Let’s Talk About… ‘The Apartment’ (1960)

Thumbnail Film #7 in FilmExodus’ AFI 100 Movies

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The Apartment is one of my all-time favorite films. And I was prepared to hate this movie since it and Billy Wilder beat Psycho and Alfred Hitchcock for best picture and best director at the Oscars. But after seeing it, I can see why. I still am unsure if it is a better picture than Psycho, but I find it to be more enjoyable and it has changed my outlook on life considerably.

It’s a very funny film, with terrific performances from Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine, who as the manic pixie dream elevator girl, Miss Kubelik, gives a heartbreaking performance that dares you not to become infatuated with her. And Fred MacMurray is playing against his Father Know’s Best persona as a philandering married senior manager of a life insurance company. Between this and Double Indemnity, Wilder certainly likes to make MacMurray look like an awful human being.

I responded to this movie mostly because of Lemon’s character’s arc as C.C. Baxter. He starts off as a lonely, pathetic, spineless worker drone who allows his superiors to use his Apartment to bang their secretaries. His jewish doctor neighbor however, only sees different girls leaving his apartment and thinks that it is Baxter, plowing though dame after dame, like Don Draper in a bowler. Throughout the course of the movie, he learns to be a mensch — yiddish for a person of integrity and honor.

And that is why I use his pic as my avatar. He’s always there, reminding me to be be a human being when posting, and not forego being a person of integrity and honor just because I can with relative impunity.

Check out Filmsite’s analysis of the film and Roger Ebert’s review below: