The Story (continued)
The Apartment (1960)
Later, Fran asks Bud to open up the envelope - that contains nothing but a one hundred dollar bill. She requests that it be returned to her exploitative, conniving lover: "Will you see that Mr. Sheldrake gets it?" For "togetherness," Bud suggests that they play a competitive game of gin rummy, but she is possessed by sorrow over her recent emotional exploitation:
Fran: I think I'm going to give it all up.
Bud: Give what up?
Fran: Why do people have to love people, anyway?
Bud: Yeah, I know what you mean. (He deals and then flips over a card) Queen.
Fran: I don't want it.
Bud: Pick a card.
Fran: What do you call it when somebody keeps getting smashed up in automobile accidents?
Bud: A bad insurance risk?
Fran: That's me with men. I was jinxed from the word go - the first time I was ever kissed was in a cemetery.
Bud: A cemetery?
Fran: I was fifteen. We used to go there to smoke. His name was George. And he threw me over for a drum majorette.
Bud: Gin. (He spreads out his winning hand and then adds up the points) Thirty-six and twenty-five. That's sixty-one and two boxes. (He writes the score on a pad)
Fran: I just have this talent for falling in love with the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Bud: (shuffling the deck) How many guys were there?
Fran: (holding up four fingers, a gesture he made earlier) Three. The last one was the manager of a finance company, back home in Pittsburgh. They found a little shortage in his accounts, but he asked me to wait for him. He'll be out in 1965.
Bud: (placing the deck in front of her) Cut. (He begins dealing another hand)
Fran: So I came to New York and moved in with my sister and her husband. He drives a cab. And they sent me to secretarial school, and then I applied for a job at Consolidated, but I flunked the typing test.
Bud: Too slow?
Fran: No, I can type up a storm. I just can't spell. So they gave me a pair of white gloves and stuck me in an elevator. And that's how I met Jeff. (Her eyes mist up and she puts her cards down) Oh God, I'm so fouled up. What am I gonna do now?
Bud: You better win a hand. You're on a blitz.
Fran: Was he very upset when you told him?
Bud: Mr. Sheldrake? Yeah. Very.
Fran: Maybe he does love me - only he doesn't have the nerve to tell his wife.
Bud: I'm sure that's the explanation.
Fran: You really think so?
Bud: No doubt about it.
Fran: Would you hand me that pad and pencil? (She sets down her cards, and he obligingly passes her the pad and pencil)
Bud: What for?
Fran: I'm going to write a letter to Mrs. Sheldrake.
Bud: You what?
Fran: As one woman to another, I'm sure she'll understand.
Bud: (He grabs back the pad and pencil) I don't think that's a very good idea, Miss Kubelik.
Fran: Why not?
Bud: Well, for one thing, you can't spell. And secondly, if you did something like that, you'd hate yourself.
Fran: I don't like myself very much anyway.
Bud: Pick up your cards and let's go.
Fran: Do I have to?
Bud: You bet. I got a terrific hand. (She picks up a card and then discards) You really want to discard that?
Bud: Gin. (He shows his cards and again adds up the points) Fifty-two and twenty-five. That's seventy-seven. Spades is double. A hundred and fifty-four and four boxes. Blitzed in two games.
She falls asleep as he starts to shuffle again - he notices her drowsiness, rises, and pulls the blanket up over her. When Kirkeby and Sylvia arrive for their four o'clock reservation with a bucket of iced champagne, Bud dismisses them, but not before Kirkeby notices Fran's dress hanging on the bedroom door - he slyly comments: "You have yourself a little playmate, huh?...Well, I don't blame you. So you hit the jackpot, hey kid. I mean, Kubelik-wise."
Still morose about her predicament, Fran dreamily asks Bud:
Fran: Why can't I ever fall in love with somebody nice like you?
Bud: Yeah, well, that's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise.
