The Apartment - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Apartment Reviews

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Super Reviewer
November 22, 2012
It is a curious thing that this film is labeled by many as a comedy when in fact it is so melancholy and rather heavy in tone. A deeply involving dramatic romance with great dialogue and three-dimensional characters, even if the plot is a bit predictable.
Super Reviewer
½ January 22, 2012
Along with Ernst Lubitsch's The Shop Around the Corner, Billy Wilder's 1960 Oscar-sweeper The Apartment elevates the workplace romance into a sublime erotics of officious addresses (the omnipresent Mister and Miss) and economic conundrum. In this film, actuary C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) sleeps his way up the Consolidated Life ladder by proxy, as philandering execs use his 67th Street digs for scheduled romps. Meanwhile, Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the elevator operator he chivalrously fancies, can't get personnel czar Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) out of her mind. The triangulation keeps its edges with on-your-toes dialogue and a fine-tuned critique of corporate culture. Lemmon navigates the line between simpering and sympathetic with nervous WASP-ish energy. Most indelibly, MacLaine gives us a gamine with the whole gamut of emotions, a cursed capacity to love, and a limit to her own self-pity.

As in Shop, Christmastime and suicide mingle, and the name "Kubelik" has the old-world ring of Kralik, Matuschek, et al.; Baxter's Jewish neighbors put him on the road from schnook to mensch (perhaps this is Wilder responding to the critique that he wasn't Jewish enough?). And Billy again pulls of his trademark feat of finding pathos in taboo subjects. He had a sign in his office that read, "How Would Lubitsch Do It?" and here that director's elusive touch hovers over the proceedings, lending a lightness to even the most mercenary transactions. A classic in the truest sense of the word.
Super Reviewer
October 21, 2011
Lovely movie. Without knowing it from each other, C.C. and Fran are both jerked around by selfish and arrogant men.
What I liked about it is that it doesn't turn into a sugary romantic movie, the characters stay true to themselves.
Super Reviewer
½ June 28, 2011
Looking solely at the premise, I find it really funny that a film about a lonely office drone who pimps out his apartment to his superiors as a way of getting ahead in the corporate world won the Oscar for best picture. In all seriousness though, this is a wonderful satirical dramedy that, like a lot of Billy Wilder's films, pushed forth a mature subject, and made no qualms about doing so.

The film gets more serious as it goes on, but the first half is really pretty funny, and it's just a joy watching Jack Lemmon act all harried and whatnot. He gives a great performance, as do Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray, even though no one is the cast is bad.

I rather like that, perhaps due to the time period, this film leaves much to the imagination- something that probably wouldn't happen if it were made now. Everyone, and not just the actors, are firing on all cylinders here
Super Reviewer
June 16, 2011
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!
Super Reviewer
March 12, 2011
First class performances, brilliant script and bold subject matter, this is perfection. Full review later.
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
This is one of Wilder's best movies, and the actors are brilliant too, this movie is hilarious, dramatic, and romantic as well. I highly recommend it.
Super Reviewer
December 9, 2008
Who knew suicide could be made into a believable romantic comedy? Jack Lemmon and Shirley Maclaine dazzle together in a pairing most befitting.
Super Reviewer
January 15, 2007
A very quirky idea and a film that really grows on you throughout, Jack Lemon is very likeable in this, as is Shirley Maclean.
Super Reviewer
August 12, 2007
Wilder's romantic but corrosive view of the petty bourgeois. Dignity and reason are non existent when it comes to scale up high positions. But there will always be left a thorn inside the heart that compels you to start feeling like a human being all over again.
Super Reviewer
November 14, 2006
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.
Super Reviewer
July 25, 2010
One of the all time greatest romance stories of all time, it's one of the classiest and respected as well. While this might fall under the category of satire for some, I really don't see that at all. This doesn't seek out to make fun of who we are as people, it just shows how ironic life can be. Jack Lemmon is priceless as the ultimate nice guy, even going as far as to ruining his own reputation for the benefit of others. Shirley MacLaine obviously fits into the adorable yet clueless elevator girl who's clearly in love with the wrong man. Now for me, what makes this one of the most interesting movies of its kind is the way it is filmed and treated. Billy Wilder makes this look like a world class drama and important movie. It doesn't sell out for cheap laughs or short cuts. The story shows the true testament of what a man will do to be with the girl he loves and not take any flack from anyone.
Super Reviewer
April 4, 2010
Stepping far away from Double Indemnity, Wilder creates an amazing film that focuses on one man's pursuit to make it to the top. Again, Wilder does not shy away from difficult subject matter and deals extensively with sex and class relations. With excellent performances from Lemmon and MacLaine, this film is one of the best I have seen in a while.
Super Reviewer
April 29, 2006
I had heard that this film was a romantic comedy, but as I watched the comedy almost shrank to irrelevance as the deep saddness rose. Jack Lemmon is perfect as always and Shirley MacLaine is so sweet and innocent that you cannot help but wonder at her current demeanor. If anything this film is a truly heart aching romance that takes you on a journey of laughs, pity, sorrow and love. Amazingly winner of Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, and Original Screenplay. Billy Wilder has to be one of the all time great directors and king of famous last lines: "Shut up and deal".
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2007
although im often miffed at how this film can be considered a comedy, im never puzzled by its reputation as a great film. billy wilder's execution of the seemingly limited plotline is masterful and both lemmon and maclaine are perfect in their roles. great romantic classic.
Super Reviewer
December 17, 2008
There may be nothing to say about Jack Lemmon's awesomeness that has not been said, but wow can he carry a movie. The original (and better) Tom Hanks: sincere guy, best intentions but down on his luck and always between a rock and a hard place.

The Apartment serves as a shining example of this particular talent of Lemmon's, as Mr. Baxter (his character) is getting ahead in his company not on his work merits (though he seems to be a solid employee), but rather by lending his apartment to his bosses so they have a place to discretely cheat on their wives.

The turning point in this film is one of the best: it went from romantic comedy to practically film noir - which might explain why Wilder shot it in black and white - at the exact moment where Mr. Baxter turns off the record when faced with a crisis in his apartment (I won't spoil it by telling you what that was). The note director Billy Wilder is making about diegetic versus extra-diegetic music is one thing (and quite forward looking for the time), but to see the movie's tone turn 180 degrees on a dime is stunning, and it was something I can't say I remember ever seeing done so well in a movie.

I can't remember seeing Shirley MacLaine in a movie before this one, though I'm sure that I have. And I haven't done enough research to prove that Scorsese loves this film, but something about the tone suggested to me that he learned a lot from Wilder. Maybe I'll update this review down the road if I find that information, it was just a feeling I got.

The Oscar winner for Best Picture of 1960 - no pedestrian year for movies - and with good reason, the Apartment is one of the best films you will ever watch, and if you haven't yet, do so. It is truly outstanding.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ January 31, 2009
Winner of 5 Oscars, including Best Picture of 1960, and Best director for Billy Wilder, The Apartment is a film about love and heartbreak in a cynical modern world. C.C. Baxter (Lemmon) is a low-level insurance accountant who by some stroke of luck (or misfortune), finds himself very popular among the executives at his company. Baxter is a bachelor, you see, and lives alone in an apartment that is very convenient for these executives' extra-marital affairs. So he lends these executives the use of his apartment, and in return, is given special perks and bonuses at work. It's not that Baxter is a user, he just seems to have trouble saying "no" to people (especially those in power). The lovers trysts cause him all sorts of undue stress, especially when he has to wait in the rain for hours as his apartment is being used. The only light in his seeming gloom is Miss Kubelik (MacLaine), the cute elevator operator who he flirts with on occasion. One day, fortune smiles on him when bigwig Sheldrake (MacMurray) offers him comp tickets to see "The Music Man" in exchange for the use of his apartment. Baxter uses the tickets as an excuse to ask Miss Kubelik out on a date, which she will accept, just as soon as she meets her old boyfriend for drinks. The old boyfriend is, of course, the bigwig Sheldrake, and although she's trying to escape the married man's advances, she's too weak and in love with him to resist. Lemmon is as affable as a puppy dog in this film, just too lonely and too alone to care about playing it cool (by the way, does anybody do colds as well as Lemmon?). MacLaine is positively beautiful as the broken-willed girl, jaded and yet unable to resist the notion of the idea of love. At the movie's climax, it's almost impossible to escape the pathos of C.C. Baxter; he's portrays a certain quiet desperation as he watches the woman he loves destroy herself over a man who doesn't give a damn about her.
Super Reviewer
½ August 24, 2008
Wilder's commentary on 1960's office life and male philanderers is spot on even today. It was even poking fun at endless advertisements way back in 1960. At the heart of the film though is a real unspoken love story which isn't afraid to go down the dark route to reach the happily ever after ending. Lemmon gives one hell of a performance in this film. He is at times sympathetic and sometimes just pathetic. He's warm and naive, though he knows allowing his bosses to use him results in rewards, so essentially he uses them to. MacMurray is also great never coming off as a villain, just rather insensitive and selfish. The film holds up well though is more dramatic than the great comedy I was led to believe it would be. Still the dialogue sizzles and the chemistry is wonderful between all actors.
Super Reviewer
June 13, 2008
Marvelous! Shirley MacLaine is so fresh-faced and quirky and I love Jack Lemmon. I absolutely adore him.
Super Reviewer
½ May 4, 2008
I sometimes wonder how 50 year old movies are rated so highly, but The Apartment retains it relevance and is worth viewing even in the 21st century.

Shirley MacLaine is involved in a relationship with the boss (Fred MacMurray) but finds out during the movie that she is not the first, nor will she be the last. She tries to commit suicide and Jack Lemmon comes to the rescue!
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