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#93 - The Apartment

Billy Wilder's 1960 film stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray in a comedy/drama about an office worker who lends out his apartment key to his superiors for their romantic trysts in order to curry their favor, and a pair of such subjects that he gets tangled up with.

My first Wilder film, and a great introduction. I was surprised by the immediate frankness that he deals with the subject of extramarital dalliances. He does not dance around the subject anymore than he has to (considering it's 1960), and although he does have to, it is always clear what is being discussed. The "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" stuff is ever present, but always realistic.

Lemmon and MacLaine are spot-on, all the time. Lemmon is a busybody, a poor schmuck, a lonely romantic and a hero with a heart of gold all at once. MacLaine's eloquent-but-understated expressions perfectly portray fragile beauty. Their interplay is witty, tentative, and tender -- very much at odds with the crass, corrupt business world they seem to live in.

Wilder walks the fine line between a dark comedy and an ironic tragedy very well. This could so easy be overwrought, painfully didactic and just plain sad, but Wilder knows how to keep these sensitive situations funny -- not funny "ha ha," but funny "my goodness what a strange and unfortunate case."

Very, very good. I'm excited for the rest of Wilder's films. (I think he has more in here than Scorsese -- take that, Marty!)

(See this post if you're confused why I'm reviewing movies.)


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