The apartment in this film is the bachelor pad of C (for Calvin). C (for Clifford). Baxter. It is located in Manhatten, in the West Sixties, just half a block from Central Park. But he has a problem: ‘The only problem is – I can’t always get in when I want to’. Well Mr. Baxter is a schmuck, who isn’t overtly ambitious but who thinks he could be upwardly mobile. He is employed in a large impersonal Manhattan insurance firm. He is Bud to most people in the office and with some three years into the company he discovers a surefire formula of succeeding in the corporate world. It has in other ages and all sorts of climes and all over the world worked well, since corporate world began pooling their resources including their morals. Bud is on to a sure thing. He lets out his bachelor pad to four philandering middle-level superiors and it has its problem as I quoted at the beginning.
Tucked between the riproaring farce of Some Like It Hot and the more brittle One, Two, Three, this tragic-comic 1960 classic was Billy Wilder’s last great film. Wilder is as merciless in deflating the greed and amorality of American corporate world as his innate romantic intuition works with two misfits to give the film its bittersweet moments. Reportedly, Wilder was inspired for the film by watching David Lean’s Brief Encounter (1946) with a short scene about a man who vacates his apartment for a couple’s secret tryst (Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson).
The Apartment won five major Academy Awards out of ten nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay (co-written by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond), Best B/W Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Film Editing.
C.C Baxter (Jack Lemmon) works on the 19th floor of a Manhatten building and he loans his bachelor pads to senior colleagues in the hope of a promotion. He takes fancy for the elevator operator Miss Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) but he dares not make a move.
As he had hoped for, those who had made use of the pad write glowing reports about him that alerts Personnel director Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) and he suspects something hanky-panky going on behind his back; he lets Baxter’s promotion go unchallenged on condition that Baxter’s apartment accept a fifth regular customer. Still delighted about the promotion, Baxter asks Miss Kubelik to a Broadway show. She agrees, then stands him up. On Christmas Eve, Baxter is astounded to come home and find her in his bed, fully clothed, and overdosed on sleeping pills. Mr. Sheldrake had borrowed the apartment for the evening.
Baxter and his neighbor the doctor keep her alive and safe without notifying the authorities. She explains the background: she had earlier an affair with Mr. Sheldrake but it ended abruptly when his wife returned from vacation. She had under pressure and promises again took up the relationship. But when Sheldrake offered her money instead of a Christmas present she realized she was let down badly that led to the present situation. Baxter tries to comfort her.
Kubelik recuperates in Baxter’s apartment for two days, long enough for her taxi driver brother-in-law to assume the worst of Baxter and come to blows. Sheldrake’s secretary,- and one of his former mistresses, tells Mrs. Sheldrake of her philandering husband. Faced with divorce, Sheldrake moves out but continues to take Kubelik to the apartment. Baxter finally takes a stand when Sheldrake demands the apartment for New Year’s Eve, which results in Baxter quitting the firm. Kubelik realizes that Baxter is the man who truly loves her and tells off Sheldrake on New Year’s Eve. She spends that evening with Baxter in the apartment. Both are out of job and they are onto a session of gin rummy to pass New Year’s eve. Baxter declares his love for Kubelik, her reply is one of the famous last lines in any movie: “Shut up and deal”.
Wilder’s film is about two mismatched characters who breaks out of their loneliness during the festive season of Christmas: The Gift of Magi told in cinematic terms where love is stronger than their circumstances.
Dr. Dreyfuss: Be a mensch!
C.C. Baxter: Sorry, Mr. Sheldrake.
J.D. Sheldrake: What do you mean, sorry?
C.C. Baxter: You’re not going to bring anybody to my apartment.
J.D. Sheldrake: I’m not just bringing anybody; I’m bringing Miss Kubelik.
C.C. Baxter: Especially not Miss Kubelik.
J.D. Sheldrake: How’s that again?
C.C. Baxter: [firmly] No key.
J.D. Sheldrake: Baxter, I picked you for my team because I thought you were a very bright young man. Do you realize what you’re doing? Not to me, but to yourself? Normally, it takes years to work your way up to the twenty-seventh floor. But it only takes thirty seconds to be out on the street again. You dig?
