Note: This is #39 in my 52 Classic Movies in 52 Weeks challenge for 2009.
The Apartment is one of the few movies where I’m not quite sure why it’s on this list. I feel like I’m missing something.
It features Jack Lemmon as C.C. Baxter, a sad sack corporate drone for a New York insurance company who is never able to enjoy his cozy apartment because he has been bullied into making it available to his employer’s corporate executives so that they can invite ladies over for extramarital affairs. So most nights find Baxter standing morosely on the street underneath his own apartment window, seething and waiting until he can go home. He’s doing these favors mostly because he hopes that they will fast track him to a big promotion, but you also get the sense that he’s just a pushover and really going nowhere. Then comes along Fran Kubelik (Shirly McClain), the cute elevator girl (elevator girl? Oh, right, 1960) with whom Baxter becomes smitten. The only problem is that Miss Kubelik is herself smitten with the one of the other executives, Mr. Sheldrake (Fred McMurray), who starts inviting her back to Baxter’s place and stringing her along for a tryst.
Billed as a “romantic comedy” The Apartment seems kind of short on laughs. But the performances are good. Lemmon is good in the role and sells his whole lonely, frustrated bachelor role pretty well. And McClain is also good as Miss Kubelik, playing her not as a ditz but as a young woman who’s almost earned the right to call herself world-weary and jaded, but not quite. And there’s some neat commentary in there about the life of a wage slave owing everything to a slothful feudal lord. Both Baxter and Kubelik fawn over Mr. Sheldrake in their own way, and each are disappointed and unfulfilled by what they get out of it.
So the film has some nice character work and development, some good performances, and it’s cute. My wife watched this one with me, and she enjoyed it as well. It just doesn’t seem to me to be quite on the same level as some of the others that I’ve watched in this experiment.