After watching The Apartment again I’m still not sure if it is a screwball comedy, but it probably wouldn’t exist without screwball. At the very least it shares some DNA with classic Hawks and Lubitsch.As a 21st century viewer, watching Billy Wilder’s films might give you a feeling of deja-vu, but it is fine being able to spot Wilder’s deep influence on modern Hollywood. Although his storylines and formulas have been recycled endlessly, it’s hard to deny Wilder’s utter brilliance in creating something so novel. The Apartment does have some 1990’s rom-com feel, not least because Shirley MacLaine’s adorable Fran Kubelick reminds me of Meg Ryan in her heyday. Maybe it’s their button noses, grown-up, charming baby voices. and pixie cuts straight out of Godard’s Breathless.
It’s no secret, I miss the Meg Ryan movies of the 1990s desperately. Joe Versus the Volcano, Prelude to a Kiss, Sleepless in Seattle. They were breezy and care-free and there was nothing mean-spirited about them. How times have changed. Either that, or I’m just getting old. Whenever I write about those films, I can’t help thinking about Michelle Pfeiffer. It’s impossible to write about the nineties without mentioning Michelle. She wasn’t really thought of as a rom-com heroine, until One Fine Day positioned her as the aspiring heir to the screwball queens of yore.Michelle may have never received the best material from a Billy Wilder or a Nora Ephron, but she didn’t need it. She was a natural, the perfect mix of charm, intelligence, and beauty, all topped by the most beguiling of smiles. Only Pfeiffer could have made plausible cause for any fool forsaking the divine Meg Ryan, in fact whenever I watch Addicted to Love and French Kiss my mind reels at the thought of Michelle playing the “goddess” Juliette, or Maggie’s nemesis Linda. How hot would that have been? It’s probably just as well they never teamed up, because my Pfeiffer-addled brain tells me watching Mid-’90s Meg and Mid-’90s Michelle together on the same giant screen may have caused me to spontaneously combust.