The Apartment Screen 5 articles

The Apartment

1960

The Apartment Poster
  • Wilder, a bilious and mercurial wit, here becomes a wide-screen master of time, parcelling out the office hours, days, and—seemingly—years in meticulously incremental scenes; only Lemmon’s eager-beaver chirpiness and MacLaine’s archetypal pixified sparkle fix a smile on the grim struggle at the movie’s core.

  • Wilder and Diamond's screenplay is the foundation of this well-told tale. It makes masterly use of set-ups and payoffs, most of them encoded in props, such as the cracked makeup mirror that reveals that Fran is Jeff's mistress (while also reflecting her shattered self-image)... The movie is a masterpiece, structure-wise and otherwise—a rare Best Picture Oscar winner that might actually have been the year's best picture.

  • The romance is so affecting (to say nothing of the dialogue, which pops as only Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond's writing can) that it's easy to overlook what a superior piece of filmmaking THE APARTMENT is. Wilder remains underrated as a visual artist; and here, working in sparkling black-and-white 'Scope, he creates some remarkable effects, such as the unforgettable loneliness of the apartment itself and the modernist nightmare of the insurance company office.

  • Not only is it the most Jewish Christmas movie Hollywood ever made, it’s the baseline for all NYC-based romcoms since–all romcoms worth their salt, really. As clever as it is melancholy, New York’s grabby, glamorous melting pot presides as a central character, and its lonelyhearts discover each other via a Manhattan scavenger hunt of great flourishes and rueful afterthoughts. Neither Jack Lemmon nor Shirley Maclaine were ever so sweethearted again, and that’s saying a mouthful.

  • We learn of these entanglements before Fran and Bud do, casting a pall of dramatic irony over the film that's redolent of Wilder's noir-driven work. Yet the tone of The Apartment differs from both those darkly moral movies and the filmmaker's farces, finding a middle ground of somber tragedy that undercuts the awkward comedy of manners between the characters.

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