Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Apartment

Without a doubt. The Apartment isn't just my favorite movie we watched in class, it's one of my absolute favorite films ever made, hands down. It's the definitive statement on the nice guy winning over the girl who usually goes for all the jerks, and C.C. Baxter is the ultimate nice guy. I watched it again for the first time in years recently, and once again I was just absorbed. Certainly it's because I've been in Baxter's place before (not so much with the letting the guys use my house for various trysts, but the nice guy stuff), and I'm a romantic at heart, as unpopular or unrealistic as that may be.

What makes the film for me are the weird little things, like how Baxter relentlessly finds ways to distract Miss Kubelik from her troubles with a game of cards or dinner, and somehow makes it a selfless act. Or how the doctor gives Baxter advice on an area of his life that is only an illusion, but ends up being the key to his growth as a person. In screenwriting class, we learned that a character in every film has to grow, and so on and so forth. While I don't agree with that statement (there are lots of great films made over the years in which the character doesn't grow at all), I've never seen it done as effortlessly as in The Apartment.

And Miss Kubelik...Roger Ebert and Kim Morgan have written two of the finest dissertations of her character.

Roger first...

What is particularly good about [Shirley MacLaine's] Miss Kubelik is the way she doesn't make her a ditzy dame who falls for a smooth talker, but suggests a young woman who has been lied to before, who has a good heart but finite patience, who is prepared to make the necessary compromises to be the next Mrs. Sheldrake.

Then Kim Morgan...

What's intriguing about this depiction is how darkly but ultimately non-judgmentally Fran's character is drawn. She makes some bad choices (as do many ladies working for him), but clearly it's tough for the lower-rung working girl, especially if she actually finds herself in love.

Ultimately, MacLaine's performance often comes off a tad flat, but she is supposed to play defeated quite a bit, and there is a noticeable light in her eyes around Baxter that we never see around Sheldrake, the married man she runs around with - just a quiet resignation that she's stuck in love with him. Brilliant undertones for a film to have.

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