Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


THE APARTMENT (1960) Director: Billy Wilder.

C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) hopes to advance in his insurance company by letting many of the married male executives use his apartment for illicit trysts. He has a crush on the pretty elevator operator Fran (Shirley MacLaine), who, unbeknownst to him, is involved with his boss, Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray). Lemmon muggs a bit too much, MacMurray is fine as a slick aging Lothario, MacLaine is effective as the young lady, and there are some small flavorful character performances. Some good dialogue, although the film leans towards the superficial and its characters lack dimension. Although the film won awards and certainly has its admirers, the general effect is one of tedium. It's not funny enough to be a strong comedy, and the dramatic possibilities of a woman involved with a married man have been milked for better results in countless other movies. We won't even get into the illogical moments, or the fact that the film misses real opportunities for both laughs and poignancy. It's also hard to like a movie with a lead character who for most of the film's running time is a complete door mat. Composer Adolph Deutsch's theme music is memorable, although some might say it rips off Rachmaninoff, whose music was used for Brief Encounter. Billy Wilder was inspired by a scene from that movie to make The Apartment. Incredibly this won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. This is a perfect example of a mediocre movie that makes a lot of money (due to its frank subject matter and the publicity it engenders), wins awards because of the publicity and money, and decades later becomes a supposed "classic."

Verdict: Watch Brief Encounter instead. Phony and predictable, this is not in its league. *1/2.

No comments: