Why I Love The Apartment
By Valerie Temple, Programming Manager, BMFI
[This post contains SPOILERS, so be warned!]
The Apartment is my declared favorite movie. When someone asks me “What’s your favorite movie?” I answer, “The Apartment” without hesitation. This wasn’t always the case. Years ago, whenever someone dared to posit the dreaded favorite movie question, I would refuse to give a straight answer. “It’s too hard to pick just one,” I’d say. “I can give you my top ten, but that’s the best I can do.”
But then, during my junior year of college, I checked a certain VHS tape out of the campus media library to watch alone in my dorm room. Although hardly an ideal viewing environment for such a classic, the small screen failed to diminish the impact of Billy Wilder’s masterful direction, I.A.L. Diamond’s sparkling dialogue, and, most importantly, the intoxicating chemistry between leads Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. I was hooked immediately. It was love at first sight, and eleven years later it still tops my list.
What’s so great about The Apartment?
I’m glad you asked!
Bittersweet comedy – Although The Apartment retains the #20 spot on the American Film Institute’s 100 Years…100 Laughs list, it differs tonally from most straightforward comedies. This atypical film combines laugh-out-loud comedy with some very dark moments. I mean, how many comedies out there include a suicide attempt by one of the main characters?! And yet these tragic scenes do not detract from the overall humor of the film. In fact, they imbue the story and characters with humanity that is often not found in less sophisticated fare. The tightrope balance that Billy Wilder manages to tow between comedy and tragedy is truly commendable, and sets The Apartment apart from the rest.
|C.C. "Buddy" Baxter (Jack Lemmon) receives his highly-anticipated promotion after allowing his superiors to use his apartment for their romantic encounters.|
|Buddy tries to impress Fran (Shirley MacLaine) with his creative cooking skills.|
I could go on and on, but those are just three reasons I love The Apartment, and three reasons for you to see the gorgeous 35 mm print of the film screening at Bryn Mawr Film Institute on Wednesday, July 11 at 7:00 pm. Don’t miss it!
Valerie Temple is the Programming Manager at Bryn Mawr Film Institute. She has an M.F.A. in Film Production from Boston University and thinks she's very funny. (Her words.)