The day after Christmas, Sheldrake fires Miss Olsen with a month's severance pay, "for giving that little pep talk to Miss Kubelik at the office party" about his philandering. She has suffered through four years of a parade of her successors: "You let me go four years ago, Jeff. Only you were cruel enough to make me sit out there and watch the new models pass by." Sheldrake phones Bud and unconvincingly asks how he could assist - concerned about a possible scandal: "Put yourself in my place, Baxter. How can I help her? My hands are tied." Weak and emotionally fragile, Fran reluctantly agrees to speak to Sheldrake on the phone:
Sheldrake: Why did you do it, Fran? It's so childish and it never solves anything. I ought to be very angry with you, scaring me that way. But let's forget the whole thing, pretend it never happened. What do you say, Fran? (no answer) Fran? Are you there, Fran?
Fran: Of course, I'm not here. Because the whole thing never happened. I never took those pills. I never loved you. We never even met. Isn't that the way you want it, Jeff?
Sheldrake: There you go again. You know I didn't mean it that way, Fran. Now you just get well. Do what the nurse tells you, I mean Baxter, and I'll see you as soon as I can. Goodbye, Fran.
To spite her ex-boss, Miss Olsen (who eavesdropped on their phone conversation) telephones Mrs. Sheldrake for a luncheon date to divulge "educational" secrets about her unfaithful husband.
Bud has purchased grocery ingredients for an Italian spaghetti dinner - he keeps a tennis racquet in the kitchen "to strain the spaghetti." He brags: "I'm a pretty good cook, but I'm a lousy housekeeper," which Fran has already discovered - there are numerous items discarded and strewn on the couch: "Six hairpins, a lipstick, a pair of false eyelashes, and a swizzle stick from the Stork Club." They both commiserate about how Mr. Sheldrake is a "taker...Some people take, some people get took, and they know they're getting took, and there's nothing they can do about it." Bud swaps his own hard-luck story about when he tried to kill himself with a gun after a hopeless romance in Cincinnati - and accidentally shot himself in the knee: "It was a year before I could bend the knee, but I got over the girl in three weeks."
When preparing dinner for the two of them, he sings operatically as he dexterously strains the spaghetti over the strings of his tennis racket - one of the film's most memorable images. The candles are lit on the table and he has bought napkins: "It's a must - gracious-living-wise." Lonely until now, he values her companionship for dinner:
Bud: Me, I used to live like Robinson Crusoe, I mean shipwrecked among eight million people. Then, one day I saw a footprint in the sand, and there you were. It's a wonderful thing, dinner for two.
Fran: You usually eat alone?
Bud: Oh no. Sometimes I have dinner with Ed Sullivan, sometimes Dinah Shore or Perry Como. The other night, I had dinner with Mae West. Of course, she was much younger then.
Karl Matuschka (Johnny Seven), Fran's hot-tempered brother-in-law who has been searching for her since she disappeared, arrives at the apartment to take Fran home. Due to a misunderstanding and Bud's chivalrous defense to cover up Fran's suicide, Matuschka punches Bud once in the jaw and once in the eye. As Fran is taken away, she tenderly kisses her wounded office-mate on the forehead: "Oh you fool, you damn fool." Bud is on Cloud Nine: "It doesn't hurt a bit."
The next day at the office, Bud struts toward his office from the elevators, wearing his bowler, a dark coat, and a pair of dark sunglasses to hide his swollen, blackened left eye. He rehearses a speech he later plans to deliver to Sheldrake in his office:
I've got good news for you. All your troubles are over. I'm gonna take Miss Kubelik off your hands. The plain fact is, I-I love her. I haven't told her yet, I thought you should be the first to know. After all, you don't really want her, and I do, and although it may sound presumptuous, she needs somebody like me. So I think it would be the best thing all around - solution-wise.
In Sheldrake's presence, where suitcases are packed in the corner of his office, Sheldrake turns the tables on Bud - he begins to echo the speech that Bud had been practicing:
I've got good news for you, Baxter. All your troubles are over...I know how worried you were about Miss Kubelik. Well, stop worrying. I'm going to take her off your hands.
