Tuesday, 25 February 2014

The Apartment

1960 - Dir.: Billy Wilder - 2 hours 5 minutes
Shown at The FeckenOdeon on 22nd February, 2014

When Billy Wilder made “The Apartment” in 1960, offices were only on the edge of being mechanised and armies of people were needed to operate them. One of the opening shots in the movie shows Jack Lemmon as one of a vast horde of wage slaves, working in a room where the desks line up in parallel rows almost to the vanishing point. This shot is a deliberate tribute to King Vidor's silent film “The Crowd” (1928), which is also about a faceless employee in a heartless corporation. Strangely the “open plan” office has made a comeback in recent years. 
This is the director’s second collaboration with Jack Lemmon, who plays a variation on that recurrent Wilder character, the weak guy who becomes a pimp or a gigolo to advance his career. In this instance, he's an insurance company clerk who wins promotion by lending his Manhattan flat to lecherous senior employees, among them his chilly departmental chief, superbly played by Fred MacMurray, also making his second appearance in a Wilder film. Alexander Trauner's sets are unforgettable and Shirley MacLaine is deeply moving as the exploited lift attendant Lemmon comes to care for. One of the striking things about this film isn't the romance, or even the comedy, but the shabbiness, pettiness and nastiness of the office politics - many of us will sympathise!
The scene on the cold night on the park bench was really cold. Jack Lemmon had to be sprayed with anti-freeze to stop him frosting over.
The nasal spray was actually milk - real spray wouldn’t have shown up on the black and white flm
C.C. Baxter is just a poor worker - but inside his apartment are two authentic Tiffany Studios lamps, worth hardly anything when the film was made, but now worth between $30,000 and $40,000 each.

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