How controversial was The Apartment?

Discussion in 'Movies' started by AllanN, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. AllanN

    AllanN Supporting Actor

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    I just rented this film (thank you Netflix) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Not growing up or even being born in the early 60’s when this classic film came out I have no idea how it impacted culture during all the changes that where happening in our society in the 60’s. This was the first movie I personally have seen from the late 50’s early 60’s that included issues like corporate corruption, suicide, and adultery so up front. Was this normal fare for cinema by 1960? Or was this movie more groundbreaking at it’s time? Was this movie a springboard to other more culturally challenging cinema of the 60’s? To me the story and the problems the characters faced transcend completely into our time culture. But I don’t think it would have the shocking effect that it might have had over 40 years ago.

    Also to the best of my knowledge color photography for cinema was widely available. Was it the directors choice to shoot a Scope B&W movie if so why? Or am I just off on my history of color film?
     
  2. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Allan,
    The film was not as groudbreaking as you might have thought due to several 1950s' films dealing with the same subject matter. An example being "Executive Suite" which was released in 1954 and is in the works for a dvd release in 2004.




    Crawdaddy
     
  3. Eric Peterson

    Eric Peterson Cinematographer

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    The Apartment is my favorite film of all-time and if you really enjoyed it, you should check out more Billy Wilder films. I'm not sure about the cultural impact of the movie, but Wilder was often referred to as the guy that made "Those Dirty Movies", especially after "The Aparment".

    It was definitely his choice to use Black & White as he was much more comfortable in that medium. Wilder only made two color films before this - "The Emperor Waltz" & "The 7 Year Itch", both of which were requirements by the studio and/or the stars. After "The Aparment", he made the following films.

    "One Two Three" - B&W - 1961
    "Irma La Douce" - Color - 1963
    "Kiss Me Stupid" - B&W - 1964
    "The Fortune Cookie" - B&W - 1966

    At this point, color was pretty much demanded:

    "Private Life of Sherlock Holmes" - Color - 1970
    "Avanti" - Color - 1972
    "The Front Page" - Color - 1974
    "Fedora" - Color - 1978
    "Buddy, Buddy" - Color - 1978

    "The Aparment" was based on an idea that Wilder had while watching David Lean's "Brief Encounter" in 1945, but he didn't act on it for 15 years.

    I would recommend the following Wilder movies.
    "Double Indemnity" - 1944
    "Sunset Boulevard" - 1950
    "Ace in the Hole" - 1951 (Very Hard to Find)
    "Stalag 17" - 1953 - Hogan's Heroe's was based on this
    "Some Like It Hot" - 1959
    "One Two Three" - 1961 - One of the greatest comedies
    "The Fortune Cookie" - 1966 - Lemmon & Matthau's 1st movie

    You really can't lose with any of his movies though. I've watched them all at least 3 times and several well over 10 times.

    If you watch more, I would love to hear your opinions.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    I actually found Some Like It Hot far more daring.

    --
    H
     
  5. AllanN

    AllanN Supporting Actor

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  6. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Well, certainly The Apartment wasn't the first film to deal with controversial issues (going way back to the silent era). Consider for example, Chaplin's cocaine use in Modern Times.

    As to being a controversial film, I don't think the Apartment was, although strangely enough massive hoopla was made 4 years later for Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid. Why that film was considered so controversial when The Apartment, One Two Three, Irma La Douce and others weren't is frankly a bit beyond me.
     
  7. dave_brogli

    dave_brogli Screenwriter

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    So someone fill a guy in on what is so controversial in this movie. Anyone popluar in it?

    (for a sec upon reading this thread I tohught you were talking about Joe's Apt.... eckhhh)
     
  8. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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    I agree with Robert that this was not particularly a groundbreaking film. Nor was it an especially controversial movie, although it was much discussed at the time of its release. For years before the effects of corporate life on the individual were examined in such books and plays as The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit and Death of a Salesman and in film (Robert has mentioned one), but you can go back to the silent era for other examples. King Vidor made a classic film, The Crowd that Wilder alludes to in an early (and often repeated shot) of the desks with workers sitting at each one, beavering away at incomprehensible and meaningless tasks. Just to drive the point home, the protagonist of Vidor’s film was ‘born on the 4th of July’, telling us that he is making a statement about all common Americans.

    This view was not confined to the U.S. For example Ozu made a silent film a few years later, I Was Born But …, which is mostly about two boys coming to terms with life and especially their father’s life; but which also portrays the humiliation the father must undergo daily in order to keep (and advance) his place in the corporation—not unlike Lemmon’s character in The Apartment.

    To restate, while this film was discussed on its release, it was not really controversial, nor without precedent.

    As for the film being in B&W, by the time this film was made, color was expected in most important films. B&W tended to be reserved for ‘B’ films. Further Billy Wilder was a very successful director with a string of films in the 50s starting with Sunset Blvd. and including Stalag 17, The Seven Year Itch, Witness for the Prosecution and Some Like It Hot. All in B&W, except for The Seven Year Itch. The point is in 1960 he could dictate his terms. He wanted a wide, B&W film. That is what he got.
     
  9. AllanN

    AllanN Supporting Actor

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  10. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  11. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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    Allan, socially conscious movies started appearing very early in the game. But by the post-War era they assumed new immediacy. By the time Hollywood slowly emerged from the Code, controversial topic matter was much more common.
     
  12. SteveP

    SteveP Second Unit

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    As much as I love THE APARTMENT, in general, 1960 was considered a slow year for movies.
     
  13. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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  14. Lew Crippen

    Lew Crippen Executive Producer

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  15. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I'm not sure what you mean by a 'slow year'. It certainly had it's share of great films including:

    The Apartment
    Psycho
    The Magnificent Seven
    Spartacus
    Inherit the Wind
    Hiroshima, Mon Amour
    L'Avventura
    La Dolce Vita

    and many others
     
  16. Robert Crawford

    Robert Crawford Moderator
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    Don't forget the following:
    • Elmer Gantry
    • The Alamo
    • Never on Sunday
    • Butterfield 8
    • The Sundowners
    • The Time Machine
    • Breathless
    • The Unforgiven
    • Exodus
     
  17. Kirk Tsai

    Kirk Tsai Screenwriter

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    Somewhat related: how was the public reception of Elmer Gantry and Sweet Smell of Success? Both are still very powerful today.
     
  18. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    I do know that Sweet Smell of Success was responsible for the fall of Walter Winchell, which was apparently a good thing.
     
  19. SteveP

    SteveP Second Unit

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    SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS was NOT directly responsible for Walter Winchell's downfall. The story had been published quite some years before the film was made, when Winchell still had substantial power and influence. Besides, SWEET SMELL was released in 1958.
     
  20. AllanN

    AllanN Supporting Actor

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