Quick recap: C.C. Baxter works for an insurance company and figures out the best way to move up in the business: by renting out his apartment to all the men in his office who are having flings. It’s like Mad Men, but told from the perspective of the lonely bachelor watching everyone else get lucky.
Fun (?) fact: During the scene where Baxter has to sleep outside in the cold, director Billy Wilder had to spray him with anti-freeze so that he wouldn’t get sick. I actually have no idea if this was true, but the trivia for The Apartment was rather dull and this is the best of the bunch.
My thoughts: This past February 28th, I had the BEST.IDEA. EVER. to watch all Best Picture Winners that were also on my list and then try to decide if they were worth the Oscar. On March 1st, I promptly gave it up because there were only 4 movies that matched both lists on Netflix Instant. Not wanting to completely waste the month, however, I ended up watching the movies anyways. I’m sort of surprised The Apartment won Best Picture because it’s rather lighthearted and sentimental instead of pretentious and stuffy.
As mentioned above, watching The Apartment is like watching a very long episode of Mad Men. Except more depressing, if that is even possible. It seems as if every married man in the movie is having an affair and some of them, more than one. I’m pretty liberal when it comes to this sort of thing but even for a movie made in 1960, the way women were portrayed was atrocious. Every single woman gleefully let these men treat them horribly and didn’t think twice about hopping into bed with them. The one woman who had any sort of character development was Fran, and she ended up trying to kill herself over a serial cheater. Baxter wasn’t involved in any cheating but he didn’t do much to stop it either, until he could get the position he wanted. He felt little to no guilt until Fran took all the sleeping pills and at the end of the movie refused to hand over his key ,not out of some white knight complex, but because he had fallen for her. Sure, Fran ultimately left her relationship with Jeff Sheldrake, the cheater, but then moves on to someone else.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the movie. There were several legitimately funny scenes, especially between Baxter and his neighbor, who thinks he has several girls over every night. I’m not much for the romance genre but I felt The Apartment had heart. Baxter was so sweet to Fran as she recovered from her overdose and I think I may have swooned when he refused to take advantage of her and instead play a game of Gin Rummy. The ending where he confesses his love for her was a little hokey, but I loved her line, ‘Shut up and deal’ in response. As a side note, I had NO idea Fran was played by Shirley MacLaine until the end of the movie. She was so adorable and made me briefly consider getting a pixie hair cut (not going to happen, Andy).
Final review: 4/5. Sexism abounds but it was the 60s, so not unexpected.
Up next: Rebel Without a Cause or Salt of the Earth