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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Apartment (1960)

An employee (Jack Lemmon) in the lower ranks of a major insurance company loans his apartment out to company executives for extramarital assignations as a way of climbing the corporate ladder. But things backfire when he falls for the mistress (Shirley MacLaine) of the head (Fred MacMurray) of the personnel department. Billy Wilder's film is considered one of his very best films. Critically acclaimed when it opened and a hit at the box office, it also won the 1960 best picture Oscar. But try as I might, I just can't warm up to it. It's well made, the script (by Wilder and his collaborator I.A.L. Diamond) is sharp and the acting good but I can't put my finger on why it doesn't work for me. Well, maybe I can. The narrative is rather contrived. It would have us believe that all corporate executives are lecherous cheaters and the female staff are promiscuous sluts, at least that's all that we see and the "cute" Jewish couple (Jack Kruschen, Naomi Stevens)  are overcooked stereotypes. There's a smutty wink-wink quality to it. But hey, maybe it's just me! On the plus side, Lemmon and MacLaine are wonderful. Their work here ranks with their best and, of course, they have terrific chemistry. With Edie Adams, Ray Walston, Hope Holiday, Joan Shawlee, Joyce Jameson and Johnny Seven.

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