The Apartment is a 1960 romantic comedy-drama movie produced and directed by Billy Wilder from a screenplay he co-write with I.A.L. Diamond, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. The supporting cast including Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen, David Lewis, Willard Waterman, David White, Hope Holiday and Edie Adams. Take a look below for 28 more fun and interesting facts about The Apartment.
1. The movie follows C.C. “Bud” Baxter, an insurance company clerk who permits his bosses to use his Upper West Side apartment to conduct extramarital affairs in hope of getting a promotion. Simultaneously, Bud pursues a relationship with an elevator operator Frank Kubelik, unaware that she’s having an affair with one of the apartment’s users.
2. The Apartment was distributed by United Artists to favorable reviews and commercial success, despite controversy owing to its subject matter.
3. At the 33rd Academy Awards, The Apartment was nominated for 10 awards and won 5, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay.
4. Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine were Oscar nominated and won the Golden Globe Awards for their performances in the movie.
5. The Apartment provided the basis for Promises, Promises, a 1968 Broadway musical by Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Neil Simon.
6. The Apartment has come to be regarded as one of the greatest films ever made, appearing in lists by the American Film Institute and Sight and Sound magazine, and being selected by the United States Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.
7. The Apartment was the last black and white movie to win Best Picture at the Academy Awards until The Artist. Schindler’s List, which won in 1994, wasn’t completely black and white as some scenes were in color, like the girl in the red and the candle in the beginning of the movie.
8. Billy Wilder originally thought of the idea for the movie after seeing Brief Encounter and wondering about the plight of a character unseen in that movie. Shirley MacLaine was only given 40 pages of the script because Wilder didn’t want her to know how the story would turn out. She thought it was because the script wasn’t finished.
9. The nasal spray used by Jack Lemmon was actually milk. Real nasal spray wouldn’t have shown up on camera.
10. Fred MacMurray had just signed a long-term contract with Disney to do family movies like The Shaggy Dog and was initially reluctant to do the morally ambiguous character of Sheldrake.
11. Wilder directed Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch and Some Like It Hot. He grew to despise her demands for star treatment and her poor work ethic, which is why he included the part-girl Monroe-esque character in this movie.
12. The office Christmas party scene was actually filmed on December 23, 1959, so as to catch everybody in the proper holiday mood. Billy Wilder filmed almost all of it on the first take, stating to an observer, “I wish it were always this easy. Today, I can just shout “action” and stand back.”
13. Billy Wilder gave Jack Lemmon free rein to fill in the character of C.C. “Bud” Baxter in performance. He compared the actor favorably to Charles Chaplin and thought he could do no wrong.
14. Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond wouldn’t allow even the slightest deviation from their script. Shirley MacLaine drove them crazy with her ad-libbing. She was forced to do one of the elevator scenes five times because she kept missing one word.
15. Paul Douglas was cast as Sheldrake but died before filming began. He died from a heart attack while eating breakfast in New York just before he was to fly out to the Coast for filming.
16. The Apartment’s classic last line was thought up by the writers at the last minute on-set.
17. Billy Wilder and cinematographer Joseph LaShelle were occasionally at odds over the movie’s look. LaShelle, who had worked with directors who came primarily from television, wanted to use more close-ups, a shot Wilder preferred to avoid.
18. To get Fran to look genuinely startled when her brother-in-law punches Calvin, director Billy Wilder smacked together two pieces of 2×4 during the shoot.
19. C.C. Baxter is just a poor accountant. However, inside his apartment are two authentic Tiffany Studios lamps, worth hardly anything when the movie was made, but now worth between $30,000 and $40,000 each.
20. Both C.C. Baxter and Fran Kubelik at different times hold up 4 fingers but say 3. Baxter says he only had 3 drinks at the Christmas party but holds up 4 fingers and Fran says she’s only had 3 boyfriends but holds up 4 fingers.
21. It was said that while filming the scene where C.C. Baxter sleeps in Central Park in the rain, Billy Wilder had to spray Jack Lemmon with anti-freeze to keep him from freezing.
22. Billy Wilder claimed that he and I.A.L. Diamond already had Jack Lemmon in mind to play Baxter when they wrote the screenplay. In an interview a few years later, Lemmon confirmed this.
23. Billy Wilder created memo pads and stationary with Sheldrake’s name on them, even though no one but Fred MacMurray ever saw them.
24. The studio wanted Groucho Marx for the role of Dr. Dreyfuss, but Billy Wilder said no, stating that he wanted an actor with more dramatic weight for the part.
25. The wool coat that Fran wears in various scenes actually belonged to Audrey Young, the wife of Billy Wilder.
26. The shot of Kubelik lying unconscious on Baxter’s bed was inspired by the composition of Rousseau’s Sleeping Gypsy, which hangs in the bedroom.
27. The name on the door next to Baxter’s office is T.W. Plews. Tom Plews was the prop master.
28. Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond deliberated for 20 minutes when Jack Lemmon insisted he wanted to use the word “yes” twice.