A Third of Your Monthly Penance

While searching for a blog entry that might reveal the name of the typeset that was used in The Apartment‘s main title sequence, I stumbled upon a lovely, stream-of-consciousness post by Janielle Kastner, a writer and podcaster out of Texas.  She, like me, drilled down into the finances of C.C. “Bud” Baxter, since he is so kind to state his weekly income and his rent costs in his opening voice-over monologue.

I was reading over Kastner’s math, and she stated that Baxter’s rent was only an astonishing 21% of his monthly income, compared to the rule-of-thumb guideline that rent should be about a third, meaning that while Baxter was living modestly, he was potentially saving money hand-over-fist.  Since I had spent a chunk of time on the podcast calculating that his rent was $85 dollars a week and his income was $94.70 a week, which meant that he was living on about $41 a month, this drew me up short.  I’d said his rent was 89% of his wages, she said 21%.  Who was right?

Well, the script was able to clear this up quite handily.  Published in 1972 by Samuel French as one third of Film Scripts: Three along with Charade and The Misfits, a simple double-check proved quite handily that… I was very wrong.  While the narration in the screenplay and the narration in the finished film don’t quite match up — there’s a lot more V.O. and details that aren’t on the page, as well as a $1 inflation in Bud’s rent between the initial writing and the finished product — but he very clearly says both on the page and on the film that he has a take-home pay of $94.70 a week and a rent of $85 a month.

Which, I very much should point out, Anna called me on during the episode and I dismissed her with a certitude that I had paid very close attention to the numbers, and they may be ludicrous! but they were accurate.  Which was clearly bad form on my part.  My apologies and mea culpa.

And speaking of $94.70, while I didn’t calculate it on the podcast, $100 in 1960 has roughly the same same buying power as over $850 today, apparently.  So when Anna says, “It’s not nothin’…” she’s also not wrong.  However, if you’re as ignorant as I am about high fashion, you might be surprised how much a “nice alligator bag at Bergdorf’s” actually runs, and $850 will put you only in the middle of the pack.

Lastly, the score was written by Adolph Deutsch, and not “Arthur” Deutsch.  Funny how “Adolph” just doesn’t stick in the mind…

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