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THE APARTMENT

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Review by Alex Haberstroh

Stars:  Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston
Director:  Billy Wilder
Audio:  Dolby 1.0 (English, Spanish, French)
Video:  2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen (B&W)
Subtitles:  Spanish, French
Studio:  MGM
Features:  See Review
Length:  125 minutes
Release Date:  June 19th, 2001

“You see a girl a couple of times a week for laughs and sooner or later she thinks you’ll divorce your wife.   Not fair, is it?”
"No, especially to your wife.”

Film ***

Made the year after Some Like It Hot, The Apartment marked Director Billy Wilder’s successful reteaming with actor Jack Lemmon.  Nominated for ten Oscars and garnering five (including Best Picture), I was eager to see what work the team had produced after their previous comedic gem.  

Quite to my surprise though, from its very opening, The Apartment is far from the type of comedy I initially expected it to be.  Although the film is certainly filled with some light moments (and is billed as a comedy), the film is richly laden with black humor that I’m fairly surprised didn’t offend audiences in the past.

The Apartment is a scathing comedy that targets sensitive subjects such as infidelity, as well as the political maneuvering involved in squirming to the top in corporations (sadly, depravity always helps to make a film ageless). 

The film’s protagonist is C.C. “Bud” Baxter, an ever so affable employee of a New York City insurance company.  Wanting advancement in the company, and being too much of a pushover to say no, he is left in the precarious position of having his apartment be the clubhouse for all of his bosses’ flings.   Unfortunately, the bosses push Bud out of his apartment so much so that he is stuck working many hours of overtime and, in one scene, Bud is pushed out of his apartment at almost midnight, leaving him with nothing to do but sit on a bench in the rain all night.

When Bud’s bosses finally recommend him for promotion, he is brought upstairs to the main supervisor, the slimey Mr. Sheldