The Apartment (1960) 4.86/5 (1)


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Rating: The Good – 88.4
Genre: Comedy, Drama
Duration: 125 mins
Director: Billy Wilder
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray

Classic comedy drama starring Jack Lemmon as C.C. Baxter, a beleaguered insurance man who has to make his apartment available for his various superiors who are looking for a quiet place to take their lady friends. Things get sticky when he discovers that the girl he’s sweet on (a radiant Shirley MacClaine) is being taken there by the head honcho (Fred MacMurray) and they come to a head when she tries to kill herself in his bed after being jilted by the self serving boss man. Wilder always had a commanding grasp on the comedy knowing how to massage a story so that life’s inherent quandaries were incidentally examined, their ludicrousness stripped naked. Of course, it’s in that type of humour that a certain realism is also extracted and the poignancy of the story elevated. The Apartment is a glowing example of this approach made even better by the fact the it had two leads who faultlessly walked the fine line between comedy and drama, charming the audience in disparate manner. Laid out on a wide canvass of clean monochrome, Wilder does honour to the genre by gracing it with the visual class of a noir classic. On the writing front, he and I.A.L. Diamond’s screenplay is rich with lyrical wordplay and above all intelligence. The comedic riffs and onscreen dynamics are delicious and with Lemmon’s panache, MacClaine’s split second timing, and MacMurray’s egotistical brio, the scenes are made truly immortal. However, when all is said and done, the real key to The Apartment is that aforementioned juggling act. It tugs on the heartstrings but the manipulation and narcissism are constantly outdone by the whimsical optimism and rapier pragmatism of the comedy. There’s something irresistible about that.

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