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U.S., 1960
Directed by Billy Wilder
Starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
Screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond
Approx. 125 min. DCP.

Jack Lemmon's C.C. "Bud" Baxter is just a worker bee in Consolidated Life's teeming corporate hive (its monstrous office set achieved by legendary designer Alexander Trauner's use of forced perspective, with children — Wilder claimed dwarfs — seated at the back-row desks); but maybe the key to his less-than-luxurious Upper West Side pad (where he strains his spaghetti through a tennis racket in a break from TV dinners in front of The Late, Late Show) has trade-in value toward that coveted executive washroom key, and ultimately to the heart of Shirley MacLaine's impossible-to-get elevator operator Fran Kubelik. But even as that (in the words of Wilder) "grand old American folk ritual, the afternoon shack-up" starts him up the corporate ladder — as his key makes the rounds — Lemmon is shattered to find participants include his beloved Miss Kubelik and married boss Fred MacMurray (once again playing a slimy insurance man à la Wilder's DOUBLE INDEMNITY). Inspired by Wilder's speculation about the rendezvous provider in David Lean's BRIEF ENCOUNTER, THE APARTMENT’s mingling of sex, farce and suicide attempt garnered such notices as "a dirty fairy tale" (Saturday Review), "leering and slimy" (New York Telegraph), "slick cynicism and prurient sentimentality" (Dwight Macdonald), while racking up giant box office, and winning five Oscars (out of nine nominations), with Wilder personally lugging home three for Director, Screenplay (shared with writing partner I.A.L. Diamond) and Best Picture. Stunningly photographed in black & white Panavision by Joseph LaShelle (otherwise perhaps best known for the noir masterpiece LAURA).


“Wilder’s all-time classic comedy of corporate and sexual manners…”
The Times (UK)

Film Forum