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CHUD Movie Club: THE APARTMENT discussion
#1
Have at, kids.
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#2
Really dug this movie. Very melancholy, but also very sweet.

The central theme of the film seems to be the invasiveness of one's job and the lack of privacy of working for a corporate machine. This time, it's taken to absurd lengths. Not only is Bud consumed in the monotony of his job WHILE he is at work, but he can't even go home because his work life has invaded his apartment!

This slave like devotion to the "boss" and the system is main reason why he and Ms. Kubelik are so drawn to each other - they're both climbing the corporate ladder (albeit in different ways) at the sacrifice of their own happiness and privacy. Bud finally decides that there are more important things in life than corporate success, and his decision inspires Ms. Kubelik to make the same choice.


Lemmon is truly one of the greatest actors ever, and he deftly bounces back between quiet comedy and soul-crushing sadness. There's a great moment where where Ms. Kubelik asks him how many drinks he's had and he says "Three." But raises FOUR fingers. Small comedic touches like that really help make his preformance something special. On the flip side, how sad is that moment where he looks into the cracked mirror, realizing exactly who Sheldrake has been bringing to his apartment. His hurt is absolutely palpable.

A wonderful, sweet movie.
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#3
Shit, did everyone forget to watch the film this time?
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#4
I need to watch it again, soon, but I love how Wilder finds these absolute serene moments in utter chaos. He's the master at this.

I love how we follow Lemmon outside and then when he sits on the bench, sniffling. It's such a great small character moment, being all alone, and Wilder doesn't mine it for all to see, but rather takes his time.

More later, but that's all I've got for now.
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#5
BTW Fred McMurray shows that he was an actor who derserves better then to be remembred for that lame sitcom he did in the 60's and 70's. He was a first class heel both here and in the early Wilder film "Double Indemnity".
I think that "Sunset Boulevard" was Wilder's best film, but "The Apartment " is not far behind.
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#6
The movie really does an excellent job of going from lighthearted comedy to dark, serious drama, and then finding a dark-comedy medium. It may be the best dark romantic comedy ever. McLaine is fantastic, and Lemmon, well, this sold Lemmon for me, my favorite of his performances.

Wilder made a movie about love, involving suicide, in 1960, and he did it amazingly well.

Werbal mentioned the theme of work taking over your life, and I agree, but an even broader theme is power, and how people in power take advantage. Sheldrake had power over Baxter, and Kubelik, and he abused the shit out of it. C.C. was just helping his boss, and it seemed that no one was getting hurt, so why shouldn't he? Baxter was a good guy who was led by power and charisma to fuck with people's feelings, he didn't know how bad it was until Kubelik showed up, how could he? But think of how many other Kubelik's had been in Sheldrake's life, or people like Sheldrake. All the people that were being emotionally thrown around because some business-school dick wants to have a little fun, and innocent, nice guys like Baxter who only help out.

Now, after Kubelik comes into Baxter's life, we see what a good man in power can do. Obviously, Baxter has power over Kubelik, but he doesn't abuse it, in fact, he doesn't even take advantage of it. It could be that he's fallen in love with her, but I can't imagine him throwing someone else out if they had the same problem. Plus, he's "a pretty good judge of character". Sheldrake on the other hand, well, we saw his reaction to the news, in what was played out perfectly by those involved. What a dick.

Anyway, somewhere in this babble, you'll find that the movie is great, Lemmon is amazing, Wilder is masterful, McLaine is another synonym for great, and all people who go to business school are dicks. Also, the movie has some great quotes: (and I in no way whatsoever took these from IMDB...at all)

Baxter: The mirror...it's broken
Kubelik: Yes, I know, I like it that way. It makes me look the way I feel

Baxter: You hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.
Kubelik: Shut up and deal.

Edited to add: MacMurray is great as well. Such an asshole... I agree with he who said that Sunset Boulevard is Wilder's best, with this at a VERY close second and Double Indemnity as my personal third.
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#7
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#8
Quote:

Wilder made a movie about suicide, and love, in 1960, and he did it amazingly well.

I think a major factor in this was Wilder's deft use of dialogue. The subject matter is pretty risque stuff, but the way Wilder dances around any possible sticking points with his clean and precise dialogue is fairly remarkable. Even more remarkable considering Wilder didn't speak a lick of English when he first came to America. He's a real master of the language.
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#9


She's so pretty in this film.
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#10
Agreed. I fell in love with her when Bud first saw her (well, in the film, not in their universe). McClaine's beauty and tender presence help make Bud's actions and feelings all that much more convincing.
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#11
Quote:

Originally Posted by Werbal_Kint

Wilder didn't speak a lick of English when he first came to America.

That's just not fair.

Quote:

Originally Posted by devincf

She's so pretty in this film.

Yes.

I changed that line that you quoted up there Werbal. This film wasn't about suicide, but it used it as an example to bring the theme to about as extreme of an extreme as you can get.



