Unrated, 2 hr. 5 min. Directed By: Billy Wilder. Release Date: Jun 15, 1960. DVD Release Date: Jun 19, 2001.
About fifteen minutes in to The Apartment I started digging for my Netflix envelope to see when it was made. The black and white imagery immediately made me think 1950s, but the, erm, behavior of the businessmen and women made me think that either someone was having Peyton Place flashbacks, or that America had hit the sexual revolution at this was the 1960s. I leaned more towards the 60s also because Marilyn Monroe wasn’t cast, and she was in ALL the inappropriate movies of the day.
I’m not sure what to think of Lemmon’s C.C. Baxter. On the one hand, I hate him a little for his inherent weakness. He won’t stand up to his bosses, despite some discourtesy that should have bordered on the criminal. Baxter was helping five men commit adultery. He held the winning hand and wouldn’t use it. Pitiful. Then, enter Maclaine (a frighteningly young Maclaine) as Ms. Kubelik, she’s beautiful, but approachable, and he falls for her, but refuses to engage. It would be decades before the word “game” could be applied to this situation from a linguistic context, but ole Bax sorely needs some. He gets pushed around by his landlady and his neighbors and seems to accept it with a chagrined smile. On the other hand, Baxter IS a good guy, perhaps the archetype behind the concept that nice guys finish last.
I liked this movie. A lot. It has an American culture that’s so far removed from our modern one that I hardly recognize it. Casual wear for men includes hats and ties. Women wear hats, furs, and tons of jewelry. The approach to marriage is flippant, seen as a duty, rather than something… sacred. No wait, that I recognized. Address between people is formal, using Mr., Mrs., or Ms., or just last names. But I found it endearing, even though those people were incredibly uptight, at least by my standards.
I really don’t have a single complaint about this movie, and I love, love LOVE the chance to see these folks that I know as actors in their sixties, if not older, back when they were so very young. It was a bit strange, though, not seeing Shirley Maclaine with what I think of as dyed red tresses, although the hair is fairly similar. It was the hair style that actually made me realize that I was looking at a much younger version of the Shirley Maclaine I was familiar with.
The Apartment is great and lighthearted, something that you can use to pass the time, but I bet you’ll start to get engrossed by the characters. They’re too interesting to pass on. If you haven’t seen this movie and are interested at all in this classics, this one should make your list.