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flick pick | The Apartment 1960
Directed by: Billy Wilder
Written by: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: drama, comedy, classic
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something: darkly comic, lovey
The critic says: ½/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5 

Plot synopsis Lowly insurance clerk C.C. Baxter lives the typical lonely bachelor life in his New York City apartment -- except for one little thing. One evening some time back, Baxter lent out his apartment to one of his superiors at the agency. Baxter's conveniently located city abode, apparently, provided the perfect spot for the executive to bring his latest extramarital fling. Soon, word spread, which is how Baxter has come to find himself juggling a handful of execs eager to make use of the apartment for their romantic rendezvous needs. Baxter's evening routine of a frozen dinner enjoyed solo in front of the TV is all-too frequently cut short when he receives yet another phone call asking him to clear out of his own home for a few hours. Still, Baxter assures himself that the sacrifices are worth it, as every one of the execs has promised to put in a good word for him at the company. Eager to climb the corporate ladder, Baxter grudgingly indulges the executives' whims for the sake of his career, despite the fact that it often leaves him wandering around in the wintery cold city late at night. When company boss Mr. Sheldrake asks for use of the apartment, Baxter has no choice but to oblige. Still, things look like they're paying off when Baxter finally attains that coveted executive position, complete with his very own office. Brimming with newfound confidence, he begins to pursue his longtime crush, pretty elevator operator Fran Kubelik. But when it turns out that Sheldrake's mistress and Baxter's new love are one and the same girl, Baxter finds himself re-evaluating the decisions he's made.

Review Featuring snappy dialogue and a briskly moving storyline, Billy Wilder's Oscar-winning gem is funny, witty and charmingly lovey -- but it's not a romantic comedy at heart. There's a definite dark undercurrent to the sweet love story between Lemmon's C.C. Baxter and Shirley MacLaine's Fran Kubelik that makes the movie more drama than comedy. In fact, the scene that makes me giggle the most occurs after one of the movie's main characters has just attempted suicide. It's both sad and hilarious -- in the real-world way that human beings are, not in some calculated jokey manner. Set primarily in the period just before Christmas and ending on New Year's Eve, The Apartment perfectly captures the side of the holiday season that most Christmas classics like to ignore -- namely, the loneliness that comes when you realize you don't have a special someone with whom to celebrate, and the dissatisfaction that arrives when you discover that another year has passed, and you're still not any closer to being the person you always thought you'd be. Baxter's really kind of a dork, Kubelik can't seem to break the cycle of making bad choices in men -- these characters have kind of sucky lives, and to some extent, it's their own fault. Still, as played by Lemmon and MacLaine, Baxter and Kubelik are impossible to dislike. (MacLaine's Kubelik is particularly adorable; when she looks up from beneath her perfect pixie haircut and through wide, spiky-lashed eyes, it's no wonder that every executive at the company has been trying to lure her into a tryst.) In the end, even the most cynical among us can't begrudge Baxter and Kubelik their happy conclusion. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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