance. I really like the nearly infinite succession of desks in the office.
  • Andy (film-critic)21 September 2005
    ...and then one day I saw a footprint in the sand and there you were.
    I would first like to make the comment that this is no comedy. For those that consider this film a valuable part of Hollywood cinema due to the comedic aspects need to get their eyes examined along with their minds. I do not think that I laughed at all during this film, but I would like to mention that I do not think that is a bad thing. Not laughing at this film means that it hit you at a different level. I witnessed a beautiful film with some highly intelligent actors painting a dark and disturbing picture of a sexual world circa 1960. I suppose I was thinking that this was going to be a "screwball" comedy, which completely threw me off balance when the events of this film occurred. Never have I witnessed such a bold attack on the sexual revolution of the 60s and its effect on the business world. It was a slap in the face to see the way that Billy Wilder represented corporate America and honestly, it felt really good. To see this lonely man turned away from his apartment at all hours of the night because his boss needed a place to take their mistresses was sad, not funny, yet in The Apartment it worked beautifully.

    To begin, this film revolved around the actors. If you would not have had such strong actors like Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray honestly conquering their roles than this film would not have succeeded as it did. It won Oscars for a reason, and even watched by today's standard of Hollywood I think that everyone involved should be very proud. Their work was the best Hollywood had to offer. Lemmon successfully portrayed this hurt every-man that you could easily find yourself engulfed within. MacLaine, beautiful in her young age, was an emotional powerhouse. Her eyes could have told the story without any words. You could feel her emotions through her eyes, and it was outstanding. I must say that my favorite actor in this entire film was Fred MacMurray. His portrayal of the typical "boss" who seems to use his powers to control instead of help, was perfect. In fact, even if you watch the film today, you may still be able to see your boss in MacMurray's portrayal. For once, it was a solid cast. It had a structured story that was heightened by sublime actors that knew exactly what they needed to do. I would have to say that this is one of the greatest pairings in cinema history, these three together could have taken Hollywood by storm, and it is evident in The Apartment.

    As I stated before, the characters are exceptional, but coupled with their performances is a rich story that seems developed well before its time. I was not expecting to see such a sexual driven film released from the 60s. Films of this nature typically hint towards sex, but never quite spell it out, but in The Apartment it is in your face throughout the course of the film. From the opening sequence until the end, sex seems to be the biggest underlying theme of this film. In the world of C.C. Baxter, all he seems to know is sex, business, and the occasional conversation with the elevator girl. You can't help but wonder if that wasn't what was going through the minds of our fathers as they headed to the corporate world on a daily basis. It was such a slap to the face of the day to day America. To think that in this nation portrayed with family values and moral uprising that The Apartment would emerge as the breakout film of 1960. It shocked me. I think the reason that it did so was because of the strong writing, the powerful story, and the emergence of such innocent "characters" (as mentioned above). There were moments during this film that I honestly wanted to walk into the television, tell everyone to stop, and explain what was happening because I didn't want anyone to get hurt in the end. Isn't that a sign of a long-lasting powerful film? To me it is.

    Overall, I must say that The Apartment left my jaw on the floor. While my wife will disagree with me, I thought that it was a brilliant moment in cinematic history. Jack Lemmon could not have been handed a greater roll, nor could he have pulled it off with such beauty and pizazz. The story will shock and amaze you for nearly two hours. We are taken into a world in which we feel comfortable in, we feel as if we have been there before, and we can only thank the imaginative mind of Billy Wilder for that. He takes those moments in our lives that we wholeheartedly want to forget and places them in the window for all to see. His mockery of corporations, of the small man working his way to the top, and the disasters that follow are nothing short of classic. I have never witnessed a film quite like this and I hope I never do again. The Apartment was a once in a lifetime enjoyment, and I cannot wait to revisit it soon to see what I may have missed!