Caught in adultery and thrown out after Miss Olsen spoke to his wife, he was forced out of his house and must stay in town at the male-only Athletic Club. To reward Bud, Sheldrake leads him into an adjoining paneled office with three windows and announces that Bud has been promoted to his Assistant Personnel Director on the 27th floor - with the key to the executive wash room. Sheldrake will spend six weeks in Reno during the divorce proceedings and "enjoy being a bachelor for a while."
In the lobby with Fran as they part, Bud pretends to have a "heavy date" with a brown-haired woman standing in front of the newsstand. Fran explains why she isn't meeting Sheldrake because they "decided it would be better if we didn't see each other until after everything is settled, divorce-wise." After she leaves, Bud walks past the brunette which was supposed to be his date. He buys paperbacks from a merchandise rack instead for the evening.
In the end however, on New Year's Eve, Bud decides to extricate himself and walks away from his corporate job, refusing to continue servicing Sheldrake's corrupt requests for his apartment for a tryst with Fran:
Bud: You're not gonna bring anybody to my apartment.
Sheldrake: I'm not just bringing anybody. I'm bringing Miss Kubelik.
Bud: Especially not Miss Kubelik.
Sheldrake: How's that again?
Bud: No key.
Sheldrake: Baxter, I picked you for my team because I thought you were a very bright young man. You realize what you're doing? Not to me, but to yourself. Normally, it takes years to work your way up to the 27th floor, but it only takes 30 seconds to be out on the street again. You dig?
Bud: I dig.
Sheldrake: So what's it going to be? (Bud reaches into his pocket for a key and drops it on the desk) Now you're being bright.
Bud: Thank you, sir. (He goes to his own office)
Sheldrake: (entering Bud's adjoining office) Say, Baxter, you gave me the wrong key.
Bud: No, I didn't.
Sheldrake: But this is the key to the executive washroom.
Bud: That's right, Mr. Sheldrake. I won't be needing it, because I'm all washed up around here.
Sheldrake: What's gotten into you, Baxter?
Bud: Just following doctor's orders. I've decided to become a mensch. You know what that means? A human being.
Sheldrake: Now hold on, Baxter.
Bud: Save it. The old payola won't work anymore. Goodbye, Mr. Sheldrake.
That evening, Bud begins packing up the contents of his apartment into cardboard boxes, commiserating with Dr. Dreyfuss about his move and the loss of his girl: "Easy come, easy go." He wistfully removes a limp strand of spaghetti from his tennis racket. In the Chinese restaurant during New Year's Eve celebrations, because "it's all Baxter's fault" for refusing to give up his key to his apartment ("Just walked out on me, quit, threw that big fat job right in my face...that little punk, after all I did for him. Said I couldn't bring anybody to the apartment, especially not Miss Kubelik"), Sheldrake must rent a car to drive to Atlantic City for a hotel room with Fran. No longer duped, Fran finally becomes wise - she realizes that Bud really loves her and has sacrificed his career for her. His act of conscience restores her own feelings of self-respect:
Sheldrake: What's he got against you, anyway?
Fran: I don't know. I guess that's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise.
Sheldrake: What are you talking about?
Fran: I'd spell it out for you, only I can't spell.
As couples embrace and sing Auld Lang Syne as the New Year arrives, Fran slips away, abandoning her paper party hat on her vacated chair. She exultantly runs down the street toward Bud's apartment, finding him dumbfounded at his door with an overflowing, foaming bottle of champagne in his hand (but worrying that he might have shot himself when she heard the pop of the cork at the top of the stairs). Both of them will be going to "another neighborhood, another town, another job." Now together, they will send the customary gift to an ex-lover - a fruitcake:
Bud: What about Mr. Sheldrake?
Fran: We'll send him a fruitcake every Christmas.
While they sit on the couch, cutting cards and playing another friendly game of gin rummy, he professes his love for Fran for the first time, though she remains romantically reticent:
Fran: (after shuffling the cards) Cut.
Bud: I love you, Miss Kubelik.
Fran: (She looks at her card) Three. (She looks at Bud's card) Queen.
Bud: Did you hear what I said, Miss Kubelik? I absolutely adore you.
Fran: (abruptly as she smiles and hands him the cards) Shut up and deal!
He begins to deal without ever taking his eyes off of her.