Monday, 30 May 2011

AFI 100 Movies #93 The Apartment (1960)

This has to be one of my favourites so far. Directed by Billy Wilder, who also directed Some Like It Hot (AFI 100 Movies #14).

Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, a man whose pursuit of climbing to the top of the company he works for has meant that he has neglected his love life.

In order to speed his progress through the ranks at the company, he allows members of the management to use his apartment when entertaining lady friends in exchange for good reports and swift promotions.

Baxter becomes smitten with company elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), who has to endure being sexually harassed by her male colleagues. Baxter appears to be the only man working there who treats her with respect. He plucks up the courage to ask her out on a date, and she promptly stands him up, as we learn that she is secretly having an affair with Mr Sheldrake, the company managing director.

Sheldrake asks Baxter if he can borrow his apartment, as he has a date lined up, Baxter, unaware of who the lady in question is, agrees to make himself scarce while the two lovers make use of the facilities.

Fran is hopeful that Sheldrake will leave his wife to be with her, but he seems to keep stringing her along. She presents him with an LP as a christmas gift,  which he tells her he will have to leave at Baxter's apartment as his wife may discover it. In return he gives a lame excuse about not having time to get her a gift and hands her a $100 bill.

She obviously (and rightly) sees the "gift" for what it is and gets upset. After Sheldrake goes and leaves her on her own in the apartment she decides to end it all, and takes an overdose.

Baxter returns home to find her unconscious, and with the help of a friend next door who is a doctor, saves her in time.

For the rest of the film, the viewer is left wondering whether Fran will fall for Sheldrakes' lies or come to her senses and realise that her ideal man has been there all along in the form of Baxter.

Lemmon is charming and funny, and he puts up with a lot of grief because of trying to prevent his superiors from being exposed, and in turn trying to cement his place at the top of the company hierarchy.

Shirley MacLaine plays Fran sympathetically and you feel sorry for her when she gets messed around by the unpleasant character of Sheldrake.

If you haven't seen it yet, I would heartily recommend it.

Great stuff!

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