The Apartment – Billy Wilder
The film opens with a dose of satiric social commentary. There are many ways to get ahead in the business world. The preferred way, which is often a myth, is to put in long hours and work hard. Baxter, however, has found an alternative – all he has to do is provide “favors” to the executives in the Manhattan insurance company where he works. Three of them are married and looking for a convenient location where they can bring dates for after-work assignations. Baxter’s apartment is perfect, and they reach an agreement with him. In return for favorable performance reviews, they get the apartment for a few hours a week.
The Apartment works primarily because of the interaction between Lemmon and MacLaine. In the best tradition of low-key romances, there’s plenty of chemistry, but it’s not necessarily sexual. Their relationship is based not on physical attraction but on a kinship of souls. Consider, after all, that the defining element to generate something deeper from their friendly banter and lighthearted flirting is a suicide attempt. They reveal a lot to one another during those 48 hours in Baxter’s apartment, some of which they don’t realize until events have separated them.
Picture: “The Apartment”
Actor: Burt Lancaster, “Elmer Gantry”
Actress: Elizabeth Taylor, “Butterfield 8”
Supporting Actor: Peter Ustinov, “Spartacus”
Supporting Actress: Shirley Jones, “Elmer Gantry”
Director: Billy Wilder, “The Apartment”