The Apartment (1960)

February 4th, 2023
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir/Wri: Billy Wilder | Cast: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston | US Drama 125’

As he handed Billy Wilder the Academy Award for Best Picture (the last to go to a black & white movie until ‘Schindler’s List’) Moss Hart wryly remarked to him “Better quit now, Billy. It’s not going to get any better than this!”.

Appropriately paired on BBC2 this afternoon (although in the wrong order) with Brief Encounter which contained the scene with Valentine Dyall that inspired it; when I first saw The Apartment half a century ago at the age of 13 even then I found it as melancholy as it was funny.

It was a sign of the times that Best Picture went to such a gown-up film; and ironically Hope Holiday (now 91), who played Margie MacDougall, has just revealed that soon after making this was sexually harassed by Jerry Lewis. The line “that’s the way it crumbles, cookie-wise” has become one of the most memorable lines in comedy cinema history. @RichardChatten


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