Combustible Celluloid
Stream it:
Download at i-tunes iTunes
Own it:
With: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, Willard Waterman, David White
Written by: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond
Directed by: Billy Wilder
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 125
Date: 06/14/1960

The Apartment (1960)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

That Darn Flat

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With The Apartment, Billy Wilder somehow took a story about infidelity and suicide and made it into a comedy. It runs a little long, and it strays off the path from time to time, but one look at Jack Lemmon's office building, with its endless rows of desks and fluorescent lights (borrowed from King Vidor's superb 1928 The Crowd), will hook you. And the rest of the movie rarely lets go.

Lemmon plays an office milquetoast who has somehow let every executive in his building use his apartment for marital dalliances. Shirley MacLaine plays the adorable elevator operator who lets herself get suckered by the big boss (Fred MacMurray) and tries to off herself. Lemmon's head over heels for her, so he nurses her back to health, cooking spaghetti for her and straining it with a tennis racket.

The Apartment won Best Picture in 1960, which I suspect was a make-up for overlooking the superior Some Like It Hot the year before. Nevertheless, The Apartment is a real keeper. It won five Oscars in all, including Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Editing, and Best Art Direction.

In 2012, Fox/MGM released a new Blu-Ray at a bargain price. But the high-def transfer is truly spectacular, highlighting the grain of a beautiful black-and-white film print, as well as the sharp contrast and depth of field of Wilder's frame. Extras include a commentary by film historian Bruce Block, and two featurettes: "Inside The Apartment" and "Magic Time: the Art of Jack Lemmon."

Movies Unlimtied