The Apartment (1960)

I was searching the internet for New Year's Eve related movies and I could find nothing interesting, so I went on Twitter and asked for suggestions. Easy Riders Raging Podcast suggested The Apartment and since I loved Some Like It Hot I (Billy Wilder directed both) gave it a try.

Bud Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is an insurance clerk who has discovered a quick way to rise in his company: it's letting his superiors use his apartment to take their mistresses. Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), his superiors' boss, finds out and promotes Bud in return for the exclusive use of the apartment. Everything is going smoothly-ish until Sheldrake's mistress turns out to be Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the elevator operator Bud has feelings for and complications arise.

It seems like a very simple and basic plot (and two hours seem like a lot of time to fill), but it draws you and it's very engaging and entertaining. And it isn't as shallow as it may look. The Apartment indeed deals with many heavy themes such as suicide, loneliness and power, specifically the cost of it and how far are we willing to go to have some. Bud here loses pretty much everything to have some power, his apartment, his dignity, love even.

As interesting as that is, what I liked the most about Wilder's film was the characters, especially Bud. He isn't an entirely likeable character -- after all, he helps his superiors cheat on their wives in exchange for career advancement -- but the situations he finds himself in makes you emphasize with him and root for him. The credits for that mainly go to Jack Lemmon who gives a stunning performance as Bud Baxter. He brings so much heart into the role and brings to the screen the right amount of charm and silliness.

United Artists
The supporting actors are great as well. Fred MacMurray is flawless as Mr. Sheldrake, a man who uses his power to control others and to get what he wants. Shirley MacLaine's performance though is even greater. Her character may be too submissive and her happiness depends too much on men for today's standards, and she is quite naive, to be honest, but MacLaine makes you fall in love with her.

And lastly, kudos to Billy Wilder because this film could have easily been nothing more than a cheesy romantic comedy; instead, it's a more melancholic, tragic and deep film that has the perfect balance between drama and comedy. It's not a laugh-out-loud kind of movie like Some Like It Hot, but it still has enough humour to make you laugh now and then.

I almost forgot to mention the gorgeous cinematography. The black-and-white widescreen provides the film with the perfect, melancholic mood.


  1. I had this on my Blind Spot a few years ago and liked it too. I prefer Some Like It Hot though, for Wilder's films.

  2. A real gem of a movie. The idea was inspired by Brief Encounter, which was a really good movie too.

  3. This is a really good movie. Billy Wilder and Jack Lemmon make it what it is. Both fulfill their roles perfectly.