original film poster
|Directed by||Billy Wilder|
|Produced by||Billy Wilder|
|Music by||Adolph Deutsch|
|Editing by||Daniel Mandell|
|Studio||The Mirisch Company|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Running time||125 minutes|
The Apartment is a 1960 American comedy-drama film produced and directed by Billy Wilder, which stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray. It was Wilder's next movie after Some Like It Hot and, like its predecessor, a commercial and critical smash, grossing $25 million at the box office. The film was nominated for ten Academy Awards, and won five, including Best Picture. The film was the basis of the 1968 Broadway musical Promises, Promises, featuring book by Neil Simon, music by Burt Bacharach, and lyrics by Hal David.
C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is a lonely office drudge at a national insurance corporation (Consolidated Life of New York - 31,259 employees) in a high-rise building (Desk #861, Section W, Ordinary Policy Department - Premium Accounting Division on the 19th floor) in New York City. In order to climb the corporate ladder, Baxter allows four company managers (Ray Walston, David Lewis, Willard Waterman, and David White) to take turns borrowing his Upper West Side apartment (51 W. 67th St., Apt. 2A) for their various extramarital liaisons, which are so noisy that his neighbors assume he is bringing home different women every night.
The four write glowing reports about Baxter, who hopes for a promotion from the personnel director, Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray). Sheldrake calls Baxter to his office, but says he's found out why they were so enthusiastic. He does give Baxter the promotion – in return for exclusive privileges to borrow the apartment. He insists on using it that same night and, as compensation for such short notice, gives Baxter two company-sponsored tickets to the hit Broadway musical The Music Man.
After work, Baxter catches Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), an elevator operator he has had his eye on. They agree to meet at the theater after she has a drink with a former fling. The man she meets is Sheldrake, who convinces her he is about to divorce his wife for her. They go to Baxter's apartment as Baxter waits forlornly outside the theater.
Several weeks later, at the company's raucous Christmas party, Sheldrake's secretary Miss Olsen (Edie Adams), drunkenly reveals to Fran that Fran is just the latest in a string of female employees Sheldrake has seduced into affairs with the promise of divorcing his wife; Miss Olsen herself was one of them. At Baxter's apartment, Fran confronts Sheldrake, upset with herself for believing his lies. Sheldrake maintains that he genuinely loves her, but then leaves to return to his suburban family as usual.
Meanwhile, Baxter accidentally finds out about Sheldrake and Fran. Disappointed, he picks up a woman at a local bar. When they arrive at his apartment, he is shocked to find Fran in his bed, fully clothed and unconscious from an intentional overdose of his sleeping pills. He enlists the help of his neighbor, Dr. Dreyfuss (Jack Kruschen), to revive Fran without notifying the authorities and sends his bar pickup home. To protect his job, he lets Dreyfuss believe he and Fran are lovers who had fought, which he took so lightly that he was meeting another woman while she was attempting suicide. Fran spends several days recuperating at his apartment, while Baxter tries to entertain and distract her from any further suicidal thoughts, talking her into playing numerous hands of gin rummy.
Since she has been missing, Fran's brother-in-law comes to the office looking for her. She has not been there and neither has Baxter. The previous day, one of the executives had seen Fran in the bedroom when he came to the apartment hoping to borrow it and mentioned it to the other executives. Resenting Baxter for denying them access to his apartment, the executives direct the man there. Baxter again takes responsibility for Fran's actions, and the man punches him twice in the face.
Sheldrake rewards Baxter with a further promotion and fires Miss Olsen for telling Fran his history of womanizing. However, Miss Olsen retaliates by telling his wife, who promptly leaves him. Sheldrake moves into a room at his athletic club but now figures he can string Fran along while he enjoys his newfound bachelorhood. When he requests access to Baxter's apartment on New Year's Eve, Baxter refuses and quits the firm. Sheldrake tells Fran; she realizes Baxter is the man who truly loves her, and she runs to his apartment. She arrives there alone and insists on resuming their gin rummy game. When he declares his love for her, her reply is the now-famous final line of the film: "Shut up and deal".
- Jack Lemmon as C.C. (Calvin Clifford) "Buddy Boy" Baxter
- Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik
- Fred MacMurray as Jeff D. Sheldrake
- Ray Walston as Joe Dobisch
- Jack Kruschen as Dr. Dreyfuss
- David Lewis as Al Kirkeby
- Hope Holiday as Mrs. Margie MacDougall
- Joan Shawlee as Sylvia
- Naomi Stevens as Mrs. Mildred Dreyfuss
- Johnny Seven as Karl Matuschka
- Joyce Jameson as the blonde in the bar
- Hal Smith as Santa Claus in the bar
- Willard Waterman as Mr. Vanderhoff
- David White as Mr. Eichelberger
- Edie Adams as Miss Olsen
Immediately following the success of Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond wished to make another film with Jack Lemmon. Wilder had originally planned to cast Paul Douglas as Jeff Sheldrake; however, after he died unexpectedly, Fred MacMurray was cast.
