The Apartment
: Billy Wilder
Year: 1960

Countless movies of the ROMCOM genre (romantic comedies) owe it to this gem by Billy Wilder. It has it all – the boy-meets girl situations, the funny one liners, the smart coincidences and the “awwww” inspiring moments – the whole package.
The Apartment is a story of a single man CC Baxter (Jack Lemmon) who lives in a New York apartment and has a desk job at an insurance firm. He lends his apartment after work to his supervisors for their various extra marital liaisons. In return for these favors the bosses give favorable reviews for CC Baxter’s evaluation at work.
One such evening, Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the elevator girl, who is having an affair with Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), the big boss at the firm has an argument in Baxter’s apartment and tries to commit suicide. Baxter and his doctor neighbor save Fran and hide the fact from the police and Fran’s family. Fran spends two days in Baxter’s apartment recovering and the predictable happens. Both Fran and Baxter end up loosing their jobs and Baxter eventually falling for Fran.
The Apartment won the best picture academy award that year. The movie is more than a romantic comedy, it shows the white collar working class struggle that was emerging in the United States of the 60s. Some of the scenes in the movie – like the opening sequence when Baxter steps out of his apartment, takes the elevator to his floor in the skyscraper where he works and settles at his desk is brilliant piece of cinema. It’s a wonderful satire on the miniscule existence of an individual in the daily grind of the corporate world. Look around, you will see many Baxters (you included?).
The dialogues are full of witty one-liners that seem effortless and appropriate. There are many instances of the play with words by adding “-wise” at the end of sentences or words. For example – “And that’s how it crumbles….cookie-wise”.
Shirley MacLaine’s portrayal of Fran Kubelik is a combination of the right portions of fragility, strength and a puppy-esque innocence. Jack Lemmon plays CC Baxter with tremendous nervous energy. His journey from an opportunistic single man struggling to make his mark in a vast organization using whatever means possible, to a self-confident person taking ownership of his acts and his life in general is a treat to watch.
Classics are movies which stand the test of time, 48 years later, “The Apartment” still makes you smile and feel the chemistry between Fran and Baxter. The screenplay of this movie should be (it might be) part of the syllabus of a film school. It has the right balance of comedy, satire and sadness.

Just when you think the script is headed towards the typical formula-esque direction, the movie ends in the famous scene of Baxter and Fran playing a game of rummy on New Year’s eve. Baxter says to Fran “You hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you”. A typical script would end with Fran looking at Baxter all teary eyed and then kissing him. Well not here, she hands him the deck of cards and says “Shut up and Deal!” Now that my dear friends is one reason why this movie is many Everests above the rest.