CC Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is a rising corporate star. While he is good at his job, his primary appeal to those promoting him is the free use of his well-stocked apartment by those seeking a pad for extramarital affairs or one-night stands. His neighbors think he is a hard-drinking womanizer. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Baxter is married to his work and bent on climbing the ladder to the top. His single crush is Fran Kubelik (Shirley MaClaine) the elevator girl in his office building. After Baxter spends an exhausting night locked out of his apartment in the rain, his work phone rings and he is summoned to the corporate office. The head, Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) is on to Baxter’s rapid rise. He knows about the apartment and its influence on those reviewing Baxter’s work. This could end his career. There’s a catch; a big one. It involves Baxter, Fran, Sheldrake and the apartment. From here the tone shifts notably from wacky giggle-fest to something more somber. Shirley MacLaine inhabits Fran with a wonderful combination of naiveté and intelligence; frailty and strength. Jack Lemmon wonderfully plays the straight man amid the craziness of booking his pad nightly, and frequently more than a week in advance. Again, Director Billy Wilder has made me smile and seek more.
Awf Hand gives 4 out of 4 stars. For those looking back at an anthology of Lemmon’s pre-“Grumpy” days, this touching film a just the right blend of wackiness and intelligence.
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