The initial concept for the film came from Brief Encounter by Noël Coward, in which Celia Johnson has an affair with Trevor Howard in his friend's apartment. However, due to the Hays Production Code, Wilder was unable to make a film about adultery in the 1940s. Wilder and Diamond also based the film partially on a Hollywood scandal in which high-powered agent Jennings Lang was shot by producer Walter Wanger for having an affair with Wanger's wife, actress Joan Bennett. During the affair, Lang used a low-level employee's apartment. Another element of the plot was based on the experience of one of Diamond's friends, who returned home after breaking up with his girlfriend to find that she had committed suicide in his bed.
Although Wilder generally required his actors to adhere exactly to the script, he allowed Jack Lemmon to improvise in two scenes: in one scene he squirted a bottle of nose drops across the room, and in another he sang while making a meal of spaghetti (which he strains through the grid of a tennis racket). In another scene, where Lemmon was supposed to mime being punched, he failed to move correctly and was accidentally knocked down. Wilder chose to use the shot of the genuine punch in the film. Lemmon also caught a cold when one scene on a park bench was filmed in sub-zero weather.
Art director Alexandre Trauner used forced perspective to create the set of a large insurance company office. The set appeared to be a very long room full of desks and workers; however, successively smaller people and desks were placed to the back of the room ending up with children. He designed the set of Baxter's apartment to appear smaller and shabbier than the spacious apartments that usually appeared in films of the day. He used items from thrift stores and even some of Wilder's own furniture for the set.
At the time of release, the film was a critical and commercial success, making $25 million at the box office and receiving a range of positive reviews. The New York Times film critic Bosley Crowther enjoyed the film, calling it, "A gleeful, tender, and even sentimental film." Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert and ReelViews film critic James Berardinelli both praised the film, giving it four stars out of four, with Ebert adding it to his "Great Movies" list. The film has a 93% "Certified Fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 54 reviews; the site's consensus states that "Director Billy Wilder's customary cynicism is leavened here by tender humor, romance, and genuine pathos."
However, there was some criticism. Due to its themes of infidelity and adultery, the film was controversial for its time. It initially received some negative reviews for its content. Film critic Hollis Alpert of the Saturday Review called it "a dirty fairy tale". According to Fred MacMurray, after the film's release he was accosted by a strange woman in the street who berated him for making a "dirty filthy movie" and hit him with her purse.
The film earned a profit of over $1 million during its theatrical run.
33rd Academy Awards (Oscars) – 1960 
|Best Motion Picture||Won||Billy Wilder|
|Best Director||Won||Billy Wilder|
|Best Actor||Nominated||Jack Lemmon|
|Best Actress||Nominated||Shirley MacLaine|
|Best Writing, Story and Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen|
Although Jack Lemmon did not win, Kevin Spacey dedicated his Oscar for American Beauty (1999) to Lemmon's performance. According to the behind-the-scenes feature on the American Beauty DVD, the film's director, Sam Mendes, had watched The Apartment (among other classic American films) as inspiration in preparation for shooting his film.
Within a few years after The Apartment's release, the routine use of black-and-white film in Hollywood had ended. As of 2012, only two black-and-white movies have won the Academy Award for Best Picture after The Apartment did: Schindler's List (1993) and The Artist (2011).
Other awards and honors 
The Apartment also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film from any Source and Lemmon and MacLaine both won a BAFTA and a Golden Globe each for their performances. The film appears at #93 on the influential American Film Institute list of Top 100 Films, as well as at #20 on their list of 100 Laughs and at #62 on their 100 Passions list. In 2007, the film rose on the AFI's Top 100 list to #80. In 1994, The Apartment was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry. In 2002, a poll of film directors conducted by Sight and Sound magazine listed the film as the 14th greatest film of all time (tied with La Dolce Vita). In 2006, Premiere voted this film as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time".
See also 
- Life in a... Metro
- Promises, Promises – a Broadway musical based on the film, with a book by Neil Simon, music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Hal David.
- Box Office Information for The Apartment. The Numbers. Retrieved April 13, 2012.
- Billy Wilder Interviews: Conversations with Filmmakers Series
- Chandler, Charlotte. Nobody's perfect: Billy Wilder : a personal biography.
- 5107 Charles Williams & The Queen's Hall Light Orchestra at GuildMusic.com. Archived from Charles Williams at GuildMusic.com
- Eldridge, Jeff. FSM: The Apartment FilmScoreMonthly.com
- Adoph Deutsch's "The Apartment" w/ Andre Previn's "The Fortune Cookie" Kritzerland.com
- Fuller, Graham. An Undervalued American Classic. The New York Times. 2000-06-18.
- Tino Balio, United Artists: The Company The Changed the Film Industry, Uni of Wisconsin Press, 1987 p 170
- "The 33rd Academy Awards (1960) Nominees and Winners". oscars.org. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
- "NY Times: The Apartment". NY Times. Retrieved 2008-12-23.
- BFI | Sight & Sound | Top Ten Poll 2002 - The rest of the directors' list
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: The Apartment|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: The Apartment|
- The Apartment at the American Film Institute Catalog
- The Apartment at the Internet Movie Database
- The Apartment at the TCM Movie Database