Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

The Apartment (1960)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

The Apartment (1960)

In Billy Wilder's Best Picture-winning film - a a classic, caustically-witty, satirically cynical, melodramatic comedy about unethical, greedy, and corrupt corporate America politics in the year 1959 - and a bitter-sweet romance:

  • the opening voice-over narration ended with the shot of the interior of the Manhattan insurance company office filled with chattering employees -- and the dissolve showed lowly subordinate worker C. C. "Bud" Baxter (Jack Lemmon), one of "31,259 drones" staying on late by himself at his desk on the 19th floor at the impersonal Consolidated Life of New York insurance company (a shot paying homage to King Vidor's silent film classic The Crowd (1928)), and waiting until his own apartment was vacated - after being used by his married higher-up executives for their trysts and affairs: ("You see, I have this little problem with my apartment...I live in the West Sixties, just half a block from Central Park. My rent is $85 a month. It used to be eighty until last July when Mrs. Lieberman (Frances Lax), the landlady, put in a second-hand air conditioning unit. It's a real nice apartment - nothing fancy - but kind of cozy - just right for a bachelor. The only problem is - I can't always get in when I want to")
  • those who used Bud's Upper West Side apartment for after-hours romantic trysts-affairs included his four philandering managers and his fast-talking, authoritative married executive Jeff D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray); Sheldrake was womanizing with Fran behind Baxter's back
  • Bud surprised his concerned neighbor Dr. Dreyfuss (Jack Kruschen), when he was seen carrying out a large wastebasket of used liquor bottles; Bud was admonished and mistaken for a 20th century Don Juan lothario, partier and frequent alcohol imbiber: "The way you're beltin' that stuff, you must have a pair of cast-iron kidneys....As a matter of fact, you must be an iron man all around. From what I hear through the walls, you got somethin' goin' for ya every night...Sometimes, there's a twi-night double-header. (He clucked his tongue) A nebbish like you!...You know, Baxter, I'm doing some research at the Columbia Medical Center and I wonder if you could do us a favor?...When you make out your will, and the way you're going, you should, would you mind leaving your body to the University?... (Shaking his finger) Slow down, kid"
  • "Bud" developed a growing relationship with the company's pixie-faced, charming, elfin elevator operator Miss Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine); one day in the elevator, when he complained about his cold (from sleeping on a Central Park bench overnight), she commiserated with him: "You should have stayed in bed this morning" - he quipped back: "I should have stayed in bed last night"
  • in a devastating sequence, Bud discovered Miss Kubelik unconscious and overdosed on sleeping pills in his apartment on Christmas Eve - after the irredeemable Sheldrake had told her that he couldn't commit to her: "Look, I know you think I've been stalling you, but-well, when you've been married to a woman for twelve years, you just don't sit down at the breakfast table and say, 'Pass the sugar, I want a divorce.' It's not that easy. Anyway, this is the wrong time. The kids are home from school. My in-laws are visiting for the holidays. I can't bring it up now"
  • on Christmas Day, when Bud made a person-to-person phone call to Sheldrake's home, the family was celebrating a lavish Christmas under the tree - the embarrassed Sheldrake (in a new dressing gown just received as a present) shamelessly refused to offer help even though he heard that Fran had taken an overdose of sleeping pills and was recovering after a "touch and go" night
  • still morose and recuperating in bed, Fran asked Bud: "Why can't I ever fall in love with somebody nice like you?" Bud replied (with his most famous line) - speaking with shaving cream all over his face: "Yeah, well, that's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise"
  • in a kitchen scene, Bud sang operatically as he dexterously strained spaghetti over the strings of his tennis racket for an Italian spaghetti dinner: ("You should see my backhand") - it was a special dinner for Miss Kubelik after her suicide attempt; he quipped: ("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...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")
  • during a New Year's Eve celebratory scene in a Chinese restaurant, Fran was being entertained by Sheldrake and learned that Bud had quit his job rather than lending out his apartment's key anymore: (Sheldrake: "He 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"); she responded: "I guess that's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise"
  • Fran rushed to Bud's apartment, realizing that he really loved her and had sacrificed his career for her; but when she reached the top of the stairs, she heard what she thought was a gun-shot - and was relieved when the door opened and Bud was holding a recently-uncorked bottle of champagne foaming over
Curtain-Closing Final Scene - Gunshot and Rummy Game
  • during the curtain-closing scene - a card game (gin rummy) between Fran and Bud as the New Year dawned, he professed his love ("I absolutely adore you") and Fran responded by handing him a pack of cards and bluntly speaking the film's last line, still romantically reticent: "Shut up and deal!"

Bud's Insurance Company Office

Bud with Wastebasket of Liquor Bottles - Neighbor's Reaction

Innocent Elevator Operator Miss Kubelik

Sleazy Executive Sheldrake

Fran's Recovery From Overdose of Pills

"That's the way it crumbles, cookie-wise"

Tennis Racket Spaghetti-Straining

Sheldrake's Revelation to Fran that Bud Had Quit


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