Monday, 30 July 2012

"The Apartment"

Yesterday B.A. and I dropped by Edinburgh's The Filmhouse to buy a DVD and bought tickets to the 6:20 PM showing of The Apartment instead. I had heard good of it, knew it was a comedy, and saw that it was filmed before 1963, so I thought I would like it.

Well, I loved it. I think I should compile a list of great films for or about Singles, because The Apartment would go to the top of the list.

The themes are adult and rather frank for 1960, I thought. In short, the film is about a Single man (Jack Lemmon) who is working at a huge insurance company in New York city. He has a nice bachelor apartment in the city, and married executives from his company borrow his apartment for dates with their secretaries, switchboard operators, et alia.

Although increasingly annoyed at having to vacate his apartment on five minutes' notice, C.C. Baxter wants to keep in with these executives, who have promised him glowing reviews and advancement. He has serious second thoughts only when he discovers that one of the executives has designs on Miss Kubelik (Shirley Maclaine), the sweet elevator girl he has a crush on.

It's definitely a period piece, and it might be a shocking revelation of what the workplace could be like before contemporary feminism. It presents an astonishing hierarchy of male executives over other male workers and of male workers over female workers. The exploitation could be cruel.

At the same time, though, it shows how working in a big American office during the post-war boom could be hilarious and flirtatious, and this is recognizably the environment that spawned Sex and the Single Girl and Cosmospolitan magazine--neither of which I'm recommending, mind you.

What makes the film fantastic is the efforts of sweet and decent people to remain sweet and decent despite such a decadent and exploitative environment. Both the Single guy trying to get ahead and the Single girl trying to hang onto both love and her self-respect may remind you of yourselves. Let's just say, mistakes are made. Meanwhile, although the viewer is likely to feel angry with the adulterous execs, she is also likely to laugh at them and at their silly girlfriends.

One of the sweetest things about the film is that Mr Baxter and Miss Kubelik keep calling each other Mr Baxter and Miss Kubelik even in the most bizarre or personal circumstances. The polite conventions of 1960 are in such a contrast to its shenanigans.

If you are pondering what to watch tonight, I most definitely recommend The Apartment to readers over 21. In Britain you can see it if you are over 14, but my thought while watching it was that it was definitely a film for Adults. There is no nudity, and very little violence, but there is a lot of suggestion and suggestive talk. It's certainly not crude, but it is still for adults in my Auntie opinion.

(I have a sliding scale of what is an adult, but as this post is about just a classic film, for the purposes of a film review, I am deciding all my readers 21 or over count as adults.)

Update: Anyone who thinks it is acceptable to make fun of my readers is not welcome here. Thanks for the shout-out, Ryan, but my commentators are worthy of respect, and not merely because they are made in the image and likeness of God. Meanwhile, such remarks are why I now actively discourage men from reading my blog. We are women chatting together. If you eavesdrop at least do us the favour of remembering that.

I'm very angry about this. I'm sorry, girls. And for the record, I don't like it being said I have a heart of gold. There is one kind of woman who is associated with a heart of gold, and I do not belong to her profession.

Update 2: I won't link to him, but alas, I have found the first serious Auntie Seraphic detractor. (Not Ryan. Ryan doesn't get the blog, but he doesn't willfully misunderstand it. ) This guy obviously hasn't read much of my blog, or any of my book, or any of my articles in the Toronto Catholic Register or my interview with Radio Maria, because he thinks I hate men. He also seems to think I am a pseudo-trad, but heck. I don't know how you could tell from my blog how trad a Catholic I am or ain't. Oh, and he speculates on my previous sexual sins, which is a definite first for the Catholic blogosphere or Catholic media in general or Catholic men in general, as far as I know.

I'm sorry to mention this last detail, for not only do I love men, a number of men love me very much and at least one of them turned a frightening shade of puce upon reading that. So calm down, Nulli. Although creepy, it wasn't that big a deal. It was, of course, detraction and a sin, and so Mr Super Trad might want to think about mentioning it in the confessional this Saturday.

Incidentally, he assumes my readers never get married. Again, he can't have been reading for very long. Every time a long-term reader writes in that she's gotten married, I post it up as community news or acknowledge it in the combox. And at least one reader became a contemplative nun. Once again, this blog is not about catching a man but about living a happy, holy Single life.

By the way, Tess of Notre Dame has gotten engaged despite my horrible influence. Best wishes, Tess!


american in deutschland said...

I forgive Ryan because the other day he said he'd read and liked Little Women. But really, saying "I easily could but I won't" is more NCB than NCM, or perhaps neither.

