While you might not think of The Apartment as a Christmas movie, most of the film occurs between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Aside from that, it’s one of the best films ever made, any time of year.
Jack Lemmon stars as C.C. “Bud” Baxter, a worker bee at a giant insurance company. In an attempt to get ahead, he lets various married executives use his apartment for meetings with their girlfriends. It’s not the greatest arrangement…he has to find a way to occupy the time between the end of the business day and 8 p.m., when his “tenants” are supposed to be out. They consume all his groceries and leave the place a mess. It would seem that all that aggravation pays off, when he gets promoted on the basis of all the execs’ recommendations. Summoned to the office of the top exec, Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), Bud is offered and accepts a promotion. There is just one condition…Bud must now lend the key to the apartment to Sheldrake only, which Bud readily agrees to do. However, Bud soon discovers that the girl Sheldrake is dallying with is the lovely company elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Bud is in love with Fran, though he may not know it. When he starts to figure that out, his life really gets complicated.
Billy Wilder directed and co-wrote this film, so you know it’s top-notch. Much of the time, the film has the trademark seriocomic vibe he imparted to another film he wrote and directed, Sunset Blvd (1950). The Apartment is both a satire of American corporate society, which doesn’t seem to change much, and a romantic comedy that’ll leave you with a lot of food for thought. The acting is uniformly great; Lemmon and MacLaine, one of the best on-screen couples ever, are perfect as the neurotics who don’t realize right away that they’re perfect for each other, and Fred MacMurray is astonishingly effective as one of the worst cads in a movie ever.
In short, this movie is worth your time. Entertainment-wise, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be glad you spent $4 to see one of the best movies ever.
The Apartment (1960) will show on Saturday, Dec. 29 at 7:15 p.m. as part of Coffee and (Christmas Movies), a film series happening on weekends in December at 8047 Agnes Street, in Detroit’s West Village. Tickets are $4 and popcorn, pop and baked goods are available. Full disclosure: I am hosting the series, along with my husband, and I hope to see you there. For info on other films in the series, visit our site.