Billy Wilder - The Apartment (1960), 6/10

The notorious apartment, host of men seeking refuge with their mistresses, also home to their most trusted pawn, also hosts a compelling and realistic love story thinly delineated by its comedy. As an insurance clerk actively climbing the corporate ladder, C.C. Baxter quickly learns that with financial success comes moral bankruptcy. His romantic fixation on one of his superior’s extramarital playmates complicates an already tragic scene. The constant juggling of dramatics and his need to juggle neighbors, coworkers, and women brings his public perception into play, although Baxter rarely takes this into consideration beyond pragmatism, one of his most admirable traits. While his general submissiveness towards others contributes to his anguish, the transformation from a pawn to something more akin to a knight makes Baxter’s character all the more compelling. Fran’s character is somewhat one dimensional apart from her direct relationship with Sheldrake and Baxter, but she separates herself with a few nuanced context clues and some of her behavior during the course of the film, making her much more than a simple object of interest, at least in comparison to the film’s contemporaries. The film suffers primarily from an overly simplified take on corporate America, despite its accuracy, mostly because its symbolism is so overt it becomes jarring. The comedy stands the test of time, but the result is limited by its own aspirations. Lemmon is wonderful, of course, the same can be said for MacLaine, even for most of the supporting cast. There is no doubt that it is easy to root for Baxter in his growing disdain for his superiors and his infatuation for Miss Kubelik with charming touches like the exchange of catch phrases and imitation, also featured in the poster and promotions. For these simple reasons The Apartment is successful and entertaining, making it another strong film from Wilder in his signature style.