1001 Movie Club: The Apartment
I, for one, tend to avoid comedies made before 1990. I find it difficult to appreciate time-sensitive humor. What was funny in 1960, is rarely funny to me now. So I when committing to watch The Apartment, I was interested in seeing how I would feel about it.
The film is directed by infamous Billy Wilder, and written by him and I.A.L. Diamond. It stars Jack Lemmon, Fred MacMurray and Shirley MacLaine. It follows insurance company employee C.C. Baxter (Lemmon). He’s ambitious, but a doormat. He allows his superiors to commandeer his apartment in order to cheat on spouses in secret. In return, they recommend him for promotions. He becomes interested in Fran Kubrick (MacLaine), and tries to juggle a romantic life, with the frequent and inconvenient occupation of his apartment. Trouble ensues when it seems his boss Jeff Seldrake (MacMurray) is shagging MacLaine in his apartment. Fran attempts suicide and since Seldrake is married, he can’t very well be involved with the situation and leaves it all on Baxter.
I was disturbed by the content at first. The issues of the ‘good old boys club,’ sexual harassment, suicide and adultery were treated so lightly in a comedy made in 1960!? It really shocked me. And I found myself getting really uptight about it all between the laughs. It made me really grateful for laws now in place to protect the workplace. Seriously. I got pretty angry at the whole situation. Once I moved past that, however, I was completely entertained. The script was quite funny, and kept up a pace that never left be bored. It was certainly work to put my disdain for the characters on the back burner and focus on the film itself, but once I could, I found it to be a refreshingly honest comedy that, I hope, lost no significance in the fifty or so years it’s been out. The performances were all very fine, and the dialogue was endlessly entertaining. I would highly recommend this movie.