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The Apartment [Billy Wilder comedy]

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The Apartment (1960) starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
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The Apartment (1960) starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray

In The Apartment, Jack Lemmon is a career-climbing executive who offers his boss the use of his apartment for an extra-marital fling. And he soon gets tangled up with the boss’ flighty and fragile girlfriend (Shirley MacLaine).

The Apartment is a very bleak look at corporate life in America. It’s a dark comedy, with hope towards the end. It’s the story of C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon), an up-and-coming junior executive. He’s a lonely man, somewhat introverted. And the secret of his success is that he “loans” his apartment to various upper management men. For them to have their adulterous affairs in. All he has to do is work late — to not infringe on his superiors’ “extracurricular” activities in his apartment.

He massages his conscience by telling himself it’s the “smart” thing to do. And, nobody gets hurt! But, he has a crush on the building’s elevator operator (Shirley MacLaine). And, she’s the latest in a long line of “conquests” by his boss, played eerily well by Fred MacMurray.

Nobody gets hurt?

Until Shirley’s character is broken-hearted, and tries to commit suicide. MacMurray’s previous girlfriend decides to get even — and tell all to his wife. And she files for divorce. The phrase “guilt-free adultery” has never been more hollow.

A spotlight on kindness

Baxter protects the elevator operator, helps her recover from her suicide attempt — and falls in love. And she does as well. And then …


  • Jack Lemmon (The Great Race) … C.C. “Bud” Baxter. Quiet, nervous, nerdy. Doing what he knows is wrong, to get ahead. Until he can’t take it anymore. He’d previously attempted suicide over a love affair gone wrong. So, he’s very sympathetic to Fran’s suicide attempt …. As well as being in love with her.
  • Shirley MacLaine (Around the World in 80 Days) … Fran Kubelik. She has bad luck with romance, as her tryst with Sheldrake proves. She’s attractive, and kind. And, as Bud helps her recover, she appreciates him. And then, cares for him.
  • Fred MacMurray (The Caine Mutiny, My Three Sons) … Jeff D. Sheldrake. Fred MacMurry plays the selfish, self-centered Sheldrake perfectly. He’s completely detestable. Kudos to the actor.
  • Ray Walston (Silver Streak) … Joe Dobisch. One of the executives who “borrow” the apartment. He actually recommends Baxter for promotion.
  • Jack KruschenDr. Dreyfuss. Baxter’s neighbor in the building, who thinks Bud is a playboy, based on the various women coming to his apartment. His medical skills become critical later in the movie.
  • Naomi StevensMrs. Mildred Dreyfuss
  • David LewisAl Kirkeby
  • Hope HolidayMrs. Margie MacDougall
  • Joan Shawlee (House of Horrors) … Sylvia.
  • Johnny SevenKarl Matuschka. Fran’s brother-in-law, who blames Bud, and punches him out. Cementing Fran’s feelings for Bud.
  • Joyce Jameson (The Comedy of Terrors) … The Blonde.
  • Willard WatermanMr. Vanderhoff
  • David White (Bewitched) … Mr. Eichelberger
  • Edie Adams (It’s a Mad Mad Mad Mad World) … Miss Olsen. Sheldrake’s secretary, one of his many previous “girlfriends”. She’s fired by Sheldrake, for telling Fran about his long line of conquests. And she retaliates, by telling Mrs. Sheldrake!

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