This week, I’m looking at 1960’s The Apartment. When I started this blog I had in mind that I would do movies from as many different decades as possible, and this one breaks the streak I had going, since I’ve already looked at the sixties. Oh well. My next movie will probably be from the fifties, although I don’t know exactly which one I’ll pick yet.
Anyways I chose to do this movie because it’s one of those “classics” that everyone seems to love (8.4/10 on IMDb). I did not. I didn’t hate the movie by any means, and in fact it started out really strongly. It seemed like it was going to be a straight comedy at first, but then it took a sharp turn into dramatic territory, before finishing up with a rather cheesy ending.
The movie has some major talent behind it. It’s directed by Billy Wilder, who was also responsible for Sunset Blvd. and Double Indemnity (two film-noirs that I do love). Jack Lemmon is great as C.C. Baxter (“C” for Calvin, “C” for Clifford), an accountant at a huge firm in New York. He finds himself constantly lending his apartment out to his bosses for their extramarital affairs, which helps him to rise quickly through the ranks, but also leaves him without a place to sleep on many occasions.
The problem is that his bosses expect him to vacate the apartment at a moment’s notice, and threaten him with demotions at work if he refuses. It’s a pretty original story that has rather few laugh-out-loud moments, but is still quite funny. Lemmon’s character is presented almost as a victim of circumstances, someone who is constantly being imposed upon but who never stands up for himself or puts his foot down. In spite of it all, Baxter maintains almost unfailing cheerfulness and just keeps rolling with the punches.
The movie fell apart for me a little bit towards the middle, but saying much more than that would spoil things. Suffice to say there are complications in Baxter’s scheme. I didn’t mind that so much, but it’s the way these complications are resolved that troubled me. It seems as though Wilder (who also wrote the script, along with L.A.L. Diamond) had come up with an ending and just shoehorned the action in the movie into that ending without scripting it very well.
I still give the movie credit for being funny, well-acted, and original, I just thought the story could have been fleshed out a little bit more. Basically, I’d recommend it solely on the basis of Jack Lemmon’s performance, but I don’t think it lives up to the hype.
At this point I guess it’s only fair to mention that The Apartment did pick up 5 Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director. So maybe I’m just crazy. I could get into the fact that my favourite movie from 1960, which it just so happens I’ve covered in a previous post, wasn’t even nominated in any of the major categories. But why bother… I guess the Academy just doesn’t appreciate a good western. Not “artsy” enough I suppose.