(Woohoo, 100 posts!)
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#12
One of the things that I love about the film, and one of the things that I think makes it so modern, is how it earns the ending. And even the happy ending here isn't one that's full of momentous music and a kiss - it's incredible in how soft it is. But that last line carries so much meaning and it gets the point across better than any windswept love scene or something.
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#13
Bud and Kubelik's romance doesn't even seem like the main focus of the ending. To me, it seems like Wilder wanted greater attention paid to the fact that these two individuals had managed to escape their personal prisons. This is why it ends with "Shut up and deal" rather than a big wet kiss.

Will Bud and Kubelik live happily ever after? Well, we can't say for sure, but they both finally have the POSSIBILITY of attaining happiness, which is actually more important than the result.
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#14
I hate to say it, but I have a hard time connecting with this movie.
I'm hanging on to it to give it a second viewing in a day or two.
One thing I do admire is the way Wilder starts the film in full throttle, establishing the premise in a ten minute vignette. It's a very theatrical way of opening the film, I think. This seems to be his trademark. Any other version of this story would first introduce Lemmon's character and then show a series of contrived situations detailing just how his apartment turned into a brothel. Wilder is smart enough to go straight to the meat of the tale.
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#15
Quote:

Originally Posted by BobClark

I hate to say it, but I have a hard time connecting with this movie.
I'm hanging on to it to give it a second viewing in a day or two.

Is it something with the characters that's not jiving or is it the story?
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#16
Fred MacMurray is my favorite thing about this movie. He's so slimy, so casually evil, that you can't wait to see what he's going to do next.

This really becomes apparant when you consider him in relation to the other users of the apartment. They seem like adolescents, somehow not fully aware of the havoc they're wreaking in the lives of others. MacMurray, though - he's fully aware, and he doesn't give a shit. That makes it all the sweeter when MacLaine dumps him in the restaurant.

On another note, this movie is so risque that I'm surprised it got made. Was it scandalous in its time?
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#17
Quote:

Originally Posted by FrankCobretti

On another note, this movie is so risque that I'm surprised it got made. Was it scandalous in its time?

Well, it was made in 1960, which, though not yet a full blown liberal time for cinema, was quite different than, say, the late 40s. I've looked to try and find if there was some sort of reaction to the film, but I can't find any. I'm guessing probably no, since it did win Best Picture that year.
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#18
Interesting. Thanks, Werbal.
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#19
Quote:

Originally Posted by Werbal_Kint

Is it something with the characters that's not jiving or is it the story?

I'm pretty sure it's the characters. I'm not relating with anyone. That's not a requirement for enjoying a movie, but I don't feel like I care enough about what happens to them.
Plus, oddly enough since I like all eras of film, I found myself distracted by the time period. I was actually thinking, "Oh, neat! A hat rack at the office. Look at that archaic channel changer!"
Still, I enjoyed it. But I'm hoping more will reveal itself on a second viewing.
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#20
Quote:

Originally Posted by Werbal_Kint

Well, it was made in 1960, which, though not yet a full blown liberal time for cinema, was quite different than, say, the late 40s. I've looked to try and find if there was some sort of reaction to the film, but I can't find any. I'm guessing probably no, since it did win Best Picture that year.

I'm pretty sure it was considered hip and cutting edge, but not scandalous. It was (and still is) true adult entertainment.
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#21
Quote:

Originally Posted by Werbal_Kint

Is it something with the characters that's not jiving or is it the story?

For me it was the characters. At first I was really having a hard time identifying with the Baxter character because I've never been the type to try and climb the corporate ladder, but eventually I began to empathize with him more and I ended up enjoying the movie, especially the end. However, it's not really one of my favorite Wilder movies.

I did have one problem with the story though and it bothered me for at least the whole first half of the movie. They establish in the opening monologue that Baxter makes enough money that he could rent 2 apartments at once. It would certainly be expensive and a tax on his income, but since he is unable to stop allowing his superiors to use his apartment and he doesn't like waiting in the street it seems like an acceptable solution.
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#22
Quote:

Originally Posted by BobClark

I'm pretty sure it's the characters. I'm not relating with anyone. That's not a requirement for enjoying a movie, but I don't feel like I care enough about what happens to them.
Plus, oddly enough since I like all eras of film, I found myself distracted by the time period. I was actually thinking, "Oh, neat! A hat rack at the office. Look at that archaic channel changer!"
Still, I enjoyed it. But I'm hoping more will reveal itself on a second viewing.

I'll agree, it took me awhile to really 'click' with Bud and his plight. He's got a real subservient complex going on (most of his actions in the film are made FOR other people, not for himself) and that kind of makes him hard to relate to.

We like watching characters that are individualistic - so when a film's protagonist is totally self-effacing and meek I think it makes it more of a challenge to follow along with his plight.

He's really a tragic character - very Arthur Milleresque.
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#23
Quote:

Originally Posted by Kyle Corkum

I did have one problem with the story though and it bothered me for at least the whole first half of the movie. They establish in the opening monologue that Baxter makes enough money that he could rent 2 apartments at once. It would certainly be expensive and a tax on his income, but since he is unable to stop allowing his superiors to use his apartment and he doesn't like waiting in the street it seems like an acceptable solution.

