The apartment

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German title The Apartment
The Apartment (DVD)
Original title The apartment
Country of production United States
original language English
Publishing year 1960
length 125 minutes
Age rating FSK 16
Director Billy Wilder
script Billy Wilder,
IAL Diamond
production I.A.L. Diamond,
Doane Harrison ,
Billy Wilder
music Adolph Deutsch ,
John Reading
camera Joseph LaShelle
cut Daniel Mandell

The Apartment is a 1960 American film directed by Billy Wilder, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine . Together with his long-time screenwriter I. A. L. Diamond , Wilder produced the feature film for United Artists . The film received numerous awards, including five Academy Awards .


The little employee Baxter works for a New York insurance company "Consolidated Life". He serves himself up by making his bachelor apartment on the west side of Manhattan available to senior executives as a love nest. Sometimes he has to sit in the cold on a park bench in Central Park for hours before he can go back to his apartment.

One day HR manager Mr. Sheldrake meets there with the elevator operator Fran Kubelik, who is also Baxter's eye. At the company Christmas party, he realizes that his beloved is Sheldrake's lover. He recognizes her powder compact with the broken mirror, which she forgot in his apartment. He drowns his grief in alcohol and wants to console himself with a chance acquaintance. But when he gets home, he finds Miss Kubelik passed out on the bed in his bedroom. After learning from Shedrake's secretary at the Christmas party that he had had affairs with numerous other women from the company before her, she realized that Sheldrake was just taking advantage of her. She then tried to take her own life with sleeping pills out of disappointment and lovesickness. Baxter calls his neighbor Dr. Dreyfuss, who willingly provides first aid, not without warning about the bachelor's apparently reckless lifestyle. The patient gradually recovers in Baxter's bed.

Baxter makes sure Mr. Sheldrake doesn't get into trouble. To cheer Miss Kubelik, he plays gin rummy with her . When she is halfway on her feet again, she is picked up by her brother-in-law, who is very upset about her suicide attempt. To protect her, Baxter claims he is the guilty party and takes a beating for it. She has to realize that Sheldrake has taken advantage of her, but when he allegedly leaves his wife because of her, she turns around again. In fact, Sheldrake still has no intention of openly professing Fran. In fact, he was thrown out by his wife after he fired his secretary for talking to Fran and she told his wife about his affairs.

In the end, Baxter has to decide: does he want to climb the corporate ladder at all costs? Baxter immediately denied Sheldrake access to his apartment and lost his job. When Kubelik found out about this at the New Year's Eve party, she finally separated from the HR manager. Realizing that Baxter actually loves her, she rushes to meet him. He has now decided to start a new life. She discovers the gin rummy cards on the packed suitcases in Baxter's apartment. Instead of responding to a declaration of love from Baxter, she thrusts the cards into his hand saying "Shut up and share!"


Wilder came up with the idea for this film after seeing the film Encounter (1945) and wondering what the predicament of a person who surrenders his apartment to other couples might look like. Shirley MacLaine only got to see the first forty pages of the script because Wilder didn't want her to know the outcome of the story too soon. She supposedly assumed that the script wasn't ready yet. Billy Wilder later said he never considered The Apartment a comedy.

The scene in the huge open-plan office at the beginning of the film is visually a tribute to King Vidor's silent film A Man of the Crowd . For the scenes in the office, the back rows were occupied by short actors and specially designed furniture was used. The film was shot in a Goldwyn production studio in Hollywood. Alexandre Trauner received the Oscar for best production design in 1961 for setting the film .

Although Adolph Deutsch was responsible for the music, the popular main theme, Theme From "The Apartment" (original title: The Jealous Lover, 1949) comes from the British composer Charles Williams .

The office Christmas party was filmed on December 23, 1959 so everyone was in the right mood. Wilder usually only needed a single take for the scenes.

The screenplay by Wilder and Diamond later served as the basis for the musical Promises, Promises by Neil Simon (book), Burt Bacharach (music) and Hal David (lyrics). It was first produced on Broadway by David Merrick . The German broadcast by Werner Wollenberger (dialogues) and Charly Nießen (lyrics) was published in 1977 under the title Das Apartment .

Until Schindler's List (1993), the apartment was the last black and white film to be awarded an Oscar in the “Best Film” category. Wilder was at the height of his success. He is one of the few filmmakers (only eight directors have succeeded so far) who have received three personal Oscars for a single film. He was recognized as a producer in the categories of “Best Director” and “Best Screenplay” as well as in the “Best Film” category.

In 2000, Bayerischer Rundfunk produced an audio description of the film for television broadcasts , spoken by Karin Haferland.

Baxter is shown as a friend of European culture: after the first "apartment users" have finally left in the film and Baxter has returned to his apartment, he turns on the television to relax. The film People in the Hotel with Greta Garbo , set in Berlin, is announced, but first comes advertising and wild west droning on other channels. When he switches back to the channel with the announced Garbo film, he still finds advertisements there and gives up in exasperation. The prints that Baxter hung in his apartment are also by European artists: Klee's “Goldfisch”, by Rousseau “The Sleeping Gypsy”, “Three Musicians” by Picasso , by Chagall “Me and the Village” (1911) Leger , Mondrian and others.


