#246 / 365 – ‘The Apartment’ (1960) – 125 mins
IMDb Challenge #143 / 250 – Ranked #92 – DVD Collection
C.C. “Bud” Baxter (Jack Lemmon) knows the way to success in business…it’s through the door of his apartment! By providing a perfect hideaway for philandering bosses, he reaps a series of undeserved promotions. But when Bud lends the key to big boss J.D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), he not only advances his career, but his own love life as well. For Sheldrake’s mistress is the lovely Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), the elevator girl of Bud’s dreams. Convinced that he is the only man for Fran, Bud must make the most important executive decision of his career: lose the girl…or his job.
Nominated for ten Academy Awards, it won five, including Best Picture and Best Director. Billy Wilder co-wrote and directed The Apartment in 1960, straight after he made the even better-known and much more loved for me, ‘Some Like It Hot’. To be honest it’s hard to think of any other filmmaker working in Hollywood at the time who could have remotely matched his achievement in making these two very contrasting but equally brilliant comedies back to back. Jack Lemmon, who stars in both, is easily to see was a fascinating actor at his peak. The Apartment works so well because of the sweet interaction play between Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine who is adorable as the elevator operator.
In a way it’s hard to define if, The Apartment should transcend into romantic comedy genre because it covers many sad plot lines, adultery and attempted suicide, not many of todays rom-coms go down this route.
Despite all this gloom, The Apartment is a very funny film and with many memorable scenes one being, when Baxter’s in the apartment on his own and his interactions with the television had me laughing lots. On top it’s wittily scripted and inventively directed, a Billy Wilder screen gem.
#247 / 365 – ‘Metropolis’ (1927) – 153 mins
IMDb Challenge #144 / 250 – Ranked #97 – DVD Collection
In the far future, the towering city of Metropolis is divided between the wealthy who live lives of pleasure above ground, and workers who slave day and night in subterranean factories. When Freder (Gustav Frohlich), son of the city’s ruler Joh Frederson (Alfred Abel) ventures below the surface for the first time, he’s shocked by what he discovers. He also meets the beautiful and pure Maria (Brigitte Helm) who preaches that soon a mediator will come to reconcile the two halves of the city. But while Freder falls in love with Maria, his father feels that her influence among the workers may be dangerous, and plots with the embittered scientist Rotwang (Rudolf Klein Rogge) to replace her with a robot double.
Metropolis is an intricate, intriguing, and exquisite silent sci-fi classic from Fritz Lang. Just the visuals alone are a ride in themselves and they are put together in such a haunting and dreamlike manner. Considering that Lang made this classic in 1927 means everything in its production design was way ahead of its time.
#248 / 365 – ‘Downfall’ (2004) – 155 mins
IMDb Challenge #145 / 250 – Ranked #93 – iTunes
Berlin, April 1945. As fighting rages in the streets, Adolf Hitler (Bruno Ganz) retreats to his bunker with his closest confidantes. Among them is 25 year-old Traudl Junge (Alexandra Maria Lara), Hitler’s private secretary since 1942. Despite blinding evidence that Berlin can no longer be held, Hitler refuses to leave the city and berates those around him for having failed in their duties. While the full force of the Allied advance shatters the last remnants of resistance, the Fuehrer lays down plans for his final exit.
Late in this controversial German drama film Downfall, even after Hitler exits the stage, Magda Goebbels (Corinna Harfouch), wife of one of Hitler’s notorious henchman, systematically places cyanide capsules into the mouths of her young sleeping children. Her reason she says “They are too good to live in a world without National Socialism”. I have to say without a doubt this is one of the most chilling and horrifying scenes I’ve ever seen committed to film, and its one that will stay with you days after if not weeks – this scene alone just tore emotional chunks out of me.
Throughout Downfall Bruno Ganz’s portrayal of Hitler is one of the more daring performances out there, and it easily to see why it provoked a wave of controversy, because in between the tantrums and the paranoid rants, Hitler shows moments of kindness and even tenderness particularly towards Traudl his personal secretary through whose eyes this story is told. In way you worry that this film is trying to ‘humanize’ Hitler and somehow make him less of a monster of pure evil that he was.