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The Apartment March 24, 2007

Posted by Sai in English, Movies, Reviews.

This is a delectable comedy from Billy Wilder (Some Like It Hot, The Fortune Cookie, Irma la Douce) that won five Oscars from ten nominations including those for Best Picture, Direction and Screenplay. Among the Billy Wilder films that I’ve seen so far, this just inches out as my favorite (all the awards might lead to unreasonably raised expectations though).

C.C. Baxter is an employee in an insurance firm. He lends his apartment to some of his superiors at the office to allow them to indulge in their extracurricular and possibly extramarital affairs. Though he isn’t particularly happy about the state of affairs (pun unintended), the probable benefits to be gained from the arrangement and the possibility of jeopardizing his career keep him from doing anything about it. Meanwhile, he is also smitten by the elevator operator, Miss Kubelik. While he tries to woo her, he realises that his boss, Mr Sheldrake is having an affair with her and is using his apartment for their trysts. Sheldrake makes Kubelik believe that his marriage is on the rocks but he doesn’t exactly have her best interests in mind. Baxter, for his part, is caught in an uneasy situation that he would prefer to be out of quickly.

The beauty of this film is the humor and the irony. The satirical look at the situation that the characters are caught in, works superbly. The humor is perceptive, dark and devoid of slapstick. Wilder treats the bold-for-the-time subject matter with subtlety. The screenplay (Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond) is top-notch and the witty dialogue is brilliantly written. One of my favorite parts of the dialogue is the (over)use of words suffixed with ‘wise’. Borrowing from the dialogue, one of the films posters says “Movie-wise there has never been anything like The Apartment love-wise, laugh-wise or otherwise-wise”.

And everything works because of the splendid portrayal of Baxter by Jack Lemmon. His timing is impeccable and his body language works perfectly for the role. Baxter wouldn’t have been the same if he was portrayed by anyone else. Shirley MacLaine is very good too. There is noticeable chemistry between the two actors and it shows in their later collaboration, Irma la Douce. Among the supporting cast, Jack Krushen is appealing as Dr Dreyfuss and Fred MacMurray makes Sheldrake detestable.

For the audience of today, the movie might seem a bit slow and somewhat lacking in terms of superficial appeal. However, it is a witty social commentary that grows on you as it progresses. Those who are willing to invest a bit of intellect while watching this film will be richly rewarded.



1. Tarun - March 26, 2007

sounds like the movie that “Yes Boss” was inspired from! [:)]

2. Sai - March 26, 2007

I thought the same too but there aren’t any scenes in The Apartment that were directly lifted for Yes Boss. Apparently Yes Boss was inspired from For Love or Money starring Michael J. Fox.

3. Shujath - August 13, 2008

The first thing I am going to do after watching this is to go and rent Billy Wilder’s other features. Easily one of the best comedy-romances I’ve seen – a must watch just for the exceptional dialogue

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