‘The Apartment’: A Holiday Classic

One night, many, many years ago, my father showed me his favorite film for the first time. I wish I could tell you that I remember that viewing concretely, but the truth is, I don’t. I’ve seen this film so many times, I can’t even remember when the original viewing was, let alone what my first impressions were.

I do, however, remember a viewing from when I was in high school. Something clicked that time, resonated with me on a deeper level. But before I get to all that, a little background. The Apartment, made in 1960, was written and directed by Billy Wilder. If you’re not familiar, he’s responsible for some of the best films of the last century such as Sunset Blvd., Ace in the Hole, and Some Like it Hot. He was known for his snappy dialogue and his satirical edge.

As I’ve mentioned before in this blog, Billy Wilder was influenced to make The Apartment after seeing David Lean’s Brief Encounter. When the couple in Brief Encounter tried to use a friend’s apartment, Billy Wilder got stuck on the friend. What was his life like? With I.A.L. Diamond, he wrote a screenplay about that friend, giving life to Bud “C.C.” Baxter.

The hero, or I should say lead, of The Apartment is C.C Baxter (Jack Lemmon), an ambitious clerk in a major New York insurance company. His superiors at the company use his apartment for their mistresses and he gets promotions. But, all of that becomes complicated when C.C. finds out that the head of his department, Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) has been taking the elevator girl he’s in love with, Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), to his apartment.

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