Sunday, February 28, 2010
The Oscar's -- one week and counting.
This week I am reviewing 1960's 'The Apartment' starring Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray.
Jack Lemmon plays 'C.C. Baxter', a cubicle office worker for an insurance firm in New York.
C.C. dreams of getting ahead and uses his apartment as a means to do so. When the film opens we find he is working late in the office "until it is safe to go home".
Does he have a wife he can't stand?
Is he waiting for his bratty kids to go to bed?
Does he perhaps have a drunken roommate he is waiting to pass out?
None of the above. You see, C.C. is a mild mannered sycophant and bachelor longing to get ahead who lends his centrally located apartment to executives at the firm he works for so they have a place to have their adulterous liaisons in.
All this is much to the great inconvenience of C.C. himself, but each one comes with a promise of bigger things to come for him: "We've got our eye on you, C.C. old boy. We're always looking for bright young men and we have a junior executive position opening up in about a month. You scratch our backs and we'll scratch yours."
So, C.C,. hangs out at the office, at the corner bar, on a park bench and even standing outside of his own apartment in the freezing cold waiting for when it is indeed 'safe' for him to enter. They drink his booze, eat his food while they -- eh hem -- 'entertain'. He even gets woken up at 11:00 at night and told to quickly vacate: "I just met a dame down here at the bar who looks just like Marilyn Monroe. Be a sport old boy, I only need 38 minutes tops. Remember, junior executive."
So, he reluctantly cooperates in the hopes of one day soon achieving that junior executive status.
In the meantime, his neighbors and landlady complain about the noise and have him pegged for a 'playboy' with all the ruckus that comes through the walls -- and he happily lets them think such.
Fred MacMurray plays Jeff Sheldrake, the head of the insurance firm who calls C.C. into his office one day.
C.C. feels that perhaps his time has finally come to move on up.
Mr. Sheldrake tells him that he hears great things about his work ethic; cooperative, bright, stays late.
However, Mr. Sheldrake is no dummy and tells C.C. that he knows the real reason behind C.C.'s sudden popularity with the executives.
"Do you know how this would make us look should word get around? This is a respectable business and you know how people like to talk."
C.C. suddenly feels relieved at having it all end, telling Mr. Sheldrake of the great inconvenience this has caused him and that it will not happen again. No sir.
Mr. Sheldrake then puts in a phone call to his wife to say that he's taking a client to a Broadway show and that he won't be home until late and not to wait up.
C.C. then excuses himself to go back to his cubicle when Mr. Sheldrake asks him if he'd like to go to the show. C.C., flattered that Mr. Sheldrake would like to take him instead of the mentioned client, happily agrees when Mr. Sheldrake then says; "I don't think you get my drift. I was told you were a smart young man..."
Here we go again. So, C. C. writes down his address and exchanges the two Broadway tickets Mr. Sheldrake offers him in exchange for his spare apartment key.
Enter Fran Kubelik played by Shirley MacLaine, the office buildings elevator girl. She notes C.C.'s gentleman-ly attitude; he's the only one who removes his hat in the elevator and doesn't spank her heiny or make innuendos.
C.C. sees in her a girl he could really fall for and asks if she would like to go to the Broadway show with him that evening. She says she has a prior engagement but could meet him there at 8:30.
She reluctantly stands him up after upon meeting her married lover, Mr. Sheldrake.
What ensues is then further shenanigans involving sleeping pills, a tennis racket, spaghetti and gin rummy coupled with further misunderstandings with the neighbors and an angry brother-in-law all resulting in a great ending.
'The Apartment' won Best Picture and Best Director for Billy Wilder.