Film Review: The Apartment ~ Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine (1960)

Billy Wilder, the director, cast a satirical eye over the sleaze and corruption of office work in New York. In the hands of another director it could have been very dark. The fundamental misogyny of American life at that time and the systemic power plays by senior managers is laid bare.

C C Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is a junior staff member but he’s unmarried and has an apartment. Lascivious senior managers focus on this and put relentless pressure on him to let them use his apartment for liaisons with their ‘girl-friends’. The apartment isn’t rented it’s loaned out as collateral against ‘a good word’ and subsequent promotion opportunities. Needless to relate Baxter is very cooperative.

Meanwhile Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) operates the office lift. Senior managers slap her bottom and talk to her in a disparaging way, which she clearly doesn’t like. Baxter falls in love with her as does the CEO. The rest is spoiler territory…..

The Apartment is a wonderful film. Satire is incredibly hard to achieve and with the lightest of light touches Wilder has produced a ‘comedy’ and a cutting-edge commentary. Sixty years old but well worth digging out. I bought mine on ebay for less than £3

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