C.C. Baxter: I dig.
J.D. Sheldrake: So what’s it going to be?
[Baxter slowly reaches into his pocket for a key and drops it on Sheldrake’s desk]
J.D. Sheldrake: Now you’re being bright.
C.C. Baxter: Thank you, sir.
[Baxter goes back into his office, looks around, then reaches into his closet for his coat and hat. Sheldrake comes in moments later]
J.D. Sheldrake: Say, Baxter, you gave me the wrong key.
C.C. Baxter: No, I didn’t.
J.D. Sheldrake: But this is the key to the executive washroom.
C.C. Baxter: That’s right, Mr. Sheldrake. I won’t be needing it because I’m all washed up around here.
J.D. Sheldrake: What’s gotten into you, Baxter?
C.C. Baxter: Just following doctor’s orders. I’ve decided to become a “mensch”. You know what that means? A human being.
J.D. Sheldrake: Now, hold on, Baxter –
C.C. Baxter: Save it. The old payola won’t work anymore. Goodbye, Mr. Sheldrake.
Fran Kubelik: Shall I light the candles?
C.C. Baxter: It’s a must! Gracious living-wise.
C.C. Baxter: The mirror… it’s broken.
Fran Kubelik: Yes, I know. I like it that way. Makes me look the way I feel.
J.D. Sheldrake: Ya know, you see a girl a couple of times a week, just for laughs, and right away they think you’re gonna divorce your wife. Now I ask you, is that fair?
C.C. Baxter: No, sir, it’s very unfair… Especially to your wife.
Fran Kubelik: When you’re in love with a married man, you shouldn’t wear mascara.
C.C. Baxter: That’s the way it crumbles… cookie-wise.
Fran Kubelik: I never catch colds.
C.C. Baxter: Really? I was reading some figures from the Sickness and Accident Claims Division. You know that the average New Yorker between the ages of twenty and fifty has two and a half colds a year?
Fran Kubelik: That makes me feel just terrible.
C.C. Baxter: Why?
Fran Kubelik: Well, to make the figures come out even, if I have no colds a year, some poor slob must have five colds a year.
C.C. Baxter: [sheepishly] Yeah… it’s me.
C.C. Baxter: You hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.
Fran Kubelik: Shut up and deal.
C.C. Baxter: [narrating] On November 1st, 1959, the population of New York City was 8,042,783. If you laid all these people end to end, figuring an average height of five feet six and a half inches, they would reach from Times Square to the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan. I know facts like this because I work for an insurance company – Consolidated Life of New York. We’re one of the top five companies in the country. Our home office has 31,259 employees, which is more than the entire population of uhh… Natchez, Mississippi. I work on the 19th floor. Ordinary Policy Department, Premium Accounting Division, Section W, desk number 861.
C.C. Baxter: Miss Kubelik, one doesn’t get to be a second administrative assistant around here unless he’s a pretty good judge of character, and as far as I’m concerned you’re tops. I mean, decency-wise and otherwise-wise.
C.C. Baxter: Ya know, I used to live like Robinson Crusoe; I mean, shipwrecked among 8 million people. And then one day I saw a footprint in the sand, and there you were.
C.C. Baxter: [in a bar on Christmas Eve, trying to pick Bud up] Night like this, it sorta spooks you, walking into an empty apartment.
C.C. Baxter: I said I had no family; I didn’t say I had an empty apartment.
Fran Kubelik: Just because I wear a uniform doesn’t make me a girl scout.
—-Kirkeby: Say, why don’t we have ourselves a party, the four of us?
C.C. Baxter: No.
[Kirkeby suddenly sees Fran sleeping in the bedroom]
Kirkeby: [laughs] Well, I don’t blame ya. So you hit the jackpot, eh kid? I mean Kubelik-wise.
[Baxter pushes Kirkeby out the door]
Kirkeby: Now don’t worry, I won’t say a word to anybody.
[with the door almost shut, Kirkeby pushes in one last time]
Kirkeby: Stay with it, buddy boy.
Kirkeby: Premium-wise and billing-wise, we are eighteen percent ahead of last year, October-wise.