The German dubbed version was created in 1960 at Ultra Film Synchron GmbH in Berlin . Erika Streithorst wrote the dialogue book, Josef Wolf directed the dialogue .

role actor German Dubbing voice
CC "Bud" Baxter Jack Lemmon Georg Thomalla
Fran Kubelik Shirley MacLaine Gertrud Kückelmann
Jeff D. Sheldrake Fred MacMurray Wolfgang Lukschy
Dr. Dreyfuss Jack Kruschen Alfred Balthoff
Joe Dobisch Ray Walston Hans Hessling
Al Kirkeby David Lewis Siegfried Schürenberg
Sylvia, Kirkeby's friend Joan Shawlee Tina Eilers
Mrs. Lieberman, landlady Frances Weintraub Lax Ursula War
Colleague from CC Baxter Mason curry Erich Kestin
TV announcer Bill Baldwin Heinz Petruo


A speech error can be heard in the German dubbing:

  • After the night in the park and with a cold in the office, Baxter rearranges the occupancy of his apartment. By telephone he asks Kirkeby (in the 12th minute of the film) to reschedule from Thursday to Friday; For his part, Kirkeby suggests to his girlfriend, the operator Sylvia, that the meeting - correctly - rescheduled from Friday to Thursday, which he then passed on to Baxter.


“With this extremely bitter comedy, Billy Wilder created a classic that is sometimes so evil that it makes you laugh in your throat. The satire on business ethics and willing subordinates skilfully moves on the edge of the grotesque. "


“One of the hottest, bitterest and most successful Billy Wilder comedies: an evil satire on business ethics and low-headedness, excellently played and exaggerated to the point of grotesque. Wilder unfolds his style of tragicomic moral criticism to the highest degree. "

"In the guise of a boisterous comedy with many comical ideas hides a deeply sad story, a gloomy reflection that reaches to the point of open cynicism on the sale of humanity."

- Horst Peter Koll, 1995

"In Das Apartment [sic] , Jack Lemmon impressively translates Baxter's carelessness and versatile behavior in verbal and body language - an expression of the abandonment of his domestic privacy out of material and social opportunism."

- Claudia Lillge, 2005


Academy Awards

At the Academy Awards on April 17, 1961 , the film was successful in five categories:

Golden Globes

At the 18th Golden Globe Awards , the film was victorious in three categories:

British Academy Film Award

Cinema Writers Circle Awards, Spain

  • 1964: CEC Award for the best film

Directors Guild of America

  • 1961: DGA Award for outstanding directorial work to Billy Wilder and Hal W. Polaire (assistant director)

Laurel Awards

  • 1961: Golden Laurel for Shirley MacLaine for best actress (drama)
  • 1961: Golden Laurel for best comedy
  • 1961: Jack Lemmon awarded Golden Laurel for Best Actor (Comedy)

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

  • 1960: NYFCC Award for Best Director to Billy Wilder (together with Jack Cardiff for Sons and Lovers )
  • 1960: NYFCC Award for Best Picture (together with Jack Cardiff for Sons and Lovers )
  • 1960: NYFCC Award for Best Screenplay to Billy Wilder and IAL Diamond

Venice Film Festival

Writers Guild of America

  • 1961: WGA Award for Best Written American Comedy to Billy Wilder and IAL Diamond

Later awards from the prestigious American Film Institute

  • In 1998 the film reached number 93 in the list of the 100 best films of all time, and in 2007 it improved to number 80.
  • The film was voted 20th on the list of the 100 Best Comedies of All Time.
  • In the list of the 100 best romance films of all time, the film ranks 62nd.

Library of Congress


  • HPK Horst Peter Koll : The apartment. In: classic films. Descriptions and Comments. Edited by Thomas Koebner with the assistance of Kerstin-Luise Neumann. 4 vol., Reclam, Stuttgart 1995, vol. 2, pp. 403-406. ISBN 3-15-030011-8 .
  • Hans-Jürgen Kubiak: The Oscar Films. The best films from 1927/28 to 2004. The best non-English language films from 1947 to 2004. The best animated films from 2001 to 2004. Schüren, Marburg 2005, ISBN 3-89472-386-6 .
  • Claudia Lillge: The apartment [sic]. In: Heinz-B. Heller , Matthias Steinle (ed.): Film genres. Comedy. Reclam, Stuttgart 2005 ( RUB ), ISBN 978-3-15-018407-3 , pp. 301-305 (with references).

Web links

Commons : Das Appartement  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b The apartment. In: Lexicon of International Films . Film service , accessed June 25, 2018 . Template: LdiF / Maintenance / Access used 
  2. So he speaks - apparently (like Wilder) a German-speaking emigrant - Baxter into conscience, in the original English version with the words "Be a Mensch!", Which for him is more than a "human being."
  3. ^ Billy Wilder in a cinema interview. Quoted from: Claudia Lillge: Das Apartment [sic]. In: Heinz-B. Heller, Matthias Steinle (ed.): Film genres. Comedy. Reclam, Stuttgart 2005 ( RUB ), ISBN 978-3-15-018407-3 , pp. 301-305, here 304.
  4. The Apartment on, July 22, 2001.
  5. Bong Joon-ho , Leo McCarey , Francis Ford Coppola , James L. Brooks , Peter Jackson and the brothers Joel and Ethan Coen
  6. The apartment in the Hörfilm database of Hörfilm e. V.
  7. At that time there were In Germany, for example, there is hardly any advertising on (all public) television and only at strictly defined times in the evening program.
  8. The apartment in the German synchronous file
  9. The apartment on
  10. ^ HPK [Horst Peter Koll]: The apartment. [sic] In: Classic films. Descriptions and Comments. Edited by Thomas Koebner , with the assistance of Kerstin-Luise Neumann. 4 volumes, Reclam, Stuttgart 1995, Vol. 2, pp. 403-406, here 404. ISBN 3-15-030011-8 .
  11. Claudia Lillge: The Apartment [sic]. In: Heinz-B. Heller, Matthias Steinle (ed.): Film genres. Comedy. Reclam, Stuttgart 2005 ( RUB ), ISBN 978-3-15-018407-3 , pp. 301-305, here 303.