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Wednesday October 17th 2018

The Apartment | 1960

Billy Wilder’s snappy satire scooped Best Picture, Writer and Director Oscars. Downtrodden insurance clerk CC Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is obliged to let out his apartment to philandering boss Jeff D Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray).

The ‘Consolidated Life of New York’, where Baxter works, was the brand new (in 1960) $13 million skyscraper, 2 Broadway at Bowling Green in Manhattan’s Financial District, which was used for both the exterior and the lobby scenes. The building still stands but that distinctive ‘honeycomb’ frontage has inevitably been replaced with anonymous plate glass.

Baxter waits in vain for Miss Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), while she’s being wined and dined by sleazeball Sheldrake of course, outside the Majestic Theatre, 247 West 44th Street between Broadway and 8th Avenue, where the hit musical of the day, The Music Man, was playing.

Trivia fans might want to know that it was The Music Man which won the Tony for Best Musical in 1958, over that trendy, new-fangled flash-in-the-pan called West Side Story.

It was a real New York bar where a morose Baxter builds up an impressive collection of cocktail olives, the Emerald Inn, 205 Columbus Avenue, between West 69th and West 70th Streets. It closed a few years ago, moving to new premises at 250 West 72nd Street.

The address of the titular brownstone itself is given as ’51 West 57th Street’, on the West Side close to Central Park. It was initially to have been filmed on location using 55 West 69th Street, though the New York weather persuaded Wilder to recreate the whole frontage extremely convincingly on a soundstage on The Lot, Formosa Avenue in West Hollywood.