This week, we are knocking out Resolutions like nobody’s business. I mean, except that they ARE everybody’s business since I’m sharing them on a blog…Whatever. You get it. Anyway, today’s guest is Shakma’s bff, Mr. Brian Johnson. Brian is one half of the hilarious duo over at Hard Ticket to Home Video, and I’m sure you’ve been by there before, but just in case you haven’t, you should probably do so right now. And after that, you should probably read this film resolution.
The Apartment (1960)
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Jack Kruschen, Ray Walston
Directed by: Billy Wilder (Sunset Blvd.; Sabrina; Some Like it Hot)
Synopsis: Lovable sad-sack C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) just can’t say no to his bosses at work and lets them use his apartment to to carry on illicit affairs with female consorts.
What I liked:
• Jack Lemmon is amazingly good in this. He plays the role perfectly, with the perfect amount of neuroticism, unhappiness, defeat, nervousness, elation, fortitude, you name it, Lemmon nails it. It’s hard to imagine any actor ever giving a better performance in this role. I’ve always considered Paul Newman to be my favorite actor of all time with Lemmon a very close second, but watching The Apartment may have tipped the scales in Lemmon’s favor ever so slightly. Could Newman have pulled Baxter off? Possibly, but I doubt nearly as well. On the other hand, would Lemmon have made a good Reggie Dunlop from Slap Shot? Ehhh, probably not as well. But then again, Newman wouldn’t have been as good as Jerry in Some Like it Hot. Maybe they’ll have to settle this in the ring. Does anyone have the numbers of their agents?
• Shirley MacLaine also gives an excellent performance. Fran is a character that was pretty rare and semi-groundbreaking at the time, what with the suicide attempt and her daring to have independent feelings about men.
• Billy Wilder was a master, director-wise. And screenwriter-wise. There’s nothing overly flashy about The Apartment, but Wilder shot films to maximize the dialogue, not to distract the audience with set pieces. And he had an uncanny ability to get the best out of his actors, maybe more than anyone else in movie history. If there’s an antithesis to someone like Michael Bay, it’s definitely Billy Wilder.
What I didn’t like:
• There isn’t a whole lot not to like, so I’ll just put on my special gloves and do some nitpicking. Such as, maybe the movie runs a haaaaaiiiirrrr long. Ten minutes or so probably could have been cut, such as part of the doctor waking Fran up or Baxter’s landlady yelling at him.
• Fran is a great character, but she can get slightly irritating at times, especially going back to Sheldrake after he treated her like garbage and she tried to kill herself over it.. You kind of want to smack her like Dr. Dreyfuss did.
• Fred MacMurray seems a little miscast as Sheldrake. I suppose it wasn’t the case in 1960, especially after his less-than-upstanding character in Double Indemnity, but he seems too much like a lovable dad type to play a heartless philanderer.
• The ending is basically perfect, except for the shot of Fran running to Baxter’s apartment, which was a bit hokey.
• The titular apartment is a head-scratcher, layout-wise. It doesn’t seem like there’d be any room for Dr. Dreyfuss’s entryway. And the fact that there are windows in Baxter’s bedroom must mean that his apartment just juts out from the rest of the building for some reason.
A Worthy Resolution? 100% I just regret I hadn’t seen this years ago. I love this film. I absolutely adore it. I think it should be seen by everyone who loves film, or anyone who has functional eyes and ears. The only thing that may turn you off a bit is the unrelenting misogyny, but you know, it’s kind of the plot of the movie, and was the style at the time. But you’ll rarely root harder for a character to stand up for himself and get what his heart desires in the end, outside of Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. It’s on Netflix Instant now, and there aren’t many better choices on there, movie-wise.
My Grade: A+
A+?! Wow! I’m trying to remember if a guest has ever given one of their resolution films an A+ on here…Brian, you may have just started something. Anywho, I’m THRILLED to see such an awesome reaction! Hopefully we’ll have a few more of those on here! We’ll find out soon, I suppose… 🙂