C.C. Baxter: I said I had no family; I didn’t say I had an empty apartment.
Watching ‘The Apartment’, it is easy to see how Jack Lemmon evolved into a grumpy old man. It’s the ultimate “nice guys finish last” tale and Jack Lemmon, playing C. C. Baxter, is the nice guy.
The film also stars Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik, the pleasant elevator operator with a dark secret or two to hide, and Fred MacMurray as the imposing insurance company boss, Mr Jeff Sheldrake. (Fred MacMurray bears an uncanny resemblance to Sam Neill, so it is unsurprising that I had a hankering for read meat by the end of the film – speaking of which, we’re off to see the double-header of Jurassic Park and Jaws on the big screen tonight – I can’t wait! I also can’t believe that neither made it to the Top 100 imdb list – Jaws comes in at 137 and Jurassic Park is nowhere to be found!)
But I digress…
I don’t know if I could go so far as to call ‘The Apartment’ a black comedy, but it was certainly a dark one. Then again, perhaps that’s just because what once may have passed as flirtation would now be considered stalking, and I don’t think I’d be quite as inclined to giggle demurely at a man who confessed to knowing everything about me (including where I lived and who I lived with) because he’d looked up my insurance card in the company files.
On the other hand, the office Christmas Party scene is lots of fun and an interesting insight into the “glory days” of sexual harassment in the workplace. Having met my own future husband at work, I am just slightly envious of how easy it was to get your point across back then without getting yourself sued or sent to the boss’ office like a naughty school kid (yes, this happened to me, and yes, it was mortifying).
The film introduces some great caricatures, like the Marilyn Munroe wannabe, and the happily married woman, Mrs Margie MacDougall:
Margie MacDougall: ‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring… nothin’… no action… dullsville!
After downing enough martinis to leave James Bond shaken not stirred, Margie and C.C. enjoy one of the most hilarious drunken slow dances I’ve ever seen before heading back to ‘The Apartment’ where the drama unfolds.
Shirley MacLaine’s character, Fran, is hard to like in this film. When we first meet she appears to be a feisty little firecracker, but as the film goes on she is revealed as the troubled trouble-making drama queen she really is:
Fran Kubelik: When you’re in love with a married man, you shouldn’t wear mascara.
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.
Fortunately, by the end of the film, C.C.’s simple-minded outlook has rubbed off on Fran somewhat, and she is able to stand up for her feisty former self just one last time:
Fran Kubelik: I’d like to spell it out for you… only I can’t spell!
I don’t want to spoil the film for anyone, but we’re all adults here and we all know that the “nice guy” gets the girl in the end… but NEVER in my life have I EVER felt LESS like the leading man and leading lady should be together! Between the two of them and their various manifestations of mental illness it’s a recipe for tennis-racquet-strained-spaghetti-and-meatballs disaster. The closing scene offers up a most depressing insight into their future life together:
C.C. Baxter: You hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.
Fran Kubelik: Shut up and deal…
Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine won neither my heart nor the Acadmey Awards they were nominated for. They can therefore just “shut up and deal with” their 7.5 pumpkins.
Have you seen ‘The Apartment’? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments below.