Billy Wilder's (very) dark comedy about a young shnook working his way up the corporate ladder and the toll it takes on his humanity remains a genuinely fresh and relevant satire half a century later. Wilder and Diamond's script adroitly walks a tightrope between comedy and tragedy, where romance or suicide seem equally likely outcomes at any given moment (and occasionally very nearly intertwine).
Lemmon gives one of his finest performances, quite possibly his best, playing opposite the wonderful Shirley MacLaine, who manages to be funny, touching and tragic all at the same time. Fred MacMurray is especially effective in a dark turn as the manipulative personnel manager, and Edie Adams, Jack Kruschen, and Ray Walston are all fine in supporting roles. Features stunning black and white cinematography by Joseph LaShelle, perfectly capturing Alexander Trauner's sets which effectively convey both the squalor and character of Lemmon's apartment and the suffocating impersonality of his looming, sprawling office.