Jack Lemmon Saw The Apartment As More Controversial Than Some Like It Hot

One thing Lemmon loved about “The Apartment” from the moment he first read the script “was the fact that there were so many faults in the characters,” the actor explained. “Billy [Wilder] was never afraid, in fact, he would seemingly go out of his way to manifest the faults within characters, because we all are faulted.”

Having morally complex characters makes the film more true to life, but it also complicates the moral stance of the film and its director. At the time that “The Apartment” was released in 1960, the Hays code was beginning to loosen its grip on the American film industry. That meant that all mentions of sex, especially extramarital affairs, were still taboo. That’s why when Ability Magazine asked Lemmon if he got any backlash for “Some Like it Hot” in 2001, he replied, “No… there was more controversy about ‘The Apartment’ actually.”

The premise of “The Apartment” suggests that it is normal, even popular, for businessmen to cheat on their spouses. Moreover, the main character’s romantic interest, Fran Kubelik (Shirley Maclaine), is involved with a married man. Fran’s behavior is downright immoral, and yet the audience is made to sympathize with her, and even fall in love with her. It might not seem crazy in today’s social climate, but in 1960, such a story was totally unheard of in Hollywood.

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