Seraphic said...

Oh big fat deal. I read and liked "Tom Sawyer." This does not make me an enlightened woman apart from other women, a friend to men, willing to lower myself to read boys' books.

I am so angry I am just this side of announcing "Date a Protestant Boy Day". Some Protestant boys are great, and don't really have an opinion on what Catholic girls should be like and expect and blah blah blah.

I will now go to the supermarket and bless the heart of every man who passes, even if he is wearing a Hibernians or Celtic football shirt.

SO angry!

TGWWS said...

I wish someone would explain to me why every time girls/women/ladies try to cry on each others' shoulders about relationship woes, some boy/man on the internet stands up, coughs, and utters some version of "You COULD be married if you [dressed differently, had a better attitude, accepted manly men ...]." Why is it always MY FAULT? Who said it had to be somebody's FAULT?

sciencegirl said...

Re: liking men because they've read books about women.


If the books are good, why would it be impressive that the opposite sex likes them?

I am not Russian and know next to nothing about that country, but I liked "Anna Karenina" and "Crime & Punishment." Guess I can now be ambassador! I'll fit in so well, what with my knowledge of 2 novels written over 100 years ago.

sciencegirl said...

I just read Ryan's article. I haven't read his blog before.

I wasn't angry, but then again, I'm not the author of this blog! I'd be annoyed to be told I had a heart of gold, too.

I was more bemused.

When have any of the comments on this blog bemoaned boyfriends or husbands leaving up the toilet seat and making fart jokes? I've been reading for 6 years, and I can't remember a single instance of girls whining about men behaving like typical men, or even like sitcom men. The tone of commentators here sounds like normal women, not fainting damsels. When women get upset here, it's usually over serious stuff, like cancer, the pressure to have sex or even sexual assault (of course not even mentioned in Ryan's article -- why acknowledge the serious side to the women here? Why not just make us out to be a Catholic version of "Seventeen Magazine)?"

Ryan, with his fluttering damsels (us) and his purposeful, steely-eyed, driven men (no Catholic man I've ever met, including my excellent, hard-working father), sounds a bit out of touch with reality. The men I've known who did put that many hours in found time for The Ladies, believe you me.

I read one of his other articles. He's a veteran of Afghanistan, so I'm cutting him SOME slack. The military is great on many fronts (lol), but it's not a great place to learn anything about women. Plus, my brother's a veteran who has spouted off WAY worse than Ryan, so I have a soft spot for clueless veterans.

Your blog could be a great place to learn about women, though you don't want men to use it that way, but it certainly hasn't seemed to work in Ryan's case. All he's learned is that Catholic women would like Catholic husbands, but rather than sympathizing, he just criticized us for 1) thinking GOOD Catholic men would even have time to go out for dinner with us -- only slackers have time to eat dinner with other human beings 2) thinking Catholic men would do all that girly stuff with us (because we're so mad our Catholic boyfriends won't go out for mani-pedis or something?) 3) thinking we could possibly make good wives without a WHOLE LOT of fixing. Um... dude. Thanks for your service, but you're a long ways off from chivalry.

Jam said...

Oh Ryan. Your reading comprehension needs work if you think anyone here will be alarmed by your proclamation that men are different than women. Or that anyone here is longing for a husband to go shopping and knitting with (?).

This cracked me up: "A true GCM is never going to belong entirely to his wife. He will have another life outside. He will have a vocation that is not you, and it will be his life’s work." That's right! Real men have real things to do! They spend all their time striding around being important! And things! In seriousness, though, does Ryan really think a vocation consists primarily in a job rather than a state of life? Bless his little heart.

I'll have to find the Apartment and watch it! Also Pillow Talk, I think, just for further hijinks ;)

Catherine said...

Wow... I admit I never understood why you were so adamant about this being a women-only blog- until now. Ryan's post really gets under my skin because the thing I hate MOST about the Catholic-young-adult-dating-world is this horrible attitude of "men must be THIS WAY and women must be THIS WAY and anyone who doesn't fit the mold should reconcile themselves to being alone forever." He completely misses the point of what you write about, and his attitude is extremely off-putting. Never mind the fact that much of what he said is flat out wrong. For my part, I appreciate this blog and all the commenters. Keep doing what you're doing Auntie!

Kate P said...

I am so not giving that article the time of day. I'm walking away with something positive here: borrowing "The Apartment" (and "Pillow Talk" per Jam's suggestion) from the library.

P.S. I'm more of an "Eight Cousins" fan. :)

Seraphic said...

I went on a long walk into town for groceries--blessing strangers on the way--and came back with four heavy bags of groceries in the rain, and the exercise--and blessing, no doubt--has calmed me down.

There are hundreds of posts on this blog, and for all I know Ryan began reading only recently, so he might not have realized that I constantly harp on a "men are who they are and not who you want them to be" theme.

He might not have reflected, either, that most of you are busy women who might think about your single state for, tops, the 15-30 minutes a day you read my blog and write comments. A lot of you are in grad school. Some of you are scientists. At least one of you logs in here from the USCCB. One logs in from NASA. Yeah, one of you is an astronaut or something, and I think that is amazing.

One of the things about "men are who they are and not who you want them to be" is that some men are simply clueless about women but want to pontificate about or at women all the same.

But whereas there a lot of man things you should just learn to put up with or even train yourself to find amusing, like never wanting to ask someone for directions, cluelessness about women is rather more serious and yet more correctable. It can be explained to a man that as a woman you actually know a lot more about women than he does.

There are different schools of thought on how to deal with men needing to tell you what women are like or what women want. A very beautiful young friend of mine prefers to laugh politely and despise them inwardly. I prefer to argue. But only if they are clever and/or good-looking. If they aren't clever and/or good-looking they are wasting my time because I have a husband: I don't have to listen to their stupid opinions.

Of course, if some guy is rude about my readers or use egregious cliches, I'm going to argue.

Clare said...

I really like his insistence that women must deal with the fact that real men have big important dreams and ambitions, and we must accustom our feminine hearts to not being the center of our man's world.

Helloooo, half my hair-pulling, eye-rolling moments are from guys' reactions to the shocking revelation that I have career dreams and ideological commitments that I take very seriously---not the other way around.

Eowyn said...

I decided I don't want to be angry today, so I stopped reading Ryan's article about 3 sentences in. As my grandmother says, being angry takes up all your adrenaline, and then what are you going to do if you get chased by a bear?

I own "The Apartment" because it was gifted to me in a boxed set which included "Hello Dolly" which I liked before receiving the box set...unfortunately it also included "Some Like It Hot" which I watched first and which was too steamy for my sensibilities and so I am now wary of watching "The Apartment"...maybe I will reconsider?

leonine said...

Eowyn, I love your grandmother's advice. I'm going to take it to heart now, in case there are bears in my future...

Rae said...

I am going to follow Eowyn's grandmother's advice )and frame it somewhere) and stick to the movie review, as well :) I felt guilty when I started watching "The Apartment" when I watched it on TCM a few years ago, but I was so glad I finished it! It is definitely an adult movie, with adult themes, but it really does have a good message - Adultery is not where "happily ever after" is found.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever really considered what a life completely dedicated to God would look like in the lay world? Have you ever pictured the intensity, the single-mindedness with which a man (as opposed to a boy) pursues that which he has chosen? A true GCM is never going to belong entirely to his wife. He will have another life outside. He will have a vocation that is not you, and it will be his life’s work.

(From Ryan's article.)

Then let me humbly suggest that such a man - a man for whom his wife is an impediment to holiness - is called to follow in the footsteps of St. Paul, not one whose vocation is marriage.

That said, I translated this from "man" into "English" as "I'm scared of marrying one of those women who quits her job, has a bunch of kids, stays at home with them, and then - here's the bad part, kids - totally forgets what life outside the home is like, or resents me for having one. I'm totally scared of marrying this interesting, fun woman who then becomes really clingy." I have no humble suggestions, other than to order one's marriage so that one's wife is able to leave the house occasionally.


Seraphic said...

I just don't get what it's got to do with anything I write. Without having done a survey on this, I've always got the impression that most of you girls are university students and professional women who have many interests of your own. If anything, the problem is illustrating to men that they might have something to add to your lives, not that they'll become your whole lives.

Charming Disarray said...

I have to admit, I'm a bit surprised by the reaction to Ryan's post. I understand that you dislike men reading your blog, so an entire post by one about you and your readers is probably pretty annoying, but I don't quite get all the controversy. It sounded to me like his main point was that men should man up, stop being boys, and get married.

I do agree that he seems to have misunderstood what women look for in a Catholic man (NOT someone who will shop with them, ugh) but compared to lot of the truly misogynistic things I hear Catholic men say or write on a regular basis, it seemed kind of tame and well-meant to me. I've been reading Ryan's blog for a while and I've disagreed with some of the things he's said about women (with regard to modesty in particular) but I think he has a genuine respect for women. And he usually writes about how men should act, which is something that, in my experience, is rarely found among Catholic male bloggers, especially young ones.

I don't know. Not telling anyone how to react, obviously, but it seems to me that this kind of anger would be better reserved for the Catholic men who really do treat women like inferior beings. There are plenty of them out there, but I don't think, unless I've grossly misunderstood something, that Ryan is one of them.

Charming Disarray said...

I mean, really, Mr. Super Trad making assumptions about your past and calling you a psuedo-trad seems a billion times worse, not to mention downright malicious. Why isn't everyone angry about that?

Seraphic said...

You know, if he had said he thought I was out to lunch, I wouldn't have been mad. In fact, if he hadn't had second thoughts and decided to tell everyone he wasn't making fun of me or you girls, I wouldn't have been mad.

It was that he suggested that it would be easy to make fun of my "commenter's" (sic). That made me all tiger-mother (or tiger-auntie) because I cannot see how he or anyone else could make fun of you girls. Recent comments included a woman's testimony about how she was raped.

So that puts me in the weird position of some guy both praising me and then hinting that my readers somehow can be made fun of.

I'm mad because guys who just don't get it were getting me so down this spring that I more-or-less kicked all the guys out, even though I really liked a lot of those guys, some of whom have been reading for years. And what I'm left with is the most clueless guys still leaving comments while the thoughtful guys just read silently.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, has ever before suggested my commentators might be easy to make fun of. Ryan wasn't being misogynist about women-in-general. In fact, I don't think he is misogynist. He's probably a nice, well-meaning guy.

But I've been reading the comments for my readers for years. I read your letters. I answer your letters. I read your comments. I think about your comments. In so far as you can know someone over the internet, I know my readers. Sometimes I really worry about you. Sometimes I read a letter and cry.

After six years of writing for my Single women readers, I'm pretty defensive about my Single women readers.

Seraphic said...

Well, I didn't link to Super Trad because he definitely does not deserve the traffic. So nobody can see what they should be mad about.

But, Charming Disarray, I have to say I got a picture of what you are talking about when you talk about trad guys in the US. Trad guys in Poland, or Trad Polish guys in Scotland, would punch him in the snoot if he said something like that about a woman they knew. Heck Heresy Hunter, the biggest baddest trad Catholic blogger in Canada, might ask him to step outside.

Charming Disarray said...

Okay. I see. I sort of skimmed over the comment about the readers being easy to make fun of. That does put a different light on it.

"I have to say I got a picture of what you are talking about when you talk about trad guys in the US."

Usually people think I'm nuts until they've seen it for themselves. I'm sorry you had to see it, though.

Seraphic said...

So far God has given me Single readers and Polish grad students with housing issues He wants housed instead of babies. So I get a bit soppy.

As for American traddery, I don't understaaaaand. Trad guys over here are great, and I know great Trad guys in Italy and Canada. Guys who really are chivalrous without making a song or dance about it or being really nasty about women and thinking this is okay.

Charming Disarray said...

I don't get it either. And not all are like that, either, by any means. But there are MORE than enough to make me very hesitant about smiling and saying hi after Mass.

american in deutschland said...

Okay, well, I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek about reading Little Women -- I just recalled seeing a comment from him a while ago along the lines of, "I read because I like to see what the other side are thinking about, like I read Little Women when I was young," and I thought it was rather funny if also condescending. Because of course all bookish girls, and most non-bookish girls, spend most of their childhoods and young adult lives reading about men, boys, men, men, boys. So.

But like Charming, I didn't find his post extremely offensive, just moderately patronizing. I enjoyed the bit about women having to prepare themselves that Real Men have Real Separate Lives. Please shelter me from the harrowing significance of men's Jobs and Hobbies!! But I've read so much worse from Catholic and evangelical Christian men, this was like cotton candy.

I might support Date Protestant Men day, but with the strong caveat to avoid fundamentalists or are in the New Reformed movement or young men who listen too closely to Mark Driscoll. Auntie S, do you know Mark Driscoll? Do you know what he says about marriage and men and women? Ooooh man. You might not want to Google that until you have blessed the hearts of a few thousand men.

Tess said...

Thank you so much Auntie! I would argue that I got engaged entirely BECAUSE of your influence. As a matter of fact I want your address so I can send you an invitation to the wedding. As I told my fiance (still not used to saying that!!), "We absolutely must invite Auntie Seraphic. Without her, we wouldn't be getting married." And I meant it!

Urszula said...

First of all - congratulations, Tess!! I'm always happy when I see news of engagements here.

Second of all, I didn't bother going to Ryan's blog, mostly because here I don't come to this blog to read about what men think we women think. I'm pretty sure I have a fairly good grasp on that, what with growing up with numerous brothers and cousins, dating other non-family men, and working for over 2 years in a 90%-male-dominated environment.

