The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

The Apartment

The Apartment poster

Our October Volunteer of the Month pick is courtesy of Ben Tuschman, who has programmed Billy Wilder’s fast-and-funny Oscar-winner The Apartment.

Wage-slave C.C. “Bud” Baxter (Jack Lemmon), strung along with hints of raises and promotions, allows senior executives at his firm the use of his apartment to cheat on their wives. The frequency (and decibel level) of these liaisons lead Bud’s neighbors to believe he leads the life of a playboy. In reality, Bud is very lonely, spending his days wondering how to approach adorable elevator operator Fran (Shirley MacLaine). As it turns out, she is also being manipulated by Bud’s boss (Fred MacMurray), who is now asking Bud for his apartment keys…

Considered edgy upon its initial release for daring to explore workplace sexual shenanigans at a time when discussion of such a topic was unheard of, The Apartment is now remembered as one of Wilder’s finest films.

“A common thread in Billy Wilder’s best films is that it is the women who are the catalysts. Think of Stanwyck’s Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity, or Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard, Monroe in The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot. Even, for that matter, in Ninotchka it is the women who are driving the plot.” — George Perry, BBC

“I admired the social statement Billy was making, and the extraordinary sophistication he brought to making that statement.  And, I liked the idea that Fran was caught in this maze, like everyone else in the film” — Shirley MacLaine; Wilder Times: The Life of Billy Wilder by Kevin Lally

“Deftly blending social satire with light humor, Billy Wilder manages to weave together a film that is both stinging in its social criticisms and generous in its humanity.” — Kate Williams, Pop Matters

The Apartment
Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Edie Adams in Billy Wilder’s The Apartment (1960)