9. The Apartment (1960)
Other Nominated Films:
The Alamo, Elmer Gantry, Suns and Lovers, The Sundowners
Billy Wilder’s follow-up to Some Like It Hot, The Apartment, is a witty, sardonic, and touching film about corporate politics, adultery, integrity and love. Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, a lowly office clerk who works for a New York City insurance company. When Baxter starts lending out his apartment to his philandering bosses for their romantic trysts, things start getting complicated — especially when Baxter’s big boss, Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), takes notice and wants to start using the apartment himself. Meanwhile Baxter finds himself climbing nicely up the corporate ladder, and also takes a liking to sweet elevator operator Miss Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). When Baxter finds out that Fran is Sheldrake’s girlfriend — it makes for sticky situations, romantic problems and more serious trouble (that shall remain nameless) — and ultimately Baxter must decide between his integrity and his career. The on-screen chemistry between Lemmon and MacLaine is great to watch as they’re both extremely quick with their deliveries and are just terrific when they’re together. MacMurray is pitch-perfect, playing against type, as the cheating, low-life Sheldrake. Jack Kruschen, who plays Dr. Dreyfuss, is the doctor-neighbor who mistakenly thinks Baxter is a ladies’ man and advises Baxter to “Be a mensch!” (human being). Ray Walston and David Lewis are amusing as slightly sordid office wolves. Kruschen was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, while Lemmon and MacLaine were nominated for Best Actor and Actress respectively. The Apartment would end up being a critical and a financial success, grossing $25 million at the box office. Wilder would go on to win Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay (co-written with longtime collaborator I.A.L. Diamond), joining an elite ‘club’ that consists of only four others (Francis Ford Coppola for The Godfather Part II, James L. Brooks for Terms of Endearment, Peter Jackson for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, and Joel and Ethan Coen for No Country for Old Men.) The Apartment would also end up being the last completely black-and-white film to win Best Picture (which actually could change this year…wow.) I would also like to say one more thing before I close: Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho was nominated for four Oscars this year, winning none. If Psycho would have won for Best Picture (which it was not nominated for), then Psycho would have been the #2 film on my countdown.
Nominated for 10 Oscars, Winner of 5
Best Art Direction – Set Decoration, Black-and-White – Alexandre Trauner, Edward G. Boyle (WON)
Best Director – Billy Wilder (WON)
Best Film Editing – Daniel Mandell (WON)
Best Picture – Billy Wilder (WON)
Best Writing, Story and Screenplay – Written Directly for the Screen – Billy Wilder, I.A.L Diamond (WON)
Best Actor in a Leading Role – Jack Lemmon
Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Jack Kruschen
Best Actress in a Leading Role – Shirley MacLaine
Best Cinematography, Black-and-White – Joseph LaShelle
C.C. Baxter: Ya know, I used to live like Robinson Crusoe; I mean, shipwrecked among 8 million people. And then one day I saw a footprint in the sand, and there you were.