We went to see Promises, Promises the other night which from its title may sound as if it’s in some way related to politics but unless you think a story of adultery and a woman trying to take a man from her husband has something to do with politics, it isn’t really. It is based on the 1960s film, The Apartment, about a fellow trying to work his way up the corporate ladder by letting a number of executives from his business use his apartment for liaisons with women, the main pairing being the head of the department who has promised his latest fling that he will leave his wife. And while the stage production is done tongue and cheek and played mostly for laughs – it is a musical with its feature song, “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” – I found the morality of it quite disturbing since the one person who is portrayed to have been the innocent, almost no more than a bystander, was that other woman who knowingly and with malice aforethought took up with a married man and was specifically carried along by his false promise that he was about to leave his wife and children to be with her. She instead ends up with the man who has loved her from the start in a storyline that is intended to be seen as an uplifting finale which only reminds me how our communal moral compass has shifted and the shifting can be traced back, as with the film, to the 1960s.
There was a time when no one who behaved as that woman did would have been seen as anything other than a moral vacuum and not to be trusted under any circumstances. How the world does change. By the way, Shirley Maclaine played that young woman in the original movie version of The Apartment. It’s quite remarkable how similar she looks to Julia Gillard.