I haven't seen Billy Wilder's The Apartment in a long time: reading Matt Zoller Seitz's 30 Minutes on: "The Apartment" yesterday on the bus on my way to watch The Big Short 1 reminded me why I ought to rectify that omission. 2
In the Ordinary Policy Department of Consolidated Life, Premium Accounting Division, Section W, desk number 861, sits C.C. "Bud" Baxter (Jack Lemmon), the twitchy, socially awkward hero of "The Apartment." He's a nebbish who will grow into a mensch someday, after a long period of misery that we later learn is mainly self-inflicted. Bud loans his bachelor apartment to married Consolidated executives who need a place to take their girlfriends. He falls in unrequited love with an elevator operator, Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), whose affair with top executive Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) is evidence of self-punishing streak as pronounced as Bud's. It isn't until late in the film that we understand where Fran's emotional masochism comes from - that it's part of a recurring destructive pattern of workplace flings that's gotten her drummed out of one job after another.
When's the last time you saw two lead characters in a romantic comedy with this much complexity? When's the last time you saw a film that was hard to categorize as either a comedy or a drama, but had something to enthrall any thinking adult? […]