The Apartment (1960)

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

One of the first great modern romance comedies


Movie Info

Movie Name:  The Apartment

Studio:  The Mirisch Company

Genre(s):  Comedy/Romance

Release Date(s):  June 15, 1960

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated


So…can we borrow your apartment?

C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is a rising star at his business, and it is all thanks to his apartment.  When boss from his company Al Kirkeby (David Lewis), Joe Dobisch (Ray Walston), Mr. Vanderhoff (Willard Waterman), and Mr. Eichelberger (David White) need a place to take the women they are having affairs with, Baxter spends his time walking the street while they use his apartment.  The only person that Baxter has feelings for is an elevator girl named Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) who seems cold to everyone in the building.  Baxter gets his big chance to move up when the company’s owner J.D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) learns of his apartment…unfortunately, Sheldrake’s girl is Ms. Kubelik.  A suicide attempt by Ms. Kubelik leaves Baxter forced to cover for his boss but closer than ever to Ms. Kubelik…leaving Baxter forced to choose between his love and his career.


Spaghetti straining scene…still the best use of a tennis racket

Directed by Billy Wilder, The Apartment the apartment is a romantic comedy which was met with much acclaim.  The film won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Art Direction—Set Decoration (Black-and-White) and had nominations for  Best Actor (Jack Lemmon), Best Actress (Shirley MacLaine), Best Supporting Actor (Jack Kruschen), Best Cinematography (Black-and-White), and Best Sound.  The movie was the last black-and-white film to win Best Picture until the mostly black-and-white Schindler’s List and The Artist.  The film was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress in the National Film Registry and is often cited as one of the greatest comedies ever made.


I’m a nice guy…remember?

The Apartment feels like a really modern romance comedy.  With a slightly salacious subject (businessmen having sex with their mistresses in an apartment), the movie isn’t just light and fluffy and even includes the near death of the main character in a very serious suicide attempt…the movie could easily be passed off as more modern movie if you showed the script to someone.

The movie’s script is very strong.  The timing and relationships between the characters feels a lot like a Mel Brooks movie but with a more toned down and realistic approach.  The film was allegedly a big inspiration for Mendes’ direction of American Beauty and Lemmon even received credit from Kevin Spacey on how he performed his Oscar winning role in that film.  The story takes a number of turns that you might not expect and still remains to be light without being too light.


Let’s play…cards that is

The acting in the comedy is top notch from the stars and the supporting cast.  Lemmon is charming as Baxter though it is hard for me to see him as a “young man” since I’ve always known him as the older character.  Shirley MacLaine really had it during this period…despite being the second character, she really holds her place as the charming and sad Ms. Kubelik.  It is also interesting to see genuinely nice and fatherly Fred MacMurray play against his normal role by being a cheating husband who is using Kubelik.  The other apartment users come off as pretty sitcom-esque, but the movie also has a nice turn by Jack Kruschen as the disapproving neighbor doctor who thinks Lemmon is the womanizer.


Trapped in a hell of cubicles…

Visually for a very set based film, the movie looks fantastic.  Movies like Office Space and even Tron look like they took the apartment’s cubical world as part of their inspiration.  The show has a very Mad Men feel and I can’t imagine that the series also didn’t look at this film for visuals.  Despite being in black-and-white the style and shooting of the film is smart.

The Apartment is a must for those who love classic comedy.  It shows a period of change in comedy and manages to hold even fifty years later.  The movie was later turned into a musical in 1968 called Promises, Promises.  Lemmon and MacLaine are at the top of their game and if you haven’t seen the film, it is a Best Picture that shouldn’t be missed.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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