Tag Archives: The Apartment

If Melanie Met Baxter and Fran, at the Apartment…

Everybody is familiar with the concept of a guilty pleasure. We all have our stranger opinions; I just copped to one the other day when I bracketed both Addicted to Love and One Fine Day with The Philadelphia Story. That’s only because I enjoy the presence of George Clooney, Michelle Pfeiffer and Meg Ryan, and I’m a sucker for a romantic comedy sometimes. Either way, I don’t feel “guilty” about it, and why would anybody ever feel guilty about liking a film?
Mel and Jack in Black and WhiteOne Fine Day is one of those movies I enjoy waxing lyrical about, for its breathless atmosphere and its great pool of acting talent. Films of this calibre are a rarity these days, so thank goodness for DVDs. Last night, as well as an umpteenth viewing of the Clooney/Pfeiffer barbfest, I had the pleasure of watching Billy Wilder’s 1960 classic The Apartment for the first time, and it was wonderful. The film is a perfect blend of romance, drama, and comedy, with a lot to say about human nature.cc-and-franThe Apartment stars Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine and their chemistry is great throughout. Blending corporate satire with an odd romance, the real heart of the film is Lemmon’s character, C.C. Baxter, a determined (but lonely) man trying to climb the corporate ladder by offering his apartment as a safe haven for company executives to bring their mistresses each night.shirley-and-fredHis neighbours think he is a notorious playboy who moves from one girl to another. But he only has one woman on his mind, and that is MacLaine’s Fran Kubelik, the adorable elevator girl at work. Matters inevitably get complicated, when Baxter finds out that Ms. Kubelik is the mistress of Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), the boss that he’s been trying so hard to impress.
c-c-baxterThe more Billy Wilder movies I watch, the more I realise what a master he was. My favourites include Double Indemnity, Ace in the Hole, and now, The Apartment. The Apartment is magical, the kind of film that Hollywood doesn’t even try to make anymore, with an ending, reminiscent of When Harry Met Sally…. A marvellous mixture of last-minute tension, humour, pathos and hope.
goddess-in-new-yorkWhile Lemmon and MacLaine entrance the viewer with their dynamic chemistry, and down to earth personas, Clooney and Pfeiffer feel more like a god and goddess on holiday in the Big Apple. Clooney is always Clooney, the charismatic lothario, the last of the old-time movie stars. Michelle manages to pull out the raw, human element at the centre of Melanie, a haughty, heavenly single mother, with beauty to distract, even from the divine Miss McLaine.shirley-maclaineI am more familiar with Shirley’s later roles, so I was surprised by the wholesome naivety of her character in The Apartment. The strong-willed yet deeply vulnerable Fran carries lots of emotional baggage, but I liked her because I could see all the charm, the flaws, and the sweetness that Baxter sees in her.lenses-linger-on-melanieAlthough I wouldn’t claim One Fine Day‘s Melanie Parker to be a spiritual successor to Fran Kubelik, the side-by-side viewings were an insight into changing styles in films. The more I look, the more I realise Michelle’s not quite like anybody else. Not like the young Shirley MacLaine, Carole Lombard or the young Katharine Hepburn. She’s an original who was born in the wrong era.maggie-watches-the-milky-way-man1-3I can’t help but wish then, that Pfeiffer, Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan could’ve taken a machine back through time to get tangled up in a film written and directed by Billy Wilder. A romantic comedy blending the humour of Some Like It Hot, the dialogue of Double Indemnity, with the genius of The Apartment.

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