The Apartment (1960)

In Wilder’s Oscar-winning comedy, Jack Lemmon plays an office worker who lends his apartment to adulterous superiors in order to get ahead.

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Introduction

“Wilder’s celebrated collaborator I.A.L. Diamond once aptly described Wilder’s style as a blend of ‘the sweet and the sour’. That happy-sad quality reached a pinnacle in The Apartment.”
Cameron Crowe, The Guardian, 1999

Following the popular and critical success of his gender-bending farce Some Like It Hot (1959), Wilder reteamed with screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond for this darker comedy set in the world of nine-to-five corporate New York. Jack Lemmon was again on hand, this time as lonely office bottom-runger C.C. Baxter, who goes after promotion by allowing his seniors the use of his apartment for their extramarital liaisons. Meanwhile, he hopes to catch the eye of the sassy elevator girl, Fran Kubelik (Shirley Maclaine).

Deliriously funny, The Apartment is also shot through with Wilder’s customary wit and cynicism, creating a bleak vision of estrangement in the modern working city. Celebrated art director Alexander Trauner designed the cavernous open-plan office. The film won five Academy Awards, including best picture and best director.

King Vidor’s pioneering silent classic The Crowd (1928) pre-empted Wilder’s theme of the depersonalising effect of rat-race office work.

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