There’s Nothing Like It: Movie-wise, love-wise, laugh-wise or otherwise-wise

The original poster and tagline for The Apartment always amuses me (this post’s title is a derivative), and really it’s a claim that’s a bit brave. But, I think it’s accurate for the most part because; really, The Apartment is unlike anything that’s appeared on the screen movie-wise or otherwise-wise, before or since.C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is just another face in the crowd at insurance corporation Consolidated Life of New York, trying to ingratiate himself with the management by allowing them to use his apartment for their extra-marital trysts. As he slowly moves up the ladder, he begins to fall for sweet elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), little knowing she’s caught in a nasty love triangle with his boss, the slimy Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray).The lovable Baxter pines after the unobtainable Ms. Kubelik, while the vulnerable Ms. Kubelik carries on a thankless affair with Sheldrake, who promises to divorce his wife and marry her. From there, the plot twists and turns; with Billy Wilder’s gift for dialogue and plotting on full display.Ms. Kubelik is an acting challenge: a charming and almost obtainable girl next door. If The Apartment had ever been remade (god forbid) this was exactly the sort role that Meg Ryan specialised in. Though I’ll often cite Michelle Pfeiffer as the master when it comes to facial comedy, I still fall hook, line and sinker for Ryan’s shtick every time. Michelle was great, but Maggie was the all-time queen.The Apartment becomes even more Meg Ryan-ish when you watch its When Harry Met Sally-esque ending. Fran makes a teary-eyed love dash on New Year’s Eve, only to stop short at Baxter’s door, when she thinks she hears a gun shot. It was actually a champagne cork popping. What follows isn’t a kiss, or a declaration of love, just a simple game of gin rummy. “Shut up and deal,” says Fran, giving the film a touching finalé, while maintaining its dignity and wit.

7 Comments

Filed under Fantasy Film, Retrospective

7 responses to “There’s Nothing Like It: Movie-wise, love-wise, laugh-wise or otherwise-wise

  1. The Apartment is a nearly perfect movie. The Jack Lemmon shtick is in full effect, here and it’s a wonderful performance to behold. Shirley MacLaine performance anchors the film marvelously. Her timing, her expressions are impeccable–as is Billy Wilder’s direction. There is a reason that there are so few films like The Apartment–so few director’s can pull off a romantic comedy with so much physicality–and yet, it’s anything but silly.

  2. I adore this movie – only discovered it recently for a blogathon – definitely one for Meg Ryan. You summed this up fantastically as “a charming and almost obtainable girl next door”. Who would you cast in the Jack Lemmon role?

  3. Ooh…this one sounds good. I’m going to give it a watch! Especially if you can picture Meg in it 😊

  4. Great post 🙂 I also have to say that the visualizations are uncanny 🙂 Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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