125 minutes, U.S.A., 1960, Black and White, D-Cinema

Billy Wilder’s restored and re-released classic of 1960 is about a junior clerk (Jack Lemmon) who innocently lends his Manhattan apartment to a friend for an evening and then finds his superiors promising promotion if they can use it for extra-marital hijinks. Office opportunism takes a sinister turn when he finds this dubious route to the top is linked with abetting his boss’ affair with an elevator operator (Shirley MacLaine) whom he secretly adores.

This is the most daring film from Hollywood’s finest satirist, a study of urban loneliness and corporate concupiscence that walks a tightrope between comedy and tragedy. The precision of its narrative structure and widescreen composition is a thing of wonder, and the performances of Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine and Fred MacMurray are pitch-perfect. Trenchant yet tender, poignant yet popular, and winner of five Oscars to boot (including best picture, director and screenplay), The Apartment was the highpoint of Wilder’s wonderful career. Time has only confirmed its greatness. (Notes by Neil Sinyard.)

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