What I came here for, and what I return to this blog for time and again (even when I've gone astray...) is your wise and friendly albeit sometimes needfully admonishing advice, Auntie, and for the wonderful community of intelligent, personable and kind women that has formed around the blog. Even just reading the comment boxes shows we are a very diverse community. And this blog, at least for me, is a welcome break from other less-Seraphic corners of the Catholic web where girls are applauded for waiting on their manly prince to rescue them and for not planning on going to college or finding work or a hobby to be passionate about.

So I think I understand why you would like to keep this corner of the web limited to women. It’s our space to feel secure, to sometimes support each other and sometimes squabble, all under your watchful eyes. Thank you once again for everything you do for single ladies!

Anonymous said...

I just don't get what it's got to do with anything I write.

Absolutely nothing, Seraphic, which is some of the reason you're so upset. It's really, really lousy when someone takes your perfectly reasonable comments and decides to use them as a vessel into which all of his neuroses may be dumped.

It happens in real life, and it happens on the internet. It's frustrating and emotionally draining, because there is nothing on this green earth that you can do to change said neuroses, but the person apparently believes otherwise.

(Also, in light of the recent-ish discussions on rape, yes, I can see why the condescension towards your commenters would HURT. It would hurt anyway, but that's an extra layer of pain.)


Joan of Quark said...

Seraphic, I love your blog. I really do. It's uplifting, challenging, thought-provoking and intelligent, all of which I appreciate and value.

Ryan and his shopping list of 'things women need to do to get married' are really more symptoms than the disease itself, and goodness knows, I've met plenty of single women with unrealistic shopping lists for men as well.

But you know what? I learned something recently from looking back at my life, and at looking back at how my married friends met and courted and closed the deal.

It's this:
*it doesn't matter whether your hair is long or short
*whether your clothes are perfect (although modest is good, obviously)
*whether you're at your ideal weight
*whether your skin is clear that week
*whether you're poised and elegant upon first meeting, or have just fallen down a flight of stairs
*whether you went to the 'right' websites or parties or whatever.

When GOD chooses the MAN and the MOMENT, you will meet.

If He doesn't choose the MAN or the MOMENT, it won't happen.

And it won't be 'your fault' or 'anything you did wrong' if you've been prayerful, sincere, honest and polite.

It's been huge for me to accept this: that actually my future, single or married, is entirely in God's hands. I can follow His promptings and try to do the right thing, but if I get ignored, knocked back or overlooked, then that may actually be God's will for me. Rejection - as I know from my own life - can be God's protection!

So pixie hair and makeup and current clothes are actually all fine, and can stay just as they are.

(gosh that feels good)

Alisha said...

"A true GCM is never going to belong entirely to his wife. He will have another life outside. He will have a vocation that is not you, and it will be his life’s work."

Wow. Please read Ephesians 5:25 and get back to us about what you think that means. Unless you think we can't handle it. Oh, and while you're at it, please tell us how being condescending and insulting to your sisters in Christ fits into your definition of a GCM OR NCB.
I have to say, my peace with being single increases by leaps and bounds when I read this kind of nonsense.
Thanks for standing up for us Auntie.

Alisha said...

"I prefer to argue. But only if they are clever and/or good-looking. If they aren't clever and/or good-looking they are wasting my time because I have a husband: I don't have to listen to their stupid opinions. Of course, if some guy is rude about my readers or use egregious cliches, I'm going to argue."

Amen. I have yet to learn not to argue with people who are stupid. Perhaps it's pride but I think there is another part of me that is just incredulous that someone could be that stupid. I don't have a husband but I have a generous best friend who listens to me rant about stupid people and sighs and says "I know" (He's a very intelligent man...and not just because he knows now to deal with my ranting!)

Seraphic said...

Oh, Tess. I think I'm going to cry again. You know I live really far away, pumpkin, but send me an email at and I'll write you my mailing address.

Nzie (theRosyGardener) said...

First off, Congratulations Tess!

Second off, clearly I am late to the party - but I have been having a lovely summer which is coming to a close and am at a conference for my internship, so pardon my tardiness.

I am offended on your behalf, Seraphic, than anyone calling himself Christian would make guesses as to the private sins of another person, especially in public. It seems to me clearly wrong and uncharitable.

I am also somewhat bothered that Ryan finds it so easy to make fun of us. I can handle it, even having shared a very frightening personal story, but in light of another commenter's recent sharing of a very painful personal story, I think it quite unkind and I hope that it is not indicative of Ryan's overall character.