16 Sep 1960 (West Germany)
Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Jack Lemmon (C.C. “Bud” Baxter)
Shirley MacLaine (Fran Kubelik)
Fred McMurray (Jeff D. Sheldrake)
Jack Kruschen (Dr. Dreyfuss)
(viewed SU 27 Jan 2008) This movie surprised me a bit in its frankness regarding extramarital affairs. It’s not that I didn’t think an American movie in 1960 could confront the topic seriously, but I thought it would be at least another few years before the subject could be treated so breezily and openly. In fact, the utter nonchalance with which the company executives chased skirts into Baxter’s apartment (they did not even bother to hide their activities behind winks and euphemisms!) was so shocking to me, the movie came across almost as a dark comedy, though I don’t think it was intended to be anything more than a light comic romance.
In the end, and far later than I would have, Baxter sticks up for the strangely inert Miss Kubelik (What on earth does she see in that scoundrel, Mr. Sheldrake?), so we can breathe a little easier and not worry about hiding the sleeping pills from her.
Jack Lemmon was engaging and likable as he always is, captivating (but not silly) in his haplessness, and Shirley MacLaine was quite charming.
(viewed SU 27 Jan 2008) Here’s another movie where I’m captivated by one or two performances rather than the overall message. Jack Lemmon is great as the slightly neurotic company man as is Shirley McLaine as the effervescent elevator girl. Both play the roles without being cloyingly pathetic. The story is ugly and unpalatable, to my mindset at least, in many ways – infidelity, suicide, expected personal favors in the work place are all treated with a light touch.
I am intrigued by Billy Wilder’s involvement with many classic films. In addition to The Apartment, he has written screenplays for Sabrina, Double Indemnity, Some Like It Hot, Ocean’s Eleven, and many others, all of which I either have seen and loved or would like to see. I would even give Ocean’s Eleven – the 1960 rat-pack version, of course, not the 2001 film – a try. (S)
I am more intrigued by Jack Lemmon. He is so fabulously understated and quirkily compelling in this movie, I must seek out some of his earlier work (Jim Carrey must have studied him at some point). Shirley McLaine (and her many lives) has never let me down. Both bear some more watching of their earlier movies. (L)