Fran Kubelik: I never catch colds.
C.C. Baxter: Really? I was reading some figures from the Sickness and Accident Claims Division. You know that the average New Yorker between the ages of twenty and fifty has two and a half colds a year?
Fran Kubelik: That makes me feel just terrible.
C.C. Baxter: Why?
Fran Kubelik: Well, to make the figures come out even, if I have no colds a year, some poor slob must have five colds a year.
C.C. Baxter: Yeah... it's me.
This is a great movie. It's a broad thing to declare right off the bat, but this is a great movie. It's been talked about for years, but I'm gonna try to apply some of my own words to it anyway. This is a comedy that hits many dark and dramatic beats as well. It features very good, funny, and witty dialogue. There are some great performances here. And the whole thing manages to come together very well.
Insurance statistician C.C. "Bud" Baxter, played by Jack Lemmon, advances his career by making his Manhattan apartment available to executives in his company for their extramarital affairs. His boss, Jeff D. Sheldrake, played by Fred MacMurray, finds out and promotes Bud in return for the exclusive use of the apartment for his own affair. When Sheldrake's girlfriend turns out to be Fran Kubelik, played by Shirley MacLaine, a pretty elevator operator Bud likes, he is heartbroken, but continues to deal with the arrangement.
C.C. Baxter: Ya know, 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.
This film really seals my love for Jack Lemmon. He's just a great actor who knows how to sell it. He knows how to portray a certain lovable quality despite his emotional state, which always puts you in a sense of understanding for him. What also helps is his way of performing. This is a noticeably prop heavy film, and Lemmon has a gift for physical acting as well, which is quite impressive.
Also strongly benefiting the film is MacLaine. Young Shirley MacLaine is a woman I have a crush on. She has a way of being pretty, funny, and spunky as Fran the elevator girl. However, when the film calls for it, MacLaine is able to imbue a sense of sadness in her character that is quite effective. Make no mistake, despite the strong billing of this film as a comedy, there is a lot of dark material at play here, involving adultery and attempted suicide, and its a credit to the strength of these leads that the film works very well.
Fran Kubelik: I was jinxed from the word go. The first time I was ever kissed was in a cemetery.
Supporting performances are all solid as well, which includes everyone's favorite father figure - Fred MacMurray, once again stepping back into a dark role that Billy Wilder has provided him, as the Mr. Sheldrake who toys with Fran's emotions as he cheats on his wife. Good work from Jack Kruschen as well as Baxter's neighbor and helpful doctor.
Dr. Dreyfuss: Be a mensch.
Of course the other big name here is Billy Wilder, who may have made his best film here, or at least certainly my favorite of his, and I'm a giant Double Indemnity fan. His work on this film is fantastic. Some great work visually, both in a very apparent sense and with little subtle touches. The tone of the film is just right, as it manages to balance comedy, drama, and romance all very effectively.
I can go on with describing things I liked about this film, but its one that I can simply say really deserves its high regard.
C.C. Baxter: That's the way it crumbles... cookie-wise.