THE APARTMENT (1960)

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The Apartment Arrow Academy has recently released a re-mastered version of the following Hollywood classic Directed by Billy Wilder, and Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray. It really is a smashing package, and chock full of great special features such as documentaries, interviews, archival material, expert commentaries, as well as the usual trailers and complementary featurettes. Want to know more? Then please check out this 125 minute movie today.


The Apartment (Special Edition) - Out Now!


THE STORY:
I did it. I’ve finally did it. After all this time working as a lowly accountant, I’ve finally been promoted to Junior Executive Assistant, 2nd class. Me, CC Baxter, although my friends generally call me 'Buddy' (Jack Lemmon)!

Now I must admit, I didn’t gain this promotion on hard work alone, as I also have an apartment and allow my colleagues to use it in order to entertain their 'lady friends'. On Monday, our general manager, Mister Eichelberger (David White), spends about 30 minutes there with a nice blonde lady that works in his office. On Wednesday, our office manager, Joe Dobisch (Ray Walston), does a similar thing, yet in his case the lady isn’t a natural blonde and prefers drinking more than typing. And on Thursday, Mister Vanderhoff (Willard Waterman) comes over with... with... with... oh! Wait a minute! I think I’ve said too much already! Besides, I haven’t given you a chance to speak, Ms Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), and that isn’t nice, especially since you spend most of your day operating the elevator here at 'Consolidated Life'.

Hey! I got an idea! How about me and you go out on a date tonight? Just the two of us! We can go and watch a show at the theatre because I was given two free tickets by someone I did a good turn for! What’s that? You can’t go, Ms Kubelik? You can’t go because you’ve already got a date with... gulp... Mister Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray)... The Head of the company... who happens to also use my apartment on occasion!

Damn. That’s a shame. A real shame. But then again, that’s most probably why what next transpires ends up with a broken heart. As lift operators go to sleep; Jewish Doctor's become awfully-awfully deep; Executive Assistant’s can’t help but weep; and at the end of the day, please remember, life isn’t cheap. 




THE REVIEW:
In many ways ‘The Apartment’ is like a darkly satirical fairy-tale that spits in the face of the American Dream. Not spiritually, mind you, but metaphorically, and I say this because at the heart of this movie is a character we shouldn’t really like. 

Well, at face value, he comes across as being a needy person, both nerdy and desperate, but most importantly of them all, he's a facilitator who allows his work colleagues to cheat on their wives by giving them the use of his apartment. And if you think that's bad, to make matters even worse the main reason he’s doing this is so he can work his way up the corporate ladder. I mean, that’s pretty despicable, isn’t it? Heartless even, and definitely isn’t a great character portrait for a leading man, especially in the early 1960s.

The Apartment
In fact, his main saving grace is that he appears to be a small man with big idea's, and despite his fantasy's, is fairly well mannered and doesn’t want to cause anyone any real harm. That, coupled with the fact that he's being played by none other than Jack 'the gent' Lemmon! Ouch! Game over! This man is a star! Ha! 

In all seriousness, though, Jack does an amazing job in this film, as he plays a funny 'every-man' type character whose charm and personality makes you forget that what he’s doing isn’t really nice. He also has the ability to mix drama and comedy together, doing so without making either of them appear too forced or too staged. Seriously, I don’t know how he does it, and I can say exactly the same thing about Shirley MacLaine's performance as well.

Her character, like Jack’s, is the type of character we shouldn’t sympathize with because she’s having an affair with a married man, namely, the married man played by Fred MacMurray, the elegant yet narcissistic swine. That said, however, Shirley is able to show the many different sides of her characters persona, be it the charismatic side, the lonely side, the sexy side, or dare I say it, the side we all want to hold on to and desperately cuddle. Honestly, both of these actors are really great in this comedic drama, and goes to show that Martin Scorsese isn't the only person who can portray misguided people in a positive light.


The Apartment


Something else I would like to mention about this flick is how it refrains from showing any nudity whatsoever, which is saying something, considering that a part of it's basic premise is about people having extra marital affairs. It also has the forethought to cleverly set up a number of scenarios before they eventually play out. A good example of this can be seen in the character of Mister Dreyfuss, Jack's Jewish neighbor, as played magnificently by Jack Kruschen, who happens to be a doctor that Jack needs the services of halfway through the story. Another example of this would have to be the broken 'compact mirror' revelation that shows Jack that Shirley‘s character is having an affair with his boss, without a single word needed to be spoken. 

The Apartment
Now I could continue, but hey, I'm sure I’ve said enough already, plus I think it’s about time for some of my usual filmic facts. Here, check this out: (1) This cinematic-gem had its world premier in New York City on the same day that the Writers Guild of America ended an eight-month-long strike in order to gain health and pension benefits. It was on the 15th of June, 1960, and they would later come to regret this decision because they had to relinquish the writes to their past works. (2) Loosely translated, this project was entitled 'Bachelor Flat' in Argentina; 'The Nest' in Turkey; and 'Batchelor Room' in Greece. (3) Apart from those scenes shot in a studio, namely, the studio called 'The Lot', situated in 1041 North Formosa Avenue, West Hollywood, California, a small portion of this rom-com was filmed on location throughout New York City. This includes the Majestic Theater, 247 West 44th Street, 205 Columbus Avenue, 59th Street, and 2 Broadway, which was used for the external shots for the 'Consolidated Life' insurance firm. (4) One of the taglines used to promote this picture, was, 'Movie-wise, there has never been anything like it - laugh-wise, love-wise, or otherwise-wise!'. (5) If you think you recognized the actress who played Miss Olsen in this drama, then that would mean you know the one and only, Edie Adams. She was an American born actress best known for her sultry voice, numerous guest spots, as well as her first marriage to comedic legend, Ernie Kovacs. (6) Billy Wilder came up with the idea for this flick after seeing the David Lean classic, 'Brief Encounter', circa 1945, and wondered about the plight of the character that lent his apartment to the two main stars who were having an affair. (7) This was the last black and white movie to win Best Picture at The Academy Awards until 'The Artist' was given the honor in 2011. There were other award winning films before this to have been shot in black and white, like 'Schindler's List' and 'Raging Bull', but they weren't completely shot in black and white: Completely being the operative word. (8) The drunken lady seen at the bar was deliberately mimicking Marilyn Monroe because Billy Wilder had such a tough time working with her on 'Some Like It Hot'. (9) After this picture pressed its own button, Jack Lemmon narrated the family adventure, ' Stowaway in the Sky'; Shirley MacLaine had an unaccredited cameo in the popular heist film, 'Oceans Eleven'; and Fred MacMurray starred in the comedy, 'The Absent Minded Professor'.


Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine in The Apartment


In closing I would like to mention four other things about ‘The Apartment’ that I think are well worth mentioning. Firstly, the film looks really great, as some of the sets are very nicely composed, built, and framed for the screen, particularly the lavish main hall and Jack's rustic home from home. Secondly, the story isn’t too sentimental and has a nice ironic twist at the end, which is the usual trademark for its director, Billy Wilder. Thirdly, some of the references may seem pretty outdated for those people not familiar with this era. Although, from my point of view, I don’t think this spoil's watching the movie too much. And fourthly, it isn’t quite clear if Jack’s character ever gets paid for subletting his apartment. Again, not that this point spoils the story or makes it hard to follow. But to some, well, it may cause a little bit of a problem. Like this for instance...




THE RATING: A+

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