This feature has been missing for too long. So when I put a call out for what the world of the internet wanted to return to the site this was the most responded long lost feature.
Inspired by Robert K. Elder’s book (The Film That Changed My Life) I thought it would be fun to take that very idea and point that question in the direction of fellow bloggers and cinema enthusiasts such as myself and see what the result ends up being.
Me: The first question I always like to ask anyone doing these interviews is when was the first time you say this film, and I think you’re going to be the first person I talk to who’s picked a film which I’m willing to guess wasn’t just released while you were still alive.
Anna: My parents were only four when this movie was released, so don’t count on it.
Me: So how was the first time you ended up seeing this film and when was it?
Anna: I saw it back in 2009. I was getting a little more interested into movies. I’d already seen Citizen Kane, The Godfather, basically the essential classics. When I saw The Apartment I just felt like seeing it on a whim, instead of sitting in the library I just said, “what the heck, I’ll see it”. Then when it was over I thought, “this is really good,” it wasn’t until I rewatched it that I realized, “oh my God, I’m in love with this movie.”
Me: On the first time you watched it you said that you didn’t really realize how good it was, but what was it that pushed you to see it again?
Anna: It’s just… It just works. The story flows, the acting’s wonderful. It’s just the usual specs with most movies.
Me: What me and my friends refer to as the ‘checklist’.
Anna: Fair enough. When I saw it, I hadn’t seen that many classics – as I stated before – and this was the first ‘old movie’ so-to-speak that I just fell in love with on the spot. It also spurred on my now very known interest in the classic films.
Me: Well I guess the question I have to ask is: Jack Lemmon or Billy Wilder?
Anna: You have to make me choose? Wow. That was actually the second Billy Wilder movie I had seen, the first one being The Lost Weekend. The Apartment was the first Jack Lemmon movie I had seen and I’m going, “this guy is really good.” I had never even heard of him prior to seeing this, so this is kind of a surprise for me.
Me: I have to say I’m a bit surprised to hear it’s the first Jack Lemmon movie you’ve ever seen, because this might’ve been the first film of his that I ever saw seeing the classic Jack Lemmon, but I had known him from Grumpy Old Men and all of his older roles.
Anna: Like Glengarry Glen Ross?
What everyone talking about The Apartment tends to gravitate towards is the weird line that the film takes in not really being sure whether you’re watching a comedy or a drama. Jack Lemmon is one of those few people who finds that line so well and you don’t think about whether it’s one or the other, you just laugh and cry. Do you agree/disagree with those thoughts in relation to the film and Lemmon’s performance?
Anna: Well I just like him because he’s one of those actors who can do comedy and drama with immense ease. With drama you have Days of Wine and Roses and comedy you have Some Like It Hot, The Odd Couple. With The Apartment it’s a combination of both, and personally with me anyone who can do drama and comedy with equal ease is a damn good actor.
Me: One of the things this film talks about a lot has to do with amoral thoughts. Where a nice guy is doing something that maybe isn’t quite so likeable. Do you think that the film ever really decides whether he’s a good or a bad person based on this fact?
Anna: I think it does show that he’s a good person, but considering the people that he’s loaning out his apartment to can help him get a better job I think it makes him go to ‘that side’ of himself. It’s hard to say actually.
We know he’s a good person, it’s just the temptation of a better job is a little too great for him.
Me: You say, “you know he’s a good person.” How is it you know he is one at all?
Anna: Well, you see the conversations he has with Ms. Kubelick and pretty much everyone else in the office. He’s just a nice guy. He doesn’t really feel that he’s a bad person. He doesn’t shout at anyone, or rude, he’s just a nice guy.
Me: This reminds me of a discussion I was having a work a while back where we were talking about the difference between nice and morally good. I feel you can be morally questionable, in that you’re doing things or allowing things that aren’t so well thought of in the world, but you can be doing it with a nice smile on your face, but does that end up making you a good person?
Anna: Well if it’s immoral, like murder, then not so much, but if it’s something that might come and bite you in the butt later then not so much, like with him loaning out his apartment to his married coworkers so they can fool around with their mistresses. That’s not generally a good thing…
Me: One of the things this movie discusses which has to do with, slightly – and I hate to use this term in films, especially in historical context because I wasn’t really there so I can’t really tell how much it was – groundbreaking in the fact not many movies back then talked about the topics of adultery and suicide. Not many films even did it as overtly as this did. How did you see the film’s thoughts on these issues? Not just on the men, but also everyone else affected?
Anna: Bear in mind, as I said, I hadn’t seen that many old movies at that time. I didn’t really know going in what previous views on suicide and adultery and things like that. Now that I do I see this as a really daring move. But then again, Billy Wilder was a bit on the daring side with some of his work.