Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Forgotten Movie: THE APARTMENT
THE APARTMENT (Billy Wilder) won the best picture Oscar in 1960. The other nominees were OK (ELMER GANTRY was one) but this is a very strong movie that holds up quite well. Directed by Billy Wilder, it was long seen as a comedy and there are certainly comic interludes in it. And it can certainly be seen as a satire. But basically it is a study of the American male circa 1960.
The treatment of women in this film closely resembles their treatment in MAD MEN. It is almost painful to watch at times. C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is working his way up the corporate ladder by loaning his apartment to corporate philanderers. This was not initially his intention, but it is how it worked out. It is just too conveniently located.
He has to decide if the price is worth it.
When he falls for an elevator operator, (Shirley MacLaine), things begin to shift. Fred MacMurray excels at playing the bigwig who seduces, abandons, seduces, abandons her. Hard to imagine him running off to play Steve Douglas in MY THREE SONS, in between.
Now much of what makes this movie seem comic is Jack Lemmon's style of acting. I asked myself repeatedly if another actor in the role would have made it an even darker film and the answer is yes. But perhaps it didn't need to be any darker. Would as many people have seen it without him? Did he serve to lighten the mood of a very sad film?
Highly recommended if you've never seen it.
Ferrante and Teicher wrote the brilliant theme song, which still brings me to tears.