As of November 1, 1959, mild mannered C.C. Baxter has been working at Consolidated Life, an insurance company, for close to four years, and is one of close to thirty-two thousand employees located in their Manhattan head office. To distinguish himself from all the other lowly cogs in the company in the hopes of moving up the corporate ladder, he often works late, but only because he can't get into his apartment, located off of Central Park West, since he has provided it to a handful of company executives - Mssrs. Dobisch, Kirkeby, Vanderhoff and Eichelberger - on a rotating basis for their extramarital liaisons in return for a good word to the personnel director, Jeff D. Sheldrake. When Baxter is called into Sheldrake's office for the first time, he learns that it isn't just to be promoted as he expects, but also to add married Sheldrake to the list to who he will lend his apartment. What Baxter is unaware of is that Sheldrake's mistress is Fran Kubelik, an elevator girl in the ... Written by
Fred MacMurray had just signed a long-term contract with Disney to do family films like The Shaggy Dog (1959) and was initially reluctant to do the morally ambiguous character of Sheldrake. See more »
Baxter gives Fran coffee to drink. The coffee is freshly made and so it's boiling hot, but she drinks it quickly, as if it had been sitting around for some time. See more »
On November 1st, 1959, the population of New York City was 8,042,783. If you laid all these people end to end, figuring an average height of five feet six and a half inches, they would reach from Times Square to the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan. I know facts like this because I work for an insurance company - Consolidated Life of New York. We're one of the top five companies in the country. Our home office has 31,259 employees, which is more than the entire population ...
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What a wonderful way to spend an evening--dinner, Christmas and New Year's with CC Baxter (Jack Lemmon) and 'friends', accompanied by much champagne and laughter, and spaghetti and meatballs lovingly prepared by the host himself. There's even a game of gin rummy to get into that Baxter and Fran can't ever seem to finish--here's hoping it never does!
THE APARTMENT is one of those truly classic classic movies--for one thing, it has an absolutely top-notch cast, featuring Jack Lemmon (at his wryly humourous best); Shirley MacLaine (a glowing screen presence); Fred MacMurray (smarm personified); and a younger Ray Walston (still wisecracking, still hilarious). They also benefit from a clever, perceptive and timelessly relevant script by Billy Wilder, under his capable direction. Though there are plenty of brilliant one-liners, the best of the dialogue feels true and real, which adds to the feeling that you've known Baxter et al for years. I loved the score to the movie as well, artfully attributed to the Rickshaw Boys and used to great effect.
There are so many good moments scattered throughout the film (I can't even begin to enumerate them all here!). A lot of them are little touches that must have been added by the actors themselves (Jack Lemmon humming as he prepares the meatball sauce is just *so* funny!). I love the madness of the Christmas party scene, and when Baxter's doctor-neighbour takes charge of the situation with Fran, slapping her awake and marching her around the living room. I also love it when Baxter first starts playing gin rummy with Fran, and she reveals how she has a talent for falling for the wrong guy all the time. Best of all, Lemmon makes such a believable, sweet pushover that you often want to shake him and hug him at the same time--the things he would do for Fran! It makes his final scene with MacMurray that much more satisfying for the audience.
If you see this gem of a movie on a video store shelf, or (even better) playing in the cinema, don't let it pass you by. Join Baxter, Fran, Mr. Sheldrake and everyone else, and have a great time!
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