Saturday, December 29, 2012


It's one of my favorite Shirley MacLaine movie moments.  Fran Kubelik's spirit is reborn as New Year's Eve comes to a close in Billy Wilder's The Apartment.  A movie with marital infidelity, a suicide attempt, corporate ambition and cut-throat office politics -- yet, it's a wonderful holiday love story.  You know this classic.  Jack Lemmon stars as the ambitious young man working for a major company in Manhattan.  MacLaine stars as the lovable but unlucky-in-love elevator operator in the same building.
Fran likes C.C. Baxter (Lemmon).  He's a gentleman.  He treats her like a lady.  Mr. Baxter is just about the only guy who removes his hat when he enters her elevator.  Billy Wilder's story will take us from shortly before Christmas Eve into the first hour of New Year's Day.  Fran and C.C. "Bud" Baxter have a corporate connection -- Mr. Sheldrake (well-played by Fred MacMurray).  He's the big boss at Consolidated Life of New York insurance company.  He's Mr. Baxter's boss.  He's Miss Kubelik's lover.  Fran blindly fell in love with a married man.  She's more in love with him than he is with her.  She wants to end the affair.  He didn't get to be head of the firm by not being manipulative and ruthless.   Jeff Sheldrake knows how to play her heartstrings during their clandestine meetings.  Funny.  The elevator operator, seen as a minor building employee by the white collar office executives, calls him "Jeff."  But those company men call him "Mr. Sheldrake."
Fran realizes she's being used and this relationship leads to a dead end.  "I was jinxed from the word go.  The first time I was ever kissed was in a cemetery," she reveals to C.C. Baxter.  This revelation comes after tragedy is averted making Mr. Baxter and Miss Kubelik unexpected Christmas roommates in his apartment.
If you've seen this classic, written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond, I don't have to fill in the details.  If you haven't seen it, I'll let you experience the details for yourself.  Add this Best Picture of 1960 Academy Award winner to your "must-see" list.  The doctor next door tells Baxter, who climbs the corporate ladder by providing a place for Consolidated execs to have their extra-marital horizontal flings, to "Be a mensch!"  He'll be one while taking care of Fran more than she's taken care of herself.  He falls for the boss' girlfriend.  Near the end, they both seem to be hypnotized again by that corporate vampire, Mr. Sheldrake.  He's given C.C. Baxter a juicy promotion at Consolidated Life.  He's separated from his wife and calls on Fran again for some nightlife.  They're at a club for a New Year's Eve celebration when it becomes evident that Jeff is giving her the same old jive.  "Ring out the old year.  Ring in the new.  Ring a ding ding," Fran forlornly says when hearing his plans to get them a hotel room out of town in Atlantic City.
The middle-aged horn-dog mentions that C.C. Baxter quit his cushy job and walked out on him.  He then mentions something that lets Fran know Baxter loves her.  Fran has been sitting there like a miserable queen of nothing with a party hat on her head.  When she discovers that C.C. Baxter is in love with her, we can see and feel the light come back on again in Fran Kubelik's soul.  She smiles.  An inner radiance shines through at the stroke of midnight, the start of a new year...and a new beginning for her.
She feels majestic.  Special.  She'll leave that paper crown on the chair as if she's abdicated her role in Mr. Sheldrake's life as Queen of Nothing.  Baxter has redeemed himself.  Fran's spirit has been resurrected.  This would definitely be in a list of my Top 5 Favorite New Year's Eve scenes in movies.  Shirley MacLaine's smile gets me every time.  In the first minutes of the new year,  Fran Kubelik will run to end the loneliness in the life of C.C. Baxter.  True love for her was truly in the cards after all.

"Shut up and deal."  Happy New Year.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh, Shirley is so adorable and cute in this movie. Same thing here with me as well - her smile in the movie gets me every time. It is such a warm smile.

    I recently saw the film on the big screen for the first time at a movie palace where I live. The theater plays classics once a month on Sunday mornings, and THE APARTMENT was one of them. I was delighted after the screening that people were applauding and walking out of the theater saying how much they had forgotten what a delight this movie was and how it was good to see it on the big screen.

    By the way, Bobby, Happy New Year to you as well and I hope that 2013 will bring you happiness and your dreams being fulfilled.


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