Some guys prefer to martyr themselves.
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#24
Baxter is meek and passive for the vast majority of the film, so that's why his walk-out on Sheldrake is such a satisfying payoff. To be honest, it felt like a plot contrivance at first, but it sits pretty well with me now 16 hours later.

Wilder is a great writer, but (at least in this film) only slightly above average as a visualist (he does know how to shoot MacLaine though)...

That being said, this is the first film of his I've seen, so my opinion on his visual acumen may well change with whatever I see next.

What should I see next by him?
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#25
Sunset Boulevard
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#26
I finally got to watch The Apartment on Friday night. I don't have a lot to add to what has been said above, but I did enjoy it quite a bit, especially the dialogue and comedic aspects. MacLaine was very cute in this movie. I found myself focusing on the topic of office politics mostly. It's amazing to watch this with a modern eye. The company Baxter works for would go under today from all of the sexual harassment suits. There was some pretty wild stuff going on at that Christmas party as well.

It's boggles the mind to see how the rules for office conduct have changed so drastically in the last 45 years. If for nothing else, this movie is a good time capsule for the limits of sexual engagement in a company setting. MacLaine's character became fed up with the whole sticky mess about the same time that Lemmon's character did, so it is no big surprise that they found each other.
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#27
I really liked how dark this film was and how it was filmed almost totally inside.

I don't know if everyone picked up on it but there wasn't a single outside scene that was filmed during the day. All exterior shots were filmed at night and most of them were while it was raining.


I absolutely loved the Christmas bar scene where he's getting sloppy drunk while he waits to go home and he ends up picking up on the broad with the bad accent.


I never felt bad for these characters, even though most of them were getting played, they all made their choices to get a fancy job and all of them felt content for where they were and where they were going. It pretty much took a hard slap in the face for any of them to change. I'm talking about Baxter, Fran, and the secretary.
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#28
Quote:

Originally Posted by billylove

I absolutely loved the Christmas bar scene where he's getting sloppy drunk while he waits to go home and he ends up picking up on the broad with the bad accent.

I loved the way the holidays were portrayed in this film. Typically Christmas movies are so full of schmaltz it can be sickening - but Bud's Christmas is a very unpleasant, bleak, lonely time, and the constant revelry only serves to remind him of the magnitude of his own problems. Though a number of films present Christmas as a difficult time, usually by the end the protagonist shuts up and enjoys it - doesn't happen in THE APARTMENT. Bud actually rejects the horrible party, and instead goes with the much more enjoyable game of gin.
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#29
Interesting film, my first viewing.

I found myself being somewhat detached from all the characters. Though I found MacClaine lovely to look at and quirky in her character as compared to the other women in the film. What Baxter saw in Kubelik was in many parts an illusion. She was not what he that she was. In fact there is very little to separate her character from that of Sheldon. Oh certainly he had some power/influence over her, but she always had the knowledge that he was married, yet choose to have a relationship with him.

What makes his betrayal of her any more significant than her betrayal of herself, Baxter and Mr. Sheldon's wife? I think the answer to that is very little. They are both liars that are using people to their own ends. Where as Baxter may be a bit of a patsy and we can feel some empathy for him, he too has his moral problems. Why is acceptable to facilitate these liasons, which are essentially ways to protect those around you that are lying in order to move ahead in the corporate world. The whole thing can leave you feeling sick about selfish human behavior. Just because a cute woman is being used by a powerful older man does not excuse her own self-involved behavior.

To paraphrase a line from Closer - there is always a moment that you can choose....and you always remember when that moment was-.

I see this more as a commentary on self-motiviated, selfish behavior in modern life than a story about a good man that broke out from the system. We can hope that Baxter comes out of this a stronger person knowing what he wants from life and standing up for that. I don't know that we can hope for that from Kubelik. The only transformation I see for her character is giving up on one relationship may be her chance to start again, but I see her character not radically changed just moving from one relationship to another.

I like the ending...because I don't believe it is a happily ever after moment...rather a fleeting moment of clarity for 2 people.
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#30
I also got around to THE APARTMENT over the weekend. Probably not much to add, but I admire the way Wilder is able to balance comedy and drama. I also wonder if Wilder is making an oblique statement about being a collaborator. Wilder certainly makes it clear that Baxter is certainly complicit in what others have done, although he gives him a way out.

So, what's a better closing line "Shut up and deal." or "Nobody's perfect."? And I'm jealous of a writer/director who can come up with two such sublime closing lines.
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#31
I enjoyed this movie alot, it stuck in my mind and made me think about it for several days which is always a good sign.

I agree with some of the people who said it took a little while to get into the movie, but it fully drew me into its world a quarter of the way in.

Nobody has mentioned him yet but I really enjoyed the next-door neighbor doctor character. He was great comic relief in earlier scenes and really helped the dynamic during the suicide scenes.

One of my favorite scenes is where Baxter is feeling sick at his desk and starts calling around to all his superiors on the phone trying to rearrange their schedules so he can get a good night sleep. I don't think I have ever witnessed something like that in a movie before.
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