The Apartment (1960)
Feeling thoroughly entertained by a sixty years old film is proof of its timeless storytelling.
The Apartment (1960) is one of those movies that wrote the textbook on the rom-com genre that’s popular in Hollywood to date. Wiki says the film is one of the greatest American films of all time and included in the US National Film Registry and it truly deserves it. This is a definite watch for all movie lovers.
CC.Baxter is a clerical staff in a large New York Insurance firm. Taking advantage of his soft demeanour, the superiors in the office make him spare his apartment for their extramarital affairs with the girls in the workplace. Meanwhile, Baxter falls in love with an attractive and soft elevator operator Ms Fran Kubelik. Did Baxter succeed in keeping his 1960s AirBnB arrangement going without anyone knowing and did Ms Kubelik reciprocate Baxter’s love?
Though Mad Men introduced us to the toxic workplace culture of 60s America, it was shocking to see the prevalence of the exploitation of young ladies by men in power and the acceptance of infidelity as being normal. Also, was the abundance of smoking and drinking. It blew my mind to see the endless rows of tables with tens of thousands of clerks working on a single floor – in the background of the pandemic, it feels stupid we humans put so many under one roof when we should have built outwards – especially the scene where the hero suffers from a bad cold and a running nose, I was reaching to my masks! There is another scene where Baxter reveals all the personal details of Ms Kubelik to her shock, from having read her insurance files – privacy invasion by systems and technology is not a new 21st-century problem, it was there long before. The idea of a key to the executive washrooms, today in the modern workplace this is a practice that is unthinkable, but one that I have seen even a decade ago, mostly in family-run businesses in India.
The screenplay was brilliant, with no fluff or distractions. It is focused on Baxter, which keeps us rooting for him. This film is a masterpiece by Director Billy Wilder. Jack Lemmon as Baxter and Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik are the cutest couples you will see, even though in the film they don’t get a direct romantic sequence between them – they silently express each other’s affection.