    Grade: ***** out of *****
  • George Wright3 March 2013
    Bosses and employees conflict in a New York insurance company
    The Apartment is a story that sparkles with a scintillating script, humour, and interesting characters as employees of a large insurance company come into conflict with each other. The story set in mid-20th century Manhattan is considered a "classic". The acting, the mix of characters and script are outstanding. New York City, 1959 is written all over it. The bar scenes, the office Christmas party, the walk-up apartment on the Upper West Side, the White Plains home of one of the executives all evoke the era.

    Jack Lemmon is C.C. Baxter a young employee trying to climb the greasy pole of success in a huge Manhattan insurance company. Shirley MacLaine is Fran Kubelik, an elevator operator in the company's office skyscraper, who falls in love with one of the higher-ups, and Fred McMurray is Jeff Sheldrake, director of personnel. All deliver great performances with a strong supporting cast.

    The movie presents the characters, particularly Kubelik and Baxter,in ethical dilemmas and as the movie goes along, we see these two come to grips with how they are living out their lives. A great movie by director Billy Wilder, who created some heavyweight movies like Double Indemnity, The Lost Weekend, Some Like It Hot, and Sunset Boulevard. The movie held my interest from scene to scene. It is superbly acted, and very funny.
  • markdroulston15 June 2011
    They don't make 'em like this anymore
    Billy Wilder's The Apartment was one of a huge list of movies that are considered classics which I haven't seen, and indeed knew very little about (other than the level of admiration which many people have for it). Having a vague knowledge of the stars of the film (Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine), for one reason or another I was expecting a light-hearted comedy filled with innuendo and witty banter, a tradition of filmmaking that was common around the period when this film was released. Thankfully I wasn't disappointed, as these elements are all in play in The Apartment, but what really thrilled and surprised me was the much more serious subject matter that the film deals with. To say this is simply a comedy is completely false, as it's a somewhat dark and daring study of the nature of love and infidelity, and the stunning performances and filmmaking on display had me enthralled from the first frame.

    The film certainly begins as a comedy. C.C. Baxter (Lemmon) is a young bachelor trying to ascend the corporate ladder by allowing a group of his superiors to use his apartment for their extra-marital liaisons. After he falls for charismatic elevator attendant Fran (MacLaine), who is engaged in an illicit relationship with Mr. Sheldrake, the married head of the company, Baxter tries to free himself from the demands of his bosses, with hilarious results. While this is certainly risqué subject matter (for 1960), the film takes an unexpectedly sombre turn when Fran makes a suicide attempt in the apartment after learning the truth behind Sheldrake's motives. What follows is a touching, and at times heart-wrenching flowering of Baxter and Fran's relationship, and if the ending is a little predictable, the journey getting there is really something wonderful.

    The Apartment features an excellent selection of fully-formed support characters, but the film really belongs to Lemmon and MacLaine. Lemmon's reputation as cinema's greatest everyman is really on show here, and it's impossible not to root for him and sympathise with his plight. Playing Baxter as a charming yet awkward underdog, his character is the embodiment of the 'nice guys finish last' maxim, and although some elements of his life may be a little shady to say the least, Lemmon is flawless. MacLaine is completely up to Lemmon's high standard as Fran, effortlessly making audiences fall in love with her just as Baxter has. She's just so damn cute that even when she's recovering from an overdose of sleeping pills, she exudes such a potent 'girl next door' allure that can't be avoided. Her chemistry with Lemmon is palpable, and when they inevitably end up together, it's one of those truly satisfying romantic moments seen all too rarely in modern cinema.

