Directed By Billy Wilder
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray
This 1960 film was nominated for ten Oscars and managed to take home five. These awards were for Best Picture, Best Art Direction, Best Writing, Best Editing, and Best Director. Billy Wilder was at the head of this great movie, which was his fourth Best Director statue. His other wins came from classics like Some Like It Hot and The Lost Weekend. This film stars Jack Lemmon who had also been in Some Like It Hot. Lemmon had a long career with memorable performances in films like Grumpy Old Men, How to Murder Your Wife, and The China Syndrome. In addition to Lemmon, this film stars Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray. MacLaine is known for a wide range of movies including Terms of Endearment which won MacLaine her only Oscar. Fred MacMurray was the fatherly face of the hit television show My Three Sons. He was also a familiar face in Disney films like The Happiest Millionaire and The AbsentMinded Professor.
C.C. Baxter (Lemmon) is another paper pusher at a major insurance company in New York. To get ahead he’s allowed the higher-ups use his apartment to entertain the women in their lives. With each favor he’s closer to the promotion he desires. Each day he rides the elevator at work operated by the young Fran Kubelik (MacLaine). When he finally musters up the courage to ask her out he finds himself in the middle of the woman he’s falling for and the boss (MacMurray) who controls his future. As he juggles his obligations and desires he finds himself faced with tricky situations and tough decisions. Soon he’ll have to choose who he’s willing to share his apartment with.
This is a surprisingly dramatic film with a hint of comedy. After Some Like It Hot this was a huge change of pace for Billy Wilder. The movie focuses on the drama of the situation while avoiding becoming a romantic comedy. This is easily done when you have Shirley MacLaine working her magic with a powerful performance. Lemmon and MacMurray are also great in their roles.
This movie also has a wonderful soundtrack. The music really adds to the feel of every scene and is worked into the movie through unique ways. The movie is also a visually great film with wonderful sets and nice camera work. Wilder put all the aspects of great film making to work in this classic movie.
My only criticism of this movie is that some of the dialogue seems out of place. The movie often loses the dramatic feel and slips in lines that feel more like a comedy. This doesn’t hurt the film as a whole, but some scenes feel a bit misplaced.
Despite being controversial at the time, this film made over $25 million dollars. Some writers criticized the film for the themes of adultery and infidelity throughout the story. Still, the movie was popular with most fans and critics. In 1994 the film was even added to the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress. I would recommend this movie for fans of romantic comedies or romance-filled dramas. I give this movie 4.6 out of 5 stars.