Jack Lemmon is one of my favourite actors. I find that I always discover something new in his performance whenever I watch him. He can very easily make us laugh one minute and cry the next. When I was younger I had always considered him a comedic actor. I hadn’t yet discovered these gems, that would come when I was old enough to appreciate them.
The character of CC Baxter is one of those roles that come for around where the actor either owns the part or they don’t. Jack absolutely made it his own. It it were possible, my fondness for Jack Lemmon grows even more every time I see one of his films. He is a remarkable actor
Another masterful creation Billy Wilder, I recall the first time I saw The Apartment. It just absolutely stunned me. It is an exceptional film, certainly one of the most remarkable pieces of satirical comedy-drama to have ever graced the screen.
Billy Wilder had an amazing body of work and he knew what it took to create these films. Take one of the greatest all-time actors, Jack Lemmon, and let his genius work its magic, Lemmon was in amazing form. Put it together with his own brilliant direction, a superlative script, and his gift for the comedic moment, and let it shine on screen … Wilder himself of course, directed and he wrote the script together with I.A.L. Diamond (the remarkable writer of such films as Irma La Douce, Some Like It Hot, Cactus Flower, Love in the Afternoon and The Fortune Cookie).
Jack Lemmon’s C.C. Baxter is an ambitious employee yet despite his hard work, he has gone nowhere at his job. He tries to find his way up the corporate ladder by allowing his supervisors to use his apartment as a love-nest. In exchange, his bosses promise an easier climb up.
Baxter gets his promotion and gets a date with the elevator girl, Fran Kubelik, played by Shirley MacLaine. J.D. Sheldrake, as played by Fred MacMurray, the big boss himself approaches Baxter to advise that he requires exclusive use of the apartment for himself, further pushing Baxter several steps up the ladder. Everything looks perfect until he finds out that Ms. Kubelik is the mistress of Sheldrake.
Pay close attention to the one-liners and Jack’s mannerisms, they are brilliant! Listen to Shirley MacLaine’s Kubelik sum up her thoughts on married men and mascara! I won’t tell you, you have to either watch the film or google the quote! I’d watch the film!
For Baxter, things couldn’t be more complicated. Getting those promotions meant he would surely lose Kubelik. Unemployment was not looking too good either. Decisions!
The script is absolute perfection, it feels true and real and really reaches deep inside us. The film’s beautiful score also adds to the film’s ambience.
Every little thing creates a big picture … to the writers’ credit, they filled the script with the smallest of details, a humming Baxter when he prepared the meatball sauce, you’d swear Jack did the same in his own home. C.C. Baxter’s apartment looked dark, empty and lonely. Baxter’s office showing employees in desks as far as the eye could see, shows that Baxter is just faceless man in a crowded faceless world.
I’m tempted to write more about the film but I don’t want to ruin it for anyone out there who hasn’t seen it yet. The best thing about The Apartment if I had to choose just one, would be Jack Lemmon himself. What a delightfully sweet man!
When I first watched this film I was amazed at how modern this film was for the time, it was made in 1960. It showed a darker side to comedy that I had never seen before. The Apartment brings up real-life subjects … human themes and issues, adultery, loneliness, suicide, unprincipled practices in the workplace, among others. Don’t worry, Wilder is an expert at his craft. At no time does he ever leave us worried that the ending it will turn out badly for either character. Hey, it’s a comedy! Wilder balances the subjects so deftly that he allows us to feel good at what could otherwise be a very depressing movie. Is this where the term, feel good movie came from! The movie comes off as a great comedic success, despite its dark themes.
Don’t let this film pass you by, if you ever see it on TV or spy it at a rental store somewhere. The Apartment won five Academy Awards, including Best Picture of 1960 and Billy Wilder won Best Director.
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