This Is a Blog: Kris and Adam Discuss AFI’s Top 100: The Apartment

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Kris and Adam Discuss AFI’s Top 100: The Apartment

Kris Jenson, with whom I've had the best discussions of my life, is an old friend of mine from Boston. We had been talking about the American Film Institute's Top 100 when he got a job at Dig Boston, writing about just that. Instead of letting the conversation end just because he's a big, fancy writer now, I'm going to write responses to his articles. I can't keep up with his movie watching, so I'm only responding to the ones I've seen.

"The Apartment"

I really love this movie. As someone who has had my share of crazy ex-girlfriends and wonders if that means I used to just be a pushover, "The Apartment" is a ray of hope. At first, Jack Lemmon seems to be a weak character who just puts up with this woman's nonsense, but in the end, even once he has come into himself, he realizes he truly loves her. That realization paints him not as a victim of this whole thing but rather a guy who along had the strength to treat this woman with respect while everyone else around them treated her like a fuck puppet.

Speaking of jerks who treat poor Ms. MacLaine as a vacation spot, Fred MacMurray is the fucking man. I don't mean the character; his character needs to get hit with a truck full of penis-melting acid. MacMurray turns in some of the most blood-curdlingly evil performances in film history, yet no one ever talks about him. Director Billy Wilder loves using him to his jerkiest extremes. Between this and "Double Indemnity," where he uses the word "baby" more than the cast of "Dirty Dancing," MacMurray shows that behind that innocently winning smile is an actor who truly embody an all-out asshole with cringe inducing results. Unfortunately, he will go down to most as the dad from "My Three Sons." Chip Douglas would shit himself if he ever found out what good, old dad did to poor Miss Kubelik.

Without a doubt, Billy Wilder changed the course of American cinema. From bringing film noir to the mainstream to pushing the limits of what could be discussed in film, Wilder helped usher in the changes in '60s cinema that grew into the film revolution in the '70s. It's unfortunate he wasn't allowed to keep the original ending. Without giving anything away, the end was supposed to be much, much darker. As is, it ends on a Hollywood cheat. I would have loved to see how Jack Lemmon could have played the denouement as it was intended. Even with the not-so-satisfying ending, this movie is still seems more socially relevant than its 2000 remake, "Loser" (with Jason Biggs and Mena Suvari).

I could keep on gushing, but I'll just wrap it up with a fun fact I discovered. After I made the above "Dirty Dancing" reference, I took another look at "The Apartment's" imdb page. Fred MacMurray's character in "The Apartment" is Mr. Sheldrake. In "Dirty Dancing," the other hotel that becomes a lynch pin of the whole plot is called the Sheldrake Hotel. Was that an interesting fact? No. But was that more interesting to read than me repeating Kris' love of Jack Lemmon? Yes.

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