The Apartment Reviews
Terrific film. Cynical, realistic and unusually themed for its time. Though it was shot in black and white, the film doesn't leave an impression that it's something made during a time of taboo and massive censoring in Hollywood. Director Billy Wilder must be given all credits and the film makes sure that it isn't weighed down by excessive romanticism. Jack Lemmon again strikes gold in his lead role.
"The Apartment" was very controversial at the time for its sexual overtones; no sex scenes were shown, per se, but the script was peppered with oblique innuendos such as direct mentions to "ring a ding ding" activities. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the film was not in the adulterous affairs within C.C. Baxter's apartment, but the semi-graphic portrayal of drug overdosage. Shirley MacLaine, well-mannered elevator operator and two-way lover stuck in the middle of a secret triangle between C.C. and Fred MacMurray's Mr. Sheldrake, is so distraught and ridden with rejection that she consumes an entire bottle of sleeping pills, barely getting out of the predicament alive. Even when she does recover, she is left with suicidal thoughts and nasty hangovers. Remember, this movie was made in 1960, not 1990, so much of this stuff was ahead-of-its time and shocking to witness on the silver screen.
My one and only complain with "The Apartment" is the half-assed ending. Honestly, the scene when C.C. refuses the offer of a second-in-command position at the (literal) top of the building next to Mr. Sheldrake's office would have been the most compelling finish. In such a rigged business system where corruption and secrets abound, nobody can or will stop bad boys at playing shady games, hence why corruption is so prevalent today. What happened instead, which I absolutely hated, is that C.C. suddenly grew a heart and uncharacteristically refused to be part of the system and left. Everything that followed felt like a typical, paint-by-the-numbers happy ending, including Shirley MacLaine's running through the city to get to her lover-boy. (I guess the both ended happily ever after playing cards.) I would have much preferred a darker, more realistic ending, as everything else in "The Apartment" strived to echo problems in contemporary American society.
one of the best love stories told on screen. the selfless act of love resulted in a genuine, ever-growing, reciprocity. <3
It was great to see the little snippets of life in this time period and the cultural references, and the office space shown by director Billy Wilder is on its own fantastic (wow, talk about an 'open office' plan). It's interesting to see several actors you'll know from later works: MacMurray (the father in 'My Three Sons', though he had also been in Wilder's 'Double Indemnity' and other films earlier), David White (who depending on your 60's TV knowledge you may recognize as Darrin's boss in 'Bewitched'), and Ray Walston (who was the hardest to connect for me, but when I finally got it I was quite happy with myself ... he was the actor who, 22 years later, would so brilliantly play Mr. Hand opposite Jeff Spicoli, played by Sean Penn in Fast Times at Ridgemont High).
But I digress. MacLaine is the real star here, with several great moments. While you can see the ending coming from a mile away, there are elements of real melancholy in this movie, including a scene with Lemmon and a woman in a bar, both down on their luck, which is priceless. There is also some edge to the movie with all that playing around, and a wild company holiday party, so that the movie doesn't feel sugary-sweet. I don't think it should have gotten five Oscars (including Best Picture and Best Director), particularly in the year Alfred Hitchcock's masterpiece 'Psycho' was released - this was a huge miss by the Academy - but it's certainly a good movie, and enjoyable to watch 55 years later. As a last bit of movie trivia - this was the last black and white film to win the Best Picture award, that is, until 'Schindler's List' won in 1993.