MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
Earlier this year, I made a list of movies that I haven’t seen that I really should see. Some of these films included Best Picture Oscar winners. Others included entries on the AFI Top 100 list. One of those many films which were represented on both those sources is Billy Wilder’s “The Apartment.” It’s just one of those movies that I’ve missed over the years.
And this is one of the reasons I really like reviewing DVDs and Blu-rays for a living. It gives me an opportunity to see some of these classic films when they get a new release. Well, “The Apartment” has just dropped on Blu-ray, and now was my chance to see it. And I was very happy I did.
“The Apartment” tells the story of an office worker (Jack Lemmon) who gets in good with his higher-ups by letting them borrow his apartment in the evening for lover’s trysts. This puts him on a fast track to a promotion, but one of the executive (Fred MacMurray) starts using his apartment for rendezvous with the elevator girl (Shirley MacLaine), whom he’s already fallen for.
The film starts out as a warm and light screwball comedy that was so popular back in the early 1960s. Jack Lemmon is a comedic genius, and under the direction of Billy Wilder, his talents shine. There’s a certain nostalgia that even I feel while watching these old office comedies. While I wasn’t alive (let alone working in an office) back then, a lot of the elements represented the movies and television I watched back in the day.
My wife and I chuckled a this movie quite a bit, seeing all the old office elements which ranged from blatant sexism in the workplace to the archaic equipment like Rolodexes, typewriters and adding machines. “The Apartment” preceded many of these wacky sex comedies before they became too over-the-top, and it works brilliantly as a light romantic comedy.
However, it’s not just a romantic comedy. Things get quite dark and dramatic past the half-way point, offering a depth to the characters that you don’t always see in the aforementioned wacky sex comedies of the 60s. The cast brings the film together, showing Lemmon and MacLaine as more than just comedic performers, but also as those who can hold their own with heavier script elements.
I’m glad to have seen “The Apartment,” particularly in a new high definition transfer. The print could have been cleaned up a bit and restored, but at the very least, it offers the wide scope presentation that was originally seen in theaters rather than a pan-and-scan or reduced letterbox image.
This new Blu-ray comes with an audio commentary from film historian Bruce Block. There’s also the featurette “Inside the Apartment,” which gives a retrospective of the development and making of the film from a TCM or AMC type of perspective. Finally, for Jack Lemmon fans, they can watch “Magic Time: The Art of Jack Lemmon,” which features Lemmon’s son reminiscing about his father’s career. There’s also the original theatrical trailer on the disc.