    I'm not usually one to get nostalgic when it comes to film periods, but while I do have great fondness for many more recent romantic comedies, Hollywood really doesn't make movies like The Apartment any more. Wilder's screenplay (co-written with I.A.L. Diamond) is clever, witty and engaging, particularly in the subtle motifs and unique idiosyncrasies of all the characters, and the film is just so expertly crafted. I'm determined now to seek out more Wilder films, along with catching up on my Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. I can't recommend The Apartment highly enough!
  • pyrocitor8 January 2008
    Surprisingly downbeat but ultimately rewarding comic drama
    In an age of cinema thriving on relatively simple black and white tales of right and wrong, director Billy Wilder had always stood out as daring to recognize the ambiguity in characters and situations, making his films more difficult to classify than those of his contemporaries. And while Wilder's follow up to the tremendously successful Some Like It Hot may be visually black and white (the last best picture winner in over thirty years made without colour) its classification is far more elusive than such simplistic terms. Part corporate satire, part character study, part societal critique, part comedy, part tragedy, all melding together for a superbly emotionally affecting effort , The Apartment proves to be one of Wilder's finest works in a career inundated with tremendous successes.

    Contrary to its reputation as one of the funniest films of its era, and its jovial sounding plot of a businessman (Lemmon) attempting to rise in the office by lending his apartment to superiors having extramarital trysts, The Apartment is no light watch, coming across as surprisingly dark and morose even when viewed in a contemporary context, let alone for its time. Tackling such heavy themes as suicide and existentialism in a surprisingly straightforward fashion for its time, Wilder works in some stellar instances of expressionist lighting to add to the frequently melancholy mood, as the viewer's heart leaps out to the genuinely sympathetic characters.

    But this heartbreaking drama only makes the perfectly honed laughs all the more necessary and effective, with Wilder and co-screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond's brilliant one-liners cutting through the tragic overtones with snappy wit and bristling punch (Wilder even gets a sly dig in at reportedly difficult former star Marilyn Monroe, and the closing line "Shut up and deal" has become a classic, paralleling its predecessor in Some Like it Hot). Far from being a simple comedy or drama, The Apartment blends the two seamlessly, in a bold emotional balancing act, truly showcasing the saving power of laughter. While in the midst of balancing the tragic and the comic, the film may occasionally lose its emotional poignancy, such is a small complaint in such a phenomenally impressive work.

    Jack Lemmon is pitch perfect for the role of constantly downtrodden but tenaciously upbeat everyman C.C. Baxter - his tremendously endearing charisma captures the viewer's heart as he chuckles through countless struggles, a cheery testament to perseverance through hard times. Shirley MacLaine gives a powerful and moving performance as Fran Kubelik, a woman struggling to make good in a one sided relationship, act outside the confines of her gender and make sense of the increasingly bleak world around her. MacLaine's offbeat charm makes her a perfectly sympathetic and endearing foil to Lemmon, with whom she shares superb chemistry. Fred MacMurray, playing savagely against type, is a scream as shamelessly self-serving corporate boss Sheldrake. MacMurray's snappy timing is put to uncommonly caustic, but just as effective use, stealing most of the scenes he appears in. Jack Kruschen and Naomi Stevens similarly raise many a laugh as Baxter's distrustful neighbours.

    Alternating between staggeringly funny and heart-wrenchingly downbeat, Wilder's masterful achievement easily justifies the countless accolades bestowed upon it. With a sharp script surprisingly daring for its time, and an enormously charismatic lead trio of actors, The Apartment makes its mark as easily one of the most moving, sporadically comical, and ultimately human films of its time.

  • charle-229 March 2006
    A lovely gem - with some hard edges!
    Warning: Spoilers
    I've admired The Apartment for a long time, and watching it again last night reinforced all the good feelings. Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray all give wonderful performances, full of nuance and grace. Billy Wilder's direction flows effortlessly between sharp satire (e.g. the treatment of the four philandering managers) and touching human drama (e.g. the doctor repeatedly slapping Shirley MacLaine to bring her back from an overdose of sleeping pills). The writing is great.

