is a 1960 American comedy
produced and directed by Billy Wilder
, and starring Jack Lemmon
, Shirley MacLaine
, and Fred MacMurray
. It was Wilder's follow up to the enormously popular Some Like It Hot
and was an equal commercial and critical hit, grossing $25 million at the box office, and winning the Academy Award for Best Picture
It was later adapted by Neil Simon, Burt Bacharach and Hal David into the Broadway musical Promises, Promises.
C. C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon
) is a lonely office drone for an insurance company in New York City
. Four different company managers take turns commandeering his apartment, which is located on West 67th Street on the Upper West Side
, for their various extramarital liaisons. Unhappy with the situation, but unwilling to challenge them directly, he juggles their conflicting demands while hoping to catch the eye of fetching elevator operator Miss Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine
). Meanwhile the neighbors, a medical doctor and his wife, assume Baxter is a "good time Charlie" who gets a different woman drunk every night. Baxter accepts their criticism rather than reveal the truth.
The four managers write glowing reports about Baxter. The reports are a little too glowing. Personnel director Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) suspects something illicit behind the praise. Mr. Sheldrake lets Baxter's promotion go unchallenged on condition that Baxter's apartment accept a fifth regular customer. Still delighted about the promotion, Baxter asks Miss Kubelik to a Broadway show. She agrees, then stands him up. On Christmas Eve, Baxter is astounded to come home and find her in his bed, fully clothed, and overdosed on sleeping pills. Mr. Sheldrake had borrowed the apartment for the evening.
Baxter and his neighbor the doctor keep her alive and safe without notifying the authorities. She explains that she had an affair with Mr. Sheldrake the previous summer, ended it when his wife returned from vacation, and caved in to his appeals and promises later in the fall. When Sheldrake offered her money instead of a Christmas present she realized the ugliness of the situation and tried to commit suicide. The act shows a startling side of her usually sunny personality. Baxter tries to comfort her with assurances of Sheldrake's concern even though Sheldrake refuses to speak to her on the telephone.
Kubelik recuperates in Baxter's apartment for two days, long enough for her taxi driver brother-in-law to assume the worst of Baxter and come to blows. Sheldrake's catty secretary, one of his former mistresses, "educates" Mrs. Sheldrake. Faced with divorce, Sheldrake moves into a room at his athletic club and continues to string Kubelik along while he enjoys his newfound bachelorhood. Baxter finally takes a stand when Sheldrake demands the apartment for New Year's Eve, which results in Baxter quitting the firm. Kubelik realizes that Baxter is the man who truly loves her and leaves Sheldrake on New Year's Eve to be with him that evening and runs to him. They end as two misfits, both out of a job, playing a game of gin rummy. When Baxter declares his love for Kubelik, her reply is the now-famous final line of the movie: "Shut up and deal."
- When Baxter first goes to his apartment, he tries to watch the 1932 film Grand Hotel, but too many commercials frustrates him and he turns the television off (making this the first Best Picture movie to mention another Best Picture movie).
- To create the impression of a very large bureau in the scenes where Baxter is behind his desk, director Billy Wilder used child actors dressed in business attire and specially designed furniture. This is in contrast to a popular rumor that dwarf actors were used.
- The nasal spray used by Jack Lemmon was actually milk. Real nasal spray would not have shown up on camera.
- Billy Wilder also used the character name Sheldrake in Sunset Boulevard (1950), Ace in the Hole (1951), and Kiss Me, Stupid (1964).
- Billy Wilder originally thought of the idea for the film after seeing Brief Encounter (1945) and wondering about the plight of a character seen only for a brief time in that film. Shirley MacLaine was only given forty pages of the script because Wilder didn't want her to know how the story would turn out. She thought it was because the script wasn't finished.
- Paul Douglas was cast as Sheldrake but died before filming began.
- Billy Wilder claimed that he and I.A.L. Diamond already had Jack Lemmon in mind to play Baxter when they wrote the screenplay. In an interview years later, Lemmon confirmed this.
- Shirley MacLaine filmed her famous cameo in Ocean's Eleven (1960) during a break in filming this movie.
- This was the last B&W movie to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards until Schindler's List (1993).
- This was also the film that Marilyn Monroe wanted to be in. She had previously starred with Lemmon in Some Like It Hot. But when she did not get the part, there is a line in the film that was dedicated to Monroe. When a character needs to use C.C Baxter's (Jack Lemmon) apartment to be with his pretty blonde girlfriend, Baxter begins to leave his apartment in an angry, sarcastic way: "No trouble at all, Mr Dobisch! Be my guest. Never closed at Buddy Boy's. Looks like Marilyn Monroe!"
- The film was later remade in India as the Hindi film Raaste Kaa Patthar (1972) starring Amitabh Bachchan The storyline of The Apartment was also used as part of the 2007 Hindi film Life in a Metro, where actor Sharman Joshi's character's life mirrors that of C.C. Baxter's.
- In the anime series .Hack//Sign during an event a Statue asks who the director of the film was
- The Long Blondes reference the film in their song "You Could Have Both", saying "I feel like C.C. Baxter in Wilder's Apartment - that particular arrangement just came out of the blue"
Although Jack Lemmon did not win, at the 2000 Awards, Kevin Spacey dedicated his Oscar for American Beauty to Lemmon's performance. According to the behind-the-scenes feature on the American Beauty DVD, the film's director, Sam Mendes, had watched The Apartment (among other classic American movies) as inspiration in preparation for shooting his film.
also won the BAFTA Award for Best Film from any Source
and Lemmon and MacLaine both won a BAFTA
and a Golden Globe
each for their performances. The film appears at #93 on the influential American Film Institute
list of Top 100 Films
, as well as at #20 on their list of
and at #62 on their 100 Passions
list. In 2007, the film rose on the AFI's Top 100
list to #80. In 1994, The Apartment
was deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" by the United States Library of Congress
and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry
. Currently the film is ranked 67th on They Shoot Pictures Don't They
's poll of the '1000 Greatest Films of All-Time', as voted by 1,604 critics, filmmakers, reviewers, scholars and other likely film types. In 2002, a poll of film directors done by Sight and Sound
magazine listed it as the 14th greatest film of all time (tied with La Dolce Vita
). In 2006, Premiere
voted this film as one of "The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time".