The Apartment Complex

Urban Living and Global Screen Cultures

Book Pages: 216 Illustrations: 28 illustrations Published: October 2018

Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies, Media Studies > Film, TV

From the bachelor pad that Jack Lemmon's C. C. Baxter loans out to his superiors in Billy Wilder's The Apartment (1960) to the crumbling tenement in a dystopian Taipei in Tsai Ming-liang's The Hole (1998), the apartment in films and television series is often more than just a setting: it can motivate or shape the narrative in key ways. Such works belong to a critical genre identified by Pamela Robertson Wojcik as the apartment plot, which comprises specific thematic, visual, and narrative conventions that explore modern urbanism's various forms and possibilities. In The Apartment Complex a diverse group of international scholars discuss the apartment plot in a global context, examining films made both within and beyond the Hollywood studios. The contributors consider the apartment plot's intersections with film noir, horror, comedy, and the musical, addressing how different national or historical contexts modify the apartment plot and how the genre's framework allows us to rethink the work of auteurs and identify productive connections and tensions between otherwise disparate texts.

Contributors. Steven Cohan, Michael DeAngelis, Veronica Fitzpatrick, Annamarie Jagose, Paula J. Massood, Joe McElhaney, Merrill Schleier, Lee Wallace, Pamela Robertson Wojcik 


"[The Apartment Complex is] a concise, remarkably wide-ranging book on an unusual topic. ...  Stark and satisfying. ... Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers." — W. W. Dixon, Choice

"The Apartment Complex builds upon the premise of Wojcik’s earlier book that wedded cinema studies to urban studies. . . Its strength lies in how the individual essayists apply Wojcik’s thesis— developed for post–World War II American films— to the more recent output of international films and television." — Carrie Rickey, Film Quarterly

"Wojcik has produced a book unrestricted by the limits of genre, history, nation, or industry figure, and illuminates important visual and thematic connections between films in global screen culture." — Anna Maria Sapountzi, Open Screens

“This collection builds on the groundbreaking and expansive work that Pamela Robertson Wojcik began in The Apartment Plot. Bringing together a distinguished group of scholars—who are all also compelling writers—The Apartment Complex makes us see apartments and urban cinema differently. The essays assembled here proceed by way of close, attentive reading, careful historicization, and theoretical argumentation. Threaded throughout the book is the claim that the modern apartment is the representational ground of various forms of modernist cinema. This collection is a pleasurable and serious addition to contemporary film scholarship.” — John David Rhodes, author of Spectacle of Property: The House in American Film

“Distinguished by its range of topics, themes, and nationalities, as well as by the uniformly excellent quality of the writing, this book will be welcomed within film studies and in the broader area of urban studies.” — Lucy Fischer, author of Cinema by Design: Art Nouveau, Modernism, and Film History


Availability: In stock
Price: $24.95

Open Access

Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Pamela Robertson Wojcik is Professor of Film, Television, and Theatre at the University of Notre Dame and author of The Apartment Plot: Urban Living in American Film and Popular Culture, 1945 to 1975, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  ix
Introduction: What Makes the Apartment Complex? / Pamela Robertson Wojcik  1
1. Palaces of Pleasure and Deceit among the Clouds: The Depression-Era Cinematic Penthouse Plot / Merrill Schleier  21
2. From Walter Neff to C.C. Baxter: Billy Wilder's Apartment Plots / Steven Cohan  44
3. Alain Renais, Tsai Ming-liang, and the Apartment Plot Musical / Joe McElhaney   65
4. Movement and Stasis in Fassbinder's Apartment Plot / Michael DeAngelis  84
5. Housework, Sex Work: Feminist Ambivalence at 23 Quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles / Annamarie Jagose  105
6. Home's Invasion: Repulsion and the Horror of Apartments / Veronica Fitzpatrick  126
7. Reattachment Theory: Gay Marriage and the Apartment Plot / Lee Wallace  145
8. "We Don't Need to Dream No More. We Got Real Estate": The Wire, Urban Development, and the Racial Boundaries of the American Dream / Paula J. Massood  168
Bibliography  187
Contributors  195
Index  197
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

Rights and licensing
Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-1-4780-0142-3 / Cloth ISBN: 978-1-4780-0108-9
Publicity material