Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Apartment

The Apartment (1960) ...Dir. Billy Wilder

Four or five Decembers ago, I saw The Apartment for the very first time. I was home for the holidays and had stayed up late watching TV with my dad (we’re both notorious night owls). The Apartment was scheduled to play on some old-movie channel (AMC, TCM... you know the sort) and when I told him that I’d never heard of it, he knew immediately that our search for that evening’s entertainment was over.

I spent the next 2+ hours watching (and listening) in slack-jawed amazement. The Apartment is easily one of the best-written films I have ever seen. The dialogue is awesomely clever without ever sounding unbelievable--every line sounds like something a person might actually say, a distinction which relatively few movies can honestly claim. And good gravy, that cast! Fred MacMurray is cast against type to incredible effect, Shirley MacLaine is more adorable than any human being should be allowed to be, and Jack Lemmon is simply perfect--one of the greatest actors of all time in one of his greatest roles of all time.

There are a lot of easy picks when looking for movies to watch at the end of the year. Classic options like It’s a Wonderful Life and whichever iteration of A Christmas Carol floats your boat are understandably irresistible. But films as smart and as funny and as graceful as The Apartment only come around so often. Be a mensch! Watch the movie!