    (It's interesting to watch The Apartment as a period piece. You have to factor out Billy Wilder's satirical exaggerations - the long rows of anonymous workers at their desks, etc - but you can still see things about working life in the 50's that would make us shudder today. For example, when Jack Lemmon admits that he looked up Shirley MacLaine's insurance information, there is only a tiniest hint of disapproval from her, instead of the outrage we would expect somebody to feel today at such a blatant invasion of privacy.)
  • giovannifalcone29 March 2002
    Have you ever been down-and-out?
    Of course you have, so I don't have to spend many words on it. The question is: do antidotes exist? Please watch Fran rushing to C.C. (I still can hear the music, can you?) and if you don't agree, please write me and I'll pay your ticket back.

    Once Billy Wilder said that if a director managed to keep for two hours people far away from their troubles, he had done his task. Today I read that he left us. 'Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince: And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!'

    10/10 to this movie and to B.W.
  • wilderfan18 January 2005
    "Some people take, others get took"
    C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is an employee in a huge corporation. To promote himself, he lends out his apartment to his superiors so they can have extramarital affairs. Things get complicated when he falls in love with Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the mistress of his boss, JD Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray).

    I first saw The Apartment when I was 17 years old. I instantly liked it, but it would never have occurred to me to label it "my favourite film". It isn't cinematic ally dazzling. It doesn't feature any of my favourite actors. It doesn't push the boundaries of what's acceptable in film. Yet over the next thirteen years, I kept getting drawn back to it- because I could see the parallels that it had with my own life. This is a story about priorities and the bittersweet nature of relationships that I found to be haunting. Not bad for a comedy.

    The best way to see this movie is a letterboxed DVD. It captures the intimacy of the characters better than the cinema experience and the loneliness of the spaces surrounding them better than a pan and scan version.

    Jack Lemmon was a theatrically trained actor who gave his all and took quite a few critical hits for it (and praise too; he won several acting prizes). The Apartment contains most of his finest work as Wilder keeps him under firm control. Lemmon finds the right tone and understands the material perfectly. In interviews, he remarked of the ending: "Billy threw a rose into a garbage pail". C.C. Baxter is an engaging character, although he can be a little overbearing at times. Lemmon is at his best in the quieter moments- that perfect stone face he projects as he says "I said I had no family. I didn't say I had an empty apartment". At times, he doesn't seem to be in control of his own body- witness him dancing around like somebody else is pulling the strings.

    Shirley MacLaine is wonderful as Fran. She stays totally focused on the person she's talking to and delivers her dialogue sharply. You get a real sense of loss when Fran attempts suicide, because you don't pity her. MacLaine is totally unsentimental here- it's more an attempt to get somebody's attention than self-annihilation.

    Fred MacMurray's best two film roles were for Wilder (this and Double Indemnity (1944)) and the director uses him for maximum effect. Probably the most sordid scene in the film is family Christmas scene as Sheldrake's son opens his presents and has just discovered the word "profligate"- it's very subversive watching the all-American dad being a philanderer and a liar. MacMurray embodies everyday, uncaring, ordinary meanness here. You can see the charm and power that makes him attractive to women like Fran. You can also see the transparent snake-oil salesmanship that alienates him from people who know better and don't have to be nice to him.

    What I love about Billy Wilder's films (and this one in particular) is the fact that you don't have to make any allowances for him. More than any other director of his era, Wilder deals with the basic elements of humanity and these never date. Although The Apartment is a film very much of its time in its setting (Sheldrake getting his shoe shined by a black man) and references (a secretary complains that she can't rendezvous with her boss because The Untouchables is on TV that night), it seems more modern than ever. I can't think of another film that depicts life choices as realistically and as entertainingly as this one does. I've related to this film in so many ways. I've often been too eager to please and unsure whether people like me or what I do for them. I've had a crush on a co-worker who didn't return my affections. I'm often helping out damaged women. I think the movie captures the bittersweet nature of life perfectly.

