I did not care very much for The Apartment the first time I saw it – but I was probably too young when that happened and an overdue re-watch of Billy Wilder’s Oscar winner showed me that this is actually one of the best ‚dark comedies’ Hollywood has ever done.
It’s a story that is full of sarcastic and dark humor, desperation and hope – and put together incredibly entertainingly. Jack Lemmon has maybe never been better than as the lonely and unhappy employee who has to sleep in the park while his boss is having an affair in his apartment. He handles comedy and drama with amazing ease while turning his C. C. into one of the most loveable movie characters of all time. And Shirley MacLaine took her rather thankless part and delivers the movie’s most moving and emotional moments. She shows Fran’s guilt over her affair and her inability to lead her life the way she wants it while also delivering various one-liners with great effect. Fred MacMurray also impresses as the man without a conscience.
The screenplay of The Apartment also deserves a special mention. From the first ‘efficiency-wise’ to the last ‘cookie-wise’, it tells a very dark and actually disturbing story of unrequited love, extramarital affairs, attempted suicide and the question of how far one is willing to go to get ahead in the business world and mixes it with a great deal of unforgettable humor and believable characters.
The sweet story of two people who struggle with their own lives and do things they don’t want to do in order to achieve a little happiness is still as powerful and memorable today as it was 50 years ago.