HASTY REACTION: The Apartment (1960) Directed by Billy Wilder; watched on DVD. The latest in my personal Festival of Billy Wilder Movies I Haven’t Seen Yet. I was a little apprehensive because in a recent re-watching of Some Like It Hot, I found Jack Lemmon’s comedic affect to be jarring, over-the-top and unfunny. Released only a year later, The Apartment re-teamed Lemmon and Wilder, but fortunately the circumstances were considerably different. The central device of insurance drone C.C. “Bud” Baxter (Lemmon) allowing executives the use of his bachelor apartment for their extramarital trysts in return for professional advancement establishes a rather darker palette than two guys in drag joining an all-girl band. It’s a comedy, but the kind that rests upon all-too-familiar predicaments, e.g. being conscripted into the secrets of others. The movie takes off and flies because of Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik, elevator attendant and the object of Bud’s desires. The 26 year old MacLaine is irresistible — she speaks volumes in few words (compared to the voluble Bud), with a face both beguiling and wholly incapable of untruth. A thoroughly good movie; I now see why so many list it among their favorites, and how influential it has been to later filmmakers (Exhibit A: Cameron Crowe).
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