The Apartment (1960)



Critic Consensus: Director Billy Wilder's customary cynicism is leavened here by tender humor, romance, and genuine pathos.

The Apartment Videos

The Apartment Photos

Movie Info

Widely regarded as a comedy in 1960, The Apartment seems more melancholy with each passing year. Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, a go-getting office worker who loans his tiny apartment to his philandering superiors for their romantic trysts. He runs into trouble when he finds himself sharing a girlfriend (Shirley MacLaine) with his callous boss (Fred MacMurray). Director/co-writer Billy Wilder claimed that the idea for The Apartment stemmed from a short scene in the 1945 romantic drama Brief Encounter in which the illicit lovers (Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson) arrange a rendezvous in a third person's apartment. Wilder was intrigued about what sort of person would willingly vacate his residence to allow virtual strangers a playing field for hanky panky. His answer to that question wound up winning 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. The Apartment was adapted by Neil Simon and Burt Bacharach into the 1969 Broadway musical Promises, Promises. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Classics , Comedy , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:

Watch it now


Jack Lemmon
as C.C. Baxter
Shirley MacLaine
as Fran Kubelik
Fred MacMurray
as J.D. Sheldrake
Ray Walston
as Mr. Dobisch
David Lewis
as Mr. Kirkeby
Jack Kruschen
as Dr. Dreyfuss
Joan Shawlee
as Sylvia
Edie Adams
as Miss Olsen
Hope Holiday
as Margie MacDougall
Johnny Seven
as Karl Matuschka
Naomi Stevens
as Mrs. Dreyfuss
Frances Lax
as Mrs. Lieberman
Joyce Jameson
as The Blonde
Willard Waterman
as Mr. Vanderhof
David White
as Mr. Eichelberger
Benny Burt
as Bartender
Hal Smith
as Santa Claus
Dorothy Abbott
as Office Worker
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Apartment

All Critics (59) | Top Critics (11)

Production and direction wise, Wilder sustains his usual excellence. But his story is controversial and I am not one of those who can quite see The Apartment as the great comedy-drama he evidently intended it to be.

Full Review… | February 22, 2015
New York Daily News
Top Critic

Wilder, a bilious and mercurial wit, here becomes a wide-screen master of time ...

Full Review… | July 1, 2013
New Yorker
Top Critic

Directed by Wilder with attention to detail and emotional reticence that belie its inherent darkness and melodramatic core, it's lifted considerably by the performances.

Full Review… | June 7, 2012
Time Out
Top Critic

A comedy of men's-room humours and water-cooler politics that now and then among the belly laughs says something serious and sad about the struggle for success, about what it often does to a man, and about the horribly small world of big business.

Full Review… | February 18, 2009
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

With tremendous performances by the two leads (Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine), this is yet another "must see" title to be found on Wilder's resume.

Full Review… | June 9, 2008
Top Critic

Most of the time, it's up to director Wilder to sustain a two-hour-plus film on treatment alone, a feat he manages to accomplish more often than not, and sometimes the results are amazing.

Full Review… | August 15, 2007
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Apartment

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.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer


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.

Jonathan Hutchings
Jonathan Hutchings

Super Reviewer

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.

Saskia D.
Saskia D.

Super Reviewer

The Apartment Quotes

Discussion Forum

Discuss The Apartment on our Movie forum!

News & Features