The Apartment
SHADOWS MUST SEE MUST-SEE
one of Shadows all-time best dir Billy Wilder scr IAL Diamond, Billy Wilder
with Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, Hope Holiday, David Lewis, Joan Shawlee, David White, Johnny Seven, Naomi Stevens, Edie Adams
re-issue UK 15.Dec.00
winner best film, director, original screenplay, editing, art direction (Oscar 61); best film, actor Lemmon, actress MacLaine (Bafta 61); best film comedy, actor Lemmon, actress MacLaine (Golden Globes 61)
UA 60/US 1h29 5 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
Originally released in June 1960, The Apartment was nominated for 10 Oscars and won five.
Back for its 40th anniversary, Billy Wilder's award-winning classic is a triumph in every way, combining comedy, drama and romance in a perfectly formed plot. It also features Lemmon and MacLaine in top form--charming, tetchy and very funny. Buddy Baxter (Lemmon) is an anonymous worker in a massive New York insurance firm who lends his apartment to executives (including My Favorite Martian's Walston, Bewitched's White and Batman's Lewis) who are looking for privacy with their mistresses. Despite the inconvenience, Buddy knows it will lead to promotion, especially when the personnel director Jeff Sheldrake (MacMurray) gets in on it. But Buddy doesn't know that Jeff's mistress is the elevator operator (MacLaine) he has his eye on.

Crackling with wit and energy, the film is unafraid to tackle serious themes as its characters get increasingly intertwined, and as they struggle honestly with moral issues. Wilder and Diamond were experts at the frothy comedy (Some Like it Hot) but this one has a solid underpinning that makes it much more than mere screwball. The tightly constructed story actually has profound meaning, and brings out the remarkable comedic and dramatic skills of its cast. Lemmon is fantastic--a bundle of joyful nerves and dark edginess that's both hilarious and touching at the same time. While MacLaine perfectly plays the strong-willed yet deeply vulnerable Fran Kubelik in a finely nuanced performance echoed decades later by the likes of Meg Ryan and Melanie Griffith. With Wilder's expert direction, this is quite simply one of the finest comic romances ever made ... and it's great to be able to see it up on the big screen where it belongs.

[PG--adult themes] 11.Dec.00

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall

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