The Apartment (1960) - Plot Summary Poster



Showing all 7 items
Jump to:


  • A man tries to rise in his company by letting its executives use his apartment for trysts, but complications and a romance of his own ensue.

  • As of November 1, 1959, mild mannered C.C. Baxter has been working at Consolidated Life, an insurance company, for close to four years, and is one of close to thirty-two thousand employees located in their Manhattan head office. To distinguish himself from all the other lowly cogs in the company in the hopes of moving up the corporate ladder, he often works late, but only because he can't get into his apartment, located off of Central Park West, since he has provided it to a handful of company executives - Mssrs. Dobisch, Kirkeby, Vanderhoff and Eichelberger - on a rotating basis for their extramarital liaisons in return for a good word to the personnel director, Jeff D. Sheldrake. When Baxter is called into Sheldrake's office for the first time, he learns that it isn't just to be promoted as he expects, but also to add married Sheldrake to the list to who he will lend his apartment. What Baxter is unaware of is that Sheldrake's mistress is Fran Kubelik, an elevator girl in the building who Baxter himself fancies. In turn, Sheldrake has no idea of Baxter's own interest in Fran. And Fran, who is in love with Sheldrake, has no idea that she is only the latest in a long line of Sheldrake's mistresses, that Sheldrake has no intention of leaving his wife for her, and that the apartment belongs to Baxter, who she likes as a friend. As some of these facts come to light on Christmas Eve, one of the three makes a unilateral decision. That decision sets off a series of events over the course of the next week which makes each of the three examine what he/she really wants which in turn may be incompatible with the other two. They are helped along the way by Dobisch, Kirkeby, Vanderhoff and Eichelberger who are now feeling neglected as Baxter no longer needs their assistance in moving up, by Miss Olsen, Sheldrake's long serving secretary who was also once his mistress, and by Dr. Dreyfus, a physician and one of Baxter's many exasperated neighbors who believes Baxter is a playboy based on all the noise he hears in Baxter's apartment and the plethora of empty liquor bottles Baxter seems to be always discarding.

  • Insurance worker C.C. Baxter lends his Upper West Side apartment to company bosses to use for extramarital affairs. When his manager Mr. Sheldrake begins using Baxter's apartment in exchange for promoting him, Baxter is disappointed to learn that Sheldrake's mistress is Fran Kubelik, the elevator girl at work whom Baxter is interested in himself. Soon Baxter must decide between the girl he loves and the advancement of his career.

  • C.C. Baxter is a go-getting office worker who dreams of climbing the corporate ladder. His means of attempting to do so see him loaning his shabby little apartment to his colleagues for their romantic trysts. Things become complicated for Baxter when the woman of his affection, Fran Kubelik, just so happens to be the girlfriend of his heartless boss, Jeff Sheldrake.

  • Bud Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is shrewd when it comes to advancing his career. While he might not have any exemplary skills, he does possess one thing that can give him an edge toward a promotion: an Upper West Side apartment. Because it's far away from the suburbs and close enough to their work, some of the managers at Bud's job have been giving him glowing recommendations for the shared use of the apartment to conduct their extra-marital affairs. When Bud's boss learns of this, he wants in on the action, putting Bud out of his apartment for the night but compensating him for the inconvenience. Unfortunately, Bud's date for the evening stands him up, which is made all the more surprising when he goes home and finds her unconscious in his apartment. Being the gentleman he is, Bud nurses the woman to health, spurring them both to fall in love with each other, despite the gossip at work.

  • Bud Baxter is a struggling clerk in a huge New York insurance company. He's discovered a quick way to climb the corporate ladder - by lending out his apartment to the executives as a place to take their mistresses. He often has to deal with the aftermath of their visits and one night he's left with a major problem to solve.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • C. C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is a lonely office drone for an insurance company in New York City. Four different company managers take turns commandeering Baxter's apartment, which is located on West 67th Street on the Upper West Side, for their various extramarital liaisons. Unhappy with the situation, but unwilling to challenge them directly, he juggles their conflicting demands while hoping to catch the eye of fetching elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Meanwhile the neighbors in the apartment building assume Baxter is a "good time Charlie" who brings home a different drunken woman every night. Baxter accepts their criticism rather than reveal the truth.

    The four managers write glowing reports about Baxter a little too glowing, so personnel director Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray) suspects something illicit behind the praise. Sheldrake lets Baxter's promotion go unchallenged on condition that he be allowed to use the apartment as well, starting that night. Sheldrake gives Baxter two tickets to The Music Man to ensure his absence. Delighted about his promotion, Baxter asks Kubelik to meet him at the theatre. She agrees and it is revealed to the audience that she is Sheldrake's girlfriend, intending to break off their affair that night but is instead charmed by Sheldrake to the apartment. Baxter is disappointed at being stood up, but is willing to forgive Kubelik.

    At an office party on Christmas Eve, Baxter discovers the relationship between Sheldrake and Kubelik, though he conceals this realization, while Kubelik learns from Sheldrake's secretary that she is merely the latest female employee to be his mistress, the secretary herself having filled that role several years earlier. At the apartment, Kubelik confronts Sheldrake with this information and while he maintains that he genuinely loves her, he leaves to return to his family. Meanwhile, a depressed Baxter picks up a woman in a local bar and, upon returning the apartment, is astounded to find Kubelik in his bed, fully clothed and overdosed on Baxter's sleeping pills.

    Baxter sends his bar pickup home and enlists the help of his neighbour, a physician, in reviving Kubelik without notifying the authorities. The doctor makes various assumptions about Kubelik and Baxter, which Baxter concedes without revealing Sheldrake's involvement. Baxter later telephones Sheldrake and informs him of the situation, and while Sheldrake professes gratitude for Baxter's quiet handling of the matter, he avoids any further involvement. Kubelik recuperates in Baxter's apartment under his care for two days, during which he tries to entertain and distract her from any possible suicidal afterthoughts, talking her into playing numerous hands of gin rummy, though she is largely uninterested.

    Baxter and Kubelik's absence from work is noted and commented on, with Baxter's former "customers" assuming that Baxter and Kubelik were having an affair. Kubelik's taxi-driver brother-in-law comes looking for her and two of the customers cheerfully direct him to Baxter's apartment, partly out of spite since he has been denying them access since his arrangement with Sheldrake. The brother-in-law also assumes the worst of Baxter and punches him several times.

    Sheldrake, angered at his secretary for sharing the truth with Kubelik, fires her. She retaliates by telling his wife about his infidelities, leading to the breakup of the marriage. Sheldrake moves into a room at his athletic club and continues to string Kubelik along while he enjoys his newfound bachelorhood. Baxter finally takes a stand when Sheldrake demands the apartment for another liaison with Kubelik on New Year's Eve, which results in Baxter quitting the firm. When Kubelik hears of this from Sheldrake, she realizes that Baxter is the man who truly loves her and abandons him, running to the apartment. Baxter, in the midst of packing to move out, is bewildered by her appearance and her insistence on resuming their earlier game of gin rummy. When he declares his love for her, her reply is the now-famous final line of the movie: "Shut up and deal."

See also

Taglines | Synopsis | Plot Keywords | Parents Guide

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed