A lowly office clerk at a large insurance company at Manhattan realizes that he cannot progress solely on the merits of hard work at his organization and therefore, must learn to cooperate with his superiors by helping them conduct their extramarital affairs in the secrecy of his apartment. Wilder carefully spreads instances of such moral dilemmas throughout the movie, when characters seem to ask questions to the audience, as they lament over their failures and inability to make choices. For instance, Fran’s question “Why do people have to love people, anyway?”(The Apartment) is not simply about her insecurity surrounding her affair with a married man, who is yet to divorce his wife to be with her, but it is, in fact, a question which the film asks throughout its entirety. After all, people are selfish and can go to any length to secure their private interests. Why would Bud be willing to vacate his apartment for his superior’s trysts if it was not for his chance of getting a promotion in return? Isn’t Fran looking after her self-interests by expecting Sheldrake to divorce his wife? Lemmon and MacLaine’s relationship is intriguing to watch, with the former’s character being an ardent admirer of the latter only to have his feelings crushed by the discovery of Fran and Sheldrake’s relationship. The film continues to enchant the viewer with exchange of dialogues between the characters, whose only reason for interaction with each other is that they are somehow dependent on the other for something, except for perhaps Bud who sees such innocence and attractiveness in Fran, which Maclaine perfectly carries till the end of the film. One dialogue, which is particularly admirable for its honesty is "I used to live like Robinson Crusoe. I mean shipwrecked among 8 million people.
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An author of the essay "Billy Wilder: The Apartment" outlines that the film is able to depict in a lighthearted manner, how the priorities of people change with the progress of mankind as the pursuit of money, status, lust, and greed takes over humanity…
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