The Apartment (Blu-ray)
In Billy Wilder’s THE APARTMENT, we meet likeable pushover, C.C. Baxter. As a young bachelor working as a clerk in an insurance agency, he has grand dreams of promotion and career success. Unfortunately, Baxter’s superiors know how to use their authority to secure his bachelor pad as their personal rendezvous point for their illicit trysts and romances. Wanting to appear as a team player, he is unable to say no to his bosses while his neighbors think of him as a party all night long playboy.
Right off the heels of Wilder’s success in the hilarious SOME LIKE IT HOT, we are treated to a different type of film with taboo subject lines for the 1960’s in THE APARTMENT. Affairs, attempted suicide, and a poor shmuck caught in the middle, you can’t help but be intrigued. Perfectly executed with a top notch cast, it is easy to get sucked into Baxter’s problems. However frustrated I was with the storyline it kept me glued to the TV wanting to see how everything would turn out.
Two of my favorite supporting characters in this movie were Baxter’s neighbors, Dr. and Mrs. Dreyfuss. The timing was everything; their hallway reactions to the women coming and going from Baxter’s apartment were entertaining to say the least. When Dr. Dreyfuss slaps Fran across the face (multiple times) I am afraid to confess that I was laughing, even though the moment did not suggest anything remotely funny.
What a surprise to see the man who played the ‘dad’ figure so well in THE SHAGGY DOG or MY THREE SONS taking on such a callous role! Who knew Fred MacMurray had it in him? As Mr. Sheldrake, president of the insurance agency, his booming, yet soothing voice commanded attention and respect; even though his actions did not. The few moments we see him with his family at Christmas and he was the opposite of a family man, not understanding what his children were discussing, made me chuckle.
As the love interest in the zany triangle, Shirley MacLaine couldn’t have done a better job playing the part of elevator operator, Fran Kubelik. I enjoyed seeing her story unfold, despite the tragic moments. She was good-natured with innocent charm; you could see why the guys wanted to gain her attention.
Lastly, praise must be given to the star of the entire production; Mr. Jack Lemmon as C.C. Baxter. Lemmon is the most perfect ‘everyman’ and a wise casting choice by the filmmakers. Wearing every emotion with the skill of the seasoned veteran he had yet to become, you cannot help but relate to poor Baxter. His puppy dog enthusiasm toward Ms. Kubelik was endearing, while his actions as the softy subordinate were infuriating. Lemmon gave the picture personality and energy. He taught me if I am ever without a colander I can use a tennis racket to strain spaghetti. Seeing the contrast from his previous role as Jerry in SOME LIKE IT HOT, reteaming with Wilder on this picture you see just how far his acting prowess can stretch.
Audio (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1): Fantastic audio for this dialogue driven film.
Video (2.34:1): For a black & white movie, the video was quite good. It did not look too shadowy or dark; it was a nice clean picture.
Commentary with Film Historian Bruce Block: This commentary is a bit bland, but I do like the moments where Bruce Block shares trivia about the cast, crew and filming.
Inside THE APARTMENT (29:36): This is an entertaining feature if you are interested in film history. This feature includes interviews with cast, crew, historians and Jack Lemmon’s son.
Magic Time: The art of Jack Lemmon (12:47): Jack Lemmon’s son tells us all about the life and times of Jack Lemmon’s career up through THE APARTMENT. You also get a glimpse into the special working relationship between Billy Wilder and Jack Lemmon.