Fran Kubelik: What’s a tennis racket doing in the kitchen?
C.C. Baxter: Tennis racket? Oh, I remember, I was cooking myself an Italian dinner.
[Fran looks confused]
C.C. Baxter: I use it to strain the spaghetti.
Fran Kubelik: He’s a taker.
C.C. Baxter: A what?
Fran Kubelik: Some people take, some people get took. And they know they’re getting took and there’s nothing they can do about it.
Margie MacDougall: ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring… nothin’… no action… dullsville!
Fran Kubelik: Would you mind opening the window?
C.C. Baxter: Now don’t go getting any ideas, Miss Kubelik.
Fran Kubelik: I just want some fresh air.
C.C. Baxter: It’s only one story down. The best you can do is break a leg.
Fran Kubelik: So they’ll shoot me – like a horse.
C.C. Baxter: Please, Miss Kubelik, you got to promise me you won’t do anything foolish.
Fran Kubelik: Who’d care?
C.C. Baxter: I would.
Fran Kubelik: Why can’t I ever fall in love with someone nice like you?
Sylvia: You mean you bring other girls up here?
Kirkeby: Certainly not! I’m a happily married man.
Fran Kubelik: I was jinxed from the word go. The first time I was ever kissed was in a cemetery.
Fran Kubelik: Why do people have to love people anyway?
Dr. Dreyfuss: [entering his apartment, he suddenly hears loud music starting from next door] Mildred! He’s at it again.
Fran Kubelik: I’d like to spell it out for you… only I can’t spell!
Fran Kubelik: You fool. You damn fool.
C.C. Baxter: I know how you feel, Miss Kubelik. You think it’s the end of the world — but it’s not, really. I went through exactly the same thing myself.
Fran Kubelik: You did?
C.C. Baxter: Well, maybe not exactly — I tried to do it with a gun.
Fran Kubelik: Over a girl?
C.C. Baxter: Worse than that — she was the wife of my best friend — and I was mad for her. But I knew it was hopeless — so I decided to end it all. I went to a pawnshop and bought a forty-five automatic and drove up to Eden Park — do you know Cincinnati?
Fran Kubelik: No, I don’t.
C.C. Baxter: Anyway, I parked the car and loaded the gun — well, you read in the papers all the time that people shoot themselves, but believe me, it’s not that easy — I mean, how do you do it? — here, or here, or here —
[with cocked finger, he points to his temple, mouth and chest]
C.C. Baxter: — you know where I finally shot myself?
Fran Kubelik: Where?
C.C. Baxter: [indicating kneecap] Here.
Fran Kubelik: In the knee?
C.C. Baxter: Uh-huh. While I was sitting there, trying to make my mind up, a cop stuck his head in the car, because I was illegally parked — so I started to hide the gun under the seat and it went off — pow!
Fran Kubelik: [laughing] That’s terrible.
C.C. Baxter: Yeah. Took me a year before I could bend my knee — but I got over the girl in three weeks. She still lives in Cincinnati, has four kids, gained twenty pounds — she sends me a fruit cake every Christmas.
Directed by Billy Wilder
Produced by Billy Wilder
Written by Billy Wilder
Running time 125 min.
Budget $3,000,000 (est.)
