(Billy Wilder, 1960)
Reviewed by Dave Lancaster
Summary: Comedywise and dramawise, Billy Wilder's 'The Apartment' is one of cinema's all-time greatest films. A masterpiece.
Six-time Oscar winner Billy Wilder's 'The Apartment' was born out of an idea he had while watching David Lean's 'Brief Encounter'. In Lean's classic romance, two lovers meet at a friend's empty apartment to continue their affair in private. Always one to see something different in a scene, Wilder was more concerned with the guy who owns the apartment and lets it be used for illicit rendezvous.
In 'The Apartment', an Oscar nominated Jack Lemmon plays C.C. 'Bud' Baxter - a low level executive who allows his bosses the use of his place for trysts in order to progress his career. Things get complicated when he falls for the company's quirky elevator girl (an Oscar nominated Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik), who is being chased by Baxter's boss J.D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray who previously went against type in Wilder's seminal noir 'Double Indemnity').
With Baxter in a bind between the girl of his dreams and the career he has worked so hard to advance, Wilder sets a grand stage for both comedy and drama. The maestro won three Oscars for his work directing, writing and producing 'The Apartment' - all richly deserved especially when you consider he lost out for 'Some Like It Hot', 'Witness for the Prosecution', 'Sabrina', 'Ace in the Hole', 'Double Indemnity' and 'Stalag 17'. What a career! And 'The Apartment' is right at the top thanks to its rich dialogue, incredibly human performances and warm chemistry.
'The Apartment' is a masterwork from a filmmaker at the very peak of his craft. It never compromises its emotional core for a cheap laugh. In the same respect, it never wallows in dark drama when it can connect with its audience in a brighter way. Classics don't get much classier than this.
The Arrow Blu-ray (which is out now) makes for the definitive home entertainment print and as expected from Arrow it contains a wealth of bonus materials and lovely packaging.
• Limited Deluxe Edition Blu-ray [3000 copies]
• Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative produced by Arrow Films exclusively for this release
• Original uncompressed PCM mono audio
• Optional 5.1 remix in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio
• Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
• Audio commentary with film producer and historian Bruce Block
• New appreciation of the film and select scene commentary by film historian Philip Kemp
• The Flawed Couple, a new video essay by filmmaker David Cairns on the collaborations between Billy Wilder and Jack Lemmon
• Billy Wilder ABC, an overview by David Cairns on the life and career of the filmmaker, covering his films, collaborators and more
• New interview with actress Hope Holiday
• Inside the Apartment, a half-hour "making-of" featurette from 2007 including interviews with Shirley MacLaine, executive producer Walter Mirisch, and others
• Magic Time: The Art of Jack Lemmon, an archive profile of the actor from 2007
• Original screenplay by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond (BD-ROM content)
• Theatrical trailer
• Special collector's packaging featuring newly commissioned artwork by Ignatius Fitzpatrick
• Collector's 150-page hardcover book featuring new writing by Neil Sinyard, Kat Ellinger, Travis Crawford and Heather Hyche, generously illustrated with rare stills and behind-the-scenes imagery