Mad Mensch

It seems like an eternity until Mad Men season three. Looking desperately for a sixties office drama fix I turned to The Apartment starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacClaine. According to Mad Men creator Matt Weir the film served as an a inspiration. In tone however, The Apartment is more of a drama - romantic comedy which we now know to be bad for our health.

The film centers on C.C.Baxter(Lemmon) and follows his ascension as an employee in an insurance company. We watch him fall in love with elevator attendant, Fran Kubelik, played by MacClain. The gender roles of Baxter and Rubelik clash in one particularly satisfying scene where Rubelik has just had her self-esteem steamrolled and Lemmon is reveling in his new position at work. Along with the job comes an office, and an appropriate hat.

The film correctly correlates the derby hat, or bowler, with status. It was a symbol of the gentleman and class distinction when men were still myths dressed in wool suits. Class carried expectations of character. The cynicism in The Apartment will be familiar to viewers of Mad Man but there's healthy dose of mostly successful camp humor in the mix too. Both show a dogma of masculinity that is about to fall apart. The Apartment milks the confusion for laughs.

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