As of November 1, 1959, mild mannered C.C. Baxter has been working at Consolidated Life, an insurance company, for close to four years, and is one of close to thirty-two thousand employees located in their Manhattan head office. To distinguish himself from all the other lowly cogs in the company in the hopes of moving up the corporate ladder, he often works late, but only because he can't get into his apartment, located off of Central Park West, since he has provided it to a handful of company executives - Mssrs. Dobisch, Kirkeby, Vanderhoff and Eichelberger - on a rotating basis for their extramarital liaisons in return for a good word to the personnel director, Jeff D. Sheldrake. When Baxter is called into Sheldrake's office for the first time, he learns that it isn't just to be promoted as he expects, but also to add married Sheldrake to the list to who he will lend his apartment. What Baxter is unaware of is that Sheldrake's mistress is Fran Kubelik, an elevator girl in the ...Written by
Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond would allow not 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. See more »
Baxter gives Fran coffee to drink. The coffee is freshly made and so it's boiling hot, but she drinks it quickly, as if it had been sitting around for some time. See more »
On November 1st, 1959, the population of New York City was 8,042,783. If you laid all these people end to end, figuring an average height of five feet six and a half inches, they would reach from Times Square to the outskirts of Karachi, Pakistan. I know facts like this because I work for an insurance company - Consolidated Life of New York. We're one of the top five companies in the country. Our home office has 31,259 employees, which is more than the entire population ...
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It's lost a step over time, but still satisfies even if it does not surprise
This film was groundbreaking in the sense that it dealt with sexual harassment in the workplace in a way that was quite realistic for 1960. All the women are in menial jobs at the insurance company where Jack Lemmon's character works, and all of the executives are men. The executives look at their female workforce as one big harem and won't let a little thing like the fact that they are married and intend to stay that way interfere with their stepping out from time to time. This is where C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) comes in. He trades the use of his apartment to these executives in return for promotions and perks. However, Baxter has an attack of conscience when he comes face-to-face with the collateral damage that one of these executives is doing in the person of Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Fran, the elevator operator, has just found out she is one of many affairs for big boss Mr. Sheldrake (Fred McMurray), whom she genuinely loves, and when she and Sheldrake quarrel in Baxter's apartment and Sheldrake leaves her some money for her troubles, unintentionally making her feel even cheaper than she already feels she swallows a bottle of sleeping pills hoping not to wake up, slipping into a coma on Baxter's bed.
Things I noticed - this film has lost something with the passage of time in the shock value that was, I think, part of the original appeal. But it still has some outstanding acting, some personal redemption and transformation that people just love to see on film, and kudos to Mr. McMurray for portraying an authentic heel, leading women on and leading a double life without a tinge of conscience, phoning to inquire about his mistress' health on Christmas Day as he is busy playing with his children at home. Without this entry under his belt I would have always doubted his range as he was the perennial nice guy in almost every other role he ever had.
Did you also notice a business world and a New York that is gone forever? Nobody adds numbers by hand - or by computer for that matter - any more, elevators have long been run by machines, and the entire floor of people that Baxter worked on would today be replaced by computers. Also notice that Baxter has a very middling job - at least at first - and yet lives comfortably sans roommate to share expenses in an apartment IN Manhattan. Those were the days.
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