    I revisit The Apartment once a year. Watching it is like revisiting an old friend who sets you straight. This isn't a film for everyone (despite winning a Best Picture Oscar)- it often leaves a sour aftertaste to people who may find some elements objectionable. Yet it fits in with my jaundiced but romantically hopeful view of life and that's why it's my favourite movie.
  • Spuzzlightyear25 July 2005
    This Old Apartment
    The Apartment is a movie I'm not 100% sure I like or not. I just LOVE the cast mind you.. Jack Lemmon! Shirley Maclaine! Fred Macmurray! I guess it must be how sad everyone is during this movie. Oh sure, there seems to be some sort of resolvement in the end, but aside from that, everyone seems to just go through life's rituals in the most routine way possible. The ironic thing is that for the very few people that are NOT sad sacks, are the ones who are somewhat immoral, and cheating on their wives and what not. Or, when you're drunk, or both. Take a look at the Christmas party at C.C. Baxter's company during Christmas time. Compare it with any other time, where it's deadly serious and quiet. So why is it that the sadder ones have the more worries and the more happy ones seem to fly by without a care in the world? I'm not sure, and I think this is one of the problems leaves up to the viewer, which I think is quite brilliant. Jack Lemmon is, what he always seems to be, and that's brilliant. Shirley Maclaine is quite good here as well, playing with a certain edge I haven't seen her portray before. And Fred Macmurray seems to be having a ball again playing someone with absolutely no scruples whatsoever (aka Double Indemnity).
  • hall89528 April 2011
    This is a comedy?
    When it comes to movies people love to make lists of the best this and best that. You've probably seen The Apartment on plenty of best comedies lists. Which begs the question who ever decided this was a comedy? The Apartment isn't a bad movie but it's not a funny one. To even call it a comedy-drama would be a stretch as the comedy to drama ratio skews far, far away from the comedic side of things. There are no big laughs here. There are barely even any mild chuckles. Which again is not to say this is a bad movie. It's just that if all you know about The Apartment is that you've seen it on best comedies lists you are in for quite a surprise when you actually watch it. If you're in the mood for some lighthearted comedic amusement you have definitely come to the wrong film.

    Our story follows office drone C.C. Baxter whose means of getting ahead in life is to loan out his apartment to higher-ups at his company for their extramarital trysts. The big boss, Mr. Sheldrake, gets wind of the arrangement and he wants in on the deal. Baxter gets a big promotion, Sheldrake gets a place to carry on with his latest in a string of office mistresses. Only this mistress, probably like all before her, is convinced that Sheldrake is going to divorce his wife to be with her. Fat chance. When she discovers the truth this supposed comedy, which really hasn't been funny at all to this point, takes a darker turn. At this point any hopes a viewer might have had for fun and laughs from one of the "best comedies ever" disappear.

    And what of C.C. Baxter? He has his own connection with Sheldrake's mistress. Well, at least he'd like to. He's got a kind of hopeless schoolboy crush on her and when he discovers she's Sheldrake's girl his illusions are shattered. What's worse is that he knows Sheldrake's just using the girl but he dare not say anything. A guy's got to look out for his career you know? Eventually when, in a rather dire way, circumstances change Baxter may have to take a stand. Here at least the film picks up a bit of drama. Still looking for the comedy though.

    Your enjoyment of The Apartment will likely be related to your expectations. If what you're expecting is a great comedy you're going to be disappointed. But if you know going in what it is you're getting yourself into there is much to appreciate. The best thing the film has to offer is the performance of Jack Lemmon as Baxter. It's a great portrayal of a hapless office schnook constantly being taken advantage of. People walk all over Baxter and you can't help but feel for the guy. Lemmon gives the character great heart. And whatever little moments of comedy there are come from him. He's a performer who knows how to draw out a smile from the viewer. Fred MacMurray as Sheldrake and Shirley MacLaine as the girl in the middle of it all are also quite good. Not as memorable as Lemmon perhaps but no quibbles with their performances. The quibbles come with the story itself and with the film's billing as a comedy. Initially the film looks like it's setting itself up for some funny, if tawdry, bed-hopping shenanigans. But the laughs never really come. And the story ultimately veers down some surprisingly dark paths. How this is considered a great comedy I'll never quite understand. Not a bad movie though for what it is.
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