* Jack Lemmon as C.C. ‘Bud’ Baxter
* Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik
* Fred MacMurray as Jeff D. Sheldrake
* Ray Walston as Joe Dobisch
* Jack Kruschen as Dr. Dreyfuss
* David Lewis as Al Kirkeby
* Hope Holiday as Mrs. Margie MacDougall
* Joan Shawlee as Sylvia
* Naomi Stevens as Mrs. Mildred Dreyfuss
* Johnny Seven as Karl Matuschka
* Joyce Jameson as The blonde
* Willard Waterman as Mr. Vanderhoff
* David White as Mr. Eichelberger
* Edie Adams as Miss Olsen
How to Murder Your Wife (1965, Richard Quine)
Made for Each Other (1939, John Cromwell)
Avanti! (1972, Billy Wilder)
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961, Blake Edwards)
The Fortune Cookie (1966, Billy Wilder)
Irma La Douce (1963, Billy Wilder)
Sabrina (1954, Billy Wilder)
Office Space (1999, Mike Judge)
The Graduate (1967, Mike Nichols)
Singles (1992, Cameron Crowe)
Movies with the Same Personnel
Some Like It Hot (1959, Billy Wilder)
The Seven Year Itch (1955, Billy Wilder)
Love in the Afternoon (1957, Billy Wilder)
Kiss Me, Stupid! (1964, Billy Wilder)
One, Two, Three (1961, Billy Wilder)
Irma La Douce (1963, Billy Wilder)
Avanti! (1972, Billy Wilder)
Sette Volte Donna (1967, Vittorio De Sica)
Other Related Movies
is related to: Love in the Afternoon (1957, Billy Wilder)
Buddy Buddy (1981, Billy Wilder)
Some Like It Hot (1959, Billy Wilder)
* Wilder directed Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch (1955) and Some Like It Hot (1959). He grew to despise her demands for star treatment and her poor work ethic, and thus included the party-girl Monroe-esque character in this film.
* Billy Wilder also used the character name Sheldrake in Sunset Blvd. (1950), Ace in the Hole (1951), and Kiss Me, Stupid (1964).
* Shirley MacLaine was only given forty pages of the script and Wilder added as the film progressed. The gin rummy game was added because at the time she was learning how to play the game from her friends in the Rat Pack. Likewise, when she started philosophizing about love during a lunch break one day, this was also added to the script.
* Paul Douglas was cast as Sheldrake but died before filming began.
* Playwright ‘Neil Simon’ adapted the screenplay as the book for his musical “Promises, Promises”
* Although Adolph Deutsch received sole screen credit for the music score, the very popular “Theme from The Apartment” was actually a pre-existing piece of music (originally “Jealous Lover”, 1949) by British composer Charles Williams, who was known for his scores for British films and BBC radio dramas.
* Shirley MacLaine filmed her famous cameo in Ocean’s Eleven (1960) during a break in filming this movie.
* The name on the door next to Baxter’s office is T.W.Plews. Tom Plews was the prop master.
* The office Christmas party scene was actually filmed on December 23, 1959, so as to catch everybody in the proper holiday mood. Billy Wilder filmed almost all of it on the first take, stating to an observer, “I wish it were always this easy. Today, I can just shout ‘action’ and stand back.”
* This is the first Best Picture Oscar winner to specifically refer to a previous winner, in this case Grand Hotel (1932), which Baxter attempts to watch on television but is too long delayed because of commercials. Bud’s boss also refers to Bud and Fran having “a lost weekend” together in Bud’s apartment, a reference to Billy Wilder’s earlier Oscar winner, The Lost Weekend (1945).
* This was the last B&W movie to win Best Picture at The Academy Awards until Schindler’s List (1993).
* Premiere voted this movie as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time” in 2006.
* In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #80 Greatest Movie of All Time.
* The wool coat Fran wears in various scenes actually belonged to Audrey Young, the wife of Billy Wilder).
* It was said that while filming the scene where C.C. Baxter sleeps in Central Park in the rain, Billy Wilder had to spray Jack Lemmon with anti-freeze to keep him from freezing.
* To get Fran (Shirley MacLaine) to look genuinely startled when her brother-in-law punches Calvin (Jack Lemmon), director Billy Wilder smacked together two pieces of 2×4 during the shoot.
* To create the impression of a very large bureau in the scenes where Baxter is behind his desk, director Billy Wilder used dwarf actors and specially designed furniture.
* The nasal spray used by Jack Lemmon was actually milk. Real nasal spray would not have shown up on camera.
* Billy Wilder claimed that he and I.A.L. Diamond already had Jack Lemmon in mind to play Baxter when they wrote the screenplay. In an interview years later, Lemmon confirmed this.
* The studio wanted Groucho Marx for the role of Dr. Dreyfuss, but Billy Wilder said no, stating that he wanted an actor with more dramatic weight for the part.
• Promises, Promises, the musical version of The Apartment, opened at the Shubert Theater on December 1, 1968 and ran for 1281 performances.(imdb)
( ack: imdb,all movie, filmsite, wikipedia)
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