Today is one cloudy heavy raining day and I spend my whole day watching classic movies. For a long time, I prefer nowadays movies, mostly because they are easier to find and download, they come in color, and they are in HD quality. But recent years, I’ve fallen in love with classic movies. Even though finding and downloading them is hard, watching the fabulous acting, the great scripts, hearing the beautiful music from the 50-60s is quite an enjoyment. Today, I review one of my favorite classic movie: The Apartment (1960).
Billy Wilder has directed this fantastic comedy, romance movie and led it to 5 Oscars (in a total of 10 nominations). The movie is about a nerdy, naive, good-natured salaryman in a Manhattan insurance office. He’s been bullied into letting sleazy married bosses use his bachelor apartment after work to play with their girlfriends. Even 57 years later, I still wow with this easy but so attractive plot. All the scheduling for 5 bosses and the misunderstandings from neighbors keep me laugh the whole movie. I even have to ask myself, why now we can’t see any comedy and script like that. The movie’s duration is more than 2 hours (which is quite long for a comedy romance movie), but the way Billy Wilder telling the story, the frank dialogues can keep any viewers stick to the movie till the end. What I love the most is the “fire –circle”: Mr. Sheldrake fired his secretary, his secretary told Mrs. Sheldrake about his love life and Mrs. Sheldrake fired her husband from home. (LOL)
The plot and the script aren’t the only amazing thing in “The Apartment”. The acting of Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine is incredible. Young viewers nowadays don’t know who Jack Lemmon is, so the only thing you need to know about him is: the mentor of Kevin Spacey is this guy. Kevin even seen this man as his 2nd father, Kevin Spacey admitted that Jack was the one kept him on the acting path. Back to the main topic, the acting of Jack Lemmon in The Apartment is so great. He uses comedy as it should be used, to evoke a rainbow of emotions. In him, we can see ourselves, gentle, a little bit naïve, and that’s the way he connected with viewers. Jack Lemmon also over-used “–wise” words which are strange but create a lot of funny moment. Watching the movie means watching the change in Jack’s emotions and perspective, from an ambitious materialism young man into a loved guy who quit his newly promoted position for the elevator girl.
Shirley MacLaine in this movie is the beautiful elevator girl. If you have seen her in recent movies, I bet you can’t spot her in The Apartment. She is so beautiful, elegant, smart. Her ability to play it broad where it should be broad, subtle where it must be subtle, enables the actress to effect reality and yet do much more. Her psychological change parallel with Jack and in the end of the movie, that 2 lines meet. Shirley’s connection with viewers is strong, mostly by her body language, gesture and the way she talks.
The Apartment also got terrific music. Even though most tracks are predictable because the movie was set in the Christmas and New Year Eve, the “Auld lang syne” and “Jingle bells” didn’t recall happiness and warmness in the cold weather, they separate the character from the environment to create more controversial in the movie. The best track is “Jealous Lover” by Charles Williams. It was played 2 times in the movie but each time it triggered different emotions.
You can listen to this track here:
After half century, The Apartment is still one of Billy Wilder’s masterpiece. There are still many things nowadays filmmakers can learn from this movie. Maybe “That’s how it crumbles…you know, cookie-wise!!”