Thursday, October 27, 2011

The 15 Minutes Project #8: C.C. Baxter in The Apartment

C. C. Baxter in The Apartment
  1. Credits roll over exterior shots of the apartment.
  2. Aerial shots of the city. Baxter’s voiceover gives actuarial statistics about New York City. He explains that he works for an insurance company, Consolidated Life.
  3. We see a vast sea of employees. We meet Baxter at one of the desks, using a massive adding machine. His head jerks with each movement. The bell goes off and everybody else leaves but Baxter stays at his desk, working. He explains in voiceover that he can’t go home yet because he has a little problem with his apartment.
  4. Baxter comes home, sees the lights on in his apartment and hears music playing. He frowns and hides, waiting outside…
  5. Inside, we see one of the execs at his company trying to hustle a floozie out of the apartment.
  6. Baxter hides when the exec finally leaves. The floozie insists on a cab instead of subway fare. “How come all you dames have to live in the Bronx?” “You mean you take other girls up here?” “Certainly not, I’m a happily married man!” Baxter rolls his eyes.
  7. Baxter enters, his neighbor asks about all the noise, disapprovingly.
  8. Baxter cleans up, but the exec comes back and says she forgot her galoshes. Baxter tries to complain. The exec says he put in a good word for him with Sheldrake in personnel. The exec complains about the lack of crackers and drinks, but puts off chipping in any money. He leaves.
  9. Baxter cleans up after their party, drinks the last martini, cooks himself a TV dinner.
  10. The doctor from next door comes home, sees Baxter setting out a lot of liquor bottles. He’s shocked a nebbish like Baxter could have so many parties and sleep with so many women—or so he hears through the walls. “Slow down, kid!” Baxter just shrugs.
  11. Baxter is asleep in bed when a another exec, on the phone, wakes him up and demands the apartment, Baxter has already taken a sleeping pill and it’s 11PM, but the exec says that he’s filling out the efficiency report the next day...
  12. Baxter hides under his stoop while the exec enters with Marilyn Monroe sound-alike.
  13. The exec enters the apartment. The neighbor shouts, “Mildred! He’s at it again!”
  14. Baxter falls asleep on a park bench.
  15. Baxter arrives at work with a cold. Says hello to one of the execs in the lobby. Elevator opens. Kubelick, a pretty elevator girls, says hello to everybody.
  16. In elevator, Baxter asks her, “What did you do to your hair?” “It was making me nervous so I chopped it off. Big mistake, huh?” “No, I kinda like it!” He sniffles loudly. She says, “You’ve got a lulu.” “Yeah, better not get too close.” “Oh, I never get colds.” He gives statistics on the average number of colds. She says that that makes her feel terrible, since somebody else has to get more colds to make up for her good health.
  17. An exec slaps her ass. She makes a joke about chopping off his hand. They both laugh. The exec takes Lemmon aside: “That Kubelick! Best operator in the building. I’m not a bad operator myself, but she just won’t give me a tumble.” He wonders why not. Baxter responds, “It could be she’s just a nice respectable girl, there’s millions of them!” The exec sneers: “Listen to him: Little Lord Fauntleroy!”
  18. Baxter calls another exec and tells him that his floozie did a Picasso mural on his wall and he put the wrong key under the mat, meaning that Baxter had to sleep in the park. The exec agrees to send the right key down and send in that efficiency report praising Baxter.
  19. Baxter is called upstairs to speak to the boss. He assumes that he is about to get a promotion.
  20. He tells Kubelick the good news in the elevator. She’s happy for him.
  21. Instead, his boss tells he knows all about the key and doesn’t approve. Baxter promises to stop. The boss says good, because he wants the exclusive use of the apartment for his own mistress…

Analysis: If the story had started earlier, we could say that the problem was a lack of a promotion, the opportunity was the execs who wanted his key, and the conflict was they disrespect they showed towards their privileges. But Wilder skips over the series of soul-deadening compromises that brought Baxter to this point, and that all becomes the backstory. Instead, he starts at the moment that Baxter begins to want to pull himself out of this mess. Deciding where to begin your story is just as hard as figuring out how to end it.

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