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.




17 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Oh, I haven't thought of this film for years! It is a good 'un, though and I'm glad you reminded me of it.

Bill Crider said...

Saw this one in the theater and still remember the occasion. Great movie.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Patti, I liked this movie a lot and remember seeing it more than once. There was a Hindi remake of the film too, as there are so many other remakes of Hollywood films.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Did the Jack Lemmon character play the part like he did?

John said...

And of course it became the bouncy Burt Bacharach musical PROMISES, PROMISES. Only a smidgen of bittersweetness remains after Neil Simon basically rewrote it. And the score is mostly boisterous pop-infused music. "I'll Never Fall in Love Again" is probably the only song that captures the sadness (albeit tongue in cheek) that is inherent in the orignal film.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

Patti, I don't remember too well. However, MY FAIR LADY was remade to near perfection with two prominent Indian actors in the role of Professor Higgins and Colonel Pickering; as was Jack Lemmon's IRMA LA DOUCE. SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY was remade by Bollywood as many as three times—all of them with song and dance.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Have never seen that, John. Should I?
How strange to make SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY so many times. A good book, I remember.

Prashant C. Trikannad said...

It was remade by three different directors!

Todd Mason said...

SLEEPING is a story Made for Bollywood.

Meanwhile, Patti:
And it can certainly be seen as a satire. But basically it is a study of the American male circa 1960.

--It wouldn't be much of a satire if it wasn't a study of too-prevalent a kind of man (and his enablers of various descriptions) ca. 1960...another reason you should read THE FEMALE MAN by Joanna Russ...one of the realities faced by one of the characters in her version of American society is basically this sort of 1950s into '60s gender dynamic perpetuated indefinitely...

Todd Mason said...

It's been a while since I've seen this, but I certainly bought Fred MacMurray here MUCH more than I ever will in DOUBLE INDEMNITY...

Joe Barone said...

I really liked this movie when I saw it years ago.

Richard said...

Patti, I suspect you are over-analyzing this film. I believe Wilder wanted to make a light comedy and did so, without any thought to cultural mores or gender-based inequities or mistreatment.

Todd Mason said...

Richard, I'm not sure you're thinking of the same film, at all.

Richard said...

I guess my mouth was in gear but my brain was not.

Todd Mason said...

I thought you might be pulling legs...my head cold and DayQuil consumption are still leaving me a bit muzzy. But if there's one thing Billy Wilder didn't much do, it was simple comedy that wasn't paying any attention to society at large...

Mike Doran said...

When the Nit appears, I am there to pick it:

The Apartment's music was composed by Adolph Deutsch, an old studio hand.

Ferrante & Teicher had the big hit record, one of many they made in this genre (they were promoted as "The Movie Theme Team"), which kept them in fresh toupees for years.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks, Mike. I think I had an album of their movie music back in the day.