#ScreenplaySunday: THE APARTMENT by Billy Wilder & I.A.L. Diamond

I chose ‘The Apartment’ for this week’s #ScreenplaySunday because it was one of the first recommendations I received when I started this weekly challenge (thank you @vero_vjazzy!). The movie was made in 1960 and wow was it ever awesome! This story has the simplicity of everyday life mixed with all the confusions, misunderstandings, and love triangles that come along with it. I learned a lot from this screenplay about humanity (and how we have hardly changed since the 60’s), and script writing (since this was definitely one of the originals!). Below is my review, enjoy, and as always, feel free to recommend my screenplay for next week!


I decided to add a ‘summary’ section to this week’s post incase you don’t know the story. This story is about a guy named C.C.Baxter (aka Bud), who is a bachelor in New York, living alone in a nice, cozy, little apartment, and working an entry level job in a fancy office building. Bud gets caught in a mess when he lets executives in the office use his apartment for time with their mistresses. After all 4 gentlemen from different departments ‘put in a good word’ for Bud at the office, his boss starts to catch on that the good word is not about his work, but about his apartment. Sure enough, his boss wants to use the apartment exclusively and for his own affair with Fran, the elevator girl, who Bud happens to like. Bud agrees, although he doesn’t know Fran is the mistress! Watch the movie, read the script, or just message me, to find out how it ends!


VOICE OVER – The screenplay starts with a lot of voice over’s from Bud, which is awesome for us because we get to learn about Bud, but more importantly, we see how he views himself, which I think is the most important thing when studying any character.

IMAGERY – The script really doesn’t have a lot of dialogue, but a lot of description of action. There’s a style of simplicity here that is just brilliant. For example, we get to know Bud simply by knowing what TV channels he doesn’t want to watch.

STORY – Obviously the story to me was the best part about this screenplay. We learn what someone will do for power, how people exploit their power, and the lengths people go to, morals they abandon, to get ahead in the world. It paints a picture of the easy misunderstandings of everyday life, and how normal, innocent situations can become crazily entangled webs. It also shows us how we are drawn to the one person who can see through the misunderstandings and take our side anyway. We fall for the person who doesn’t judge us, but gets us. Let’s be real, in the crazy world, all we really want is to be understood, am I right?

LANGUAGE/GRAMMAR – This was a subtle strength that really made the story what it was. The best example I could gather was when Bud says: “Oh, my God”. Now imagine saying that, versus saying “Oh my God”. The exact same words yet such a different vibe and personality behind it all because of punctuation, because of ONE COMMA! This screenplay was filled of examples like that, where a subtle change could change the entire vibe of the story.


SLOW MOVING – Like every other older movie I watched,  I believe that the setup was just too long. The screenplay took too long introducing characters that really didn’t mean much at the end of the story. For the first third of the story I thought the supporting characters (the 4 gentlemen using the apartment) were leads! However, I could see this as a weakness only in today’s age, since now, almost 60 years later in 2017, we all have the attention span of a fruit fly, let’s be real.

CHARACTER POINTS SHOWED UP LATE – At almost the END of the screenplay, we learned some crazy things about Bud and his past. This might have been a style choice, but as a reader I felt betrayed because I thought I knew Bud, the hero, better than anyone.


This was tough because there are many one liners in this screenplay that made me laugh and obviously made me love the scene. There were also some supporting characters that had extremely strong scenes that are not exactly crucial to plot, but are extremely fun to read and envision. Therefore, my favourite scene is when Bud is sitting in a bar depressed on Christmas Eve, Santa Clause has a little cameo appearance which was hilarious, and then a similarly depressed woman, Margie, befriends Bud. Their exchange is electric and fun to read. My favourite line closes the first half of this scene before cutting to what Fran is doing, when Bud says:

“I said I had no family — I didn’t say I had an empty apartment”. 

I’m sure you can use your imagination to figure out where this line is taking us next!


Overall, this story stole my heart. Maybe even for it’s 60th anniversary (2020) it could be remade, even with the exact same script (except maybe a little bit faster moving in the beginning). Reading this screenplay reminded me of the magic of the movies: a place to go to see real people solve the exact problems you have. Watching them go through the same struggles that you are or at one time encountered, seeing them overcome it, and in turn, being inspired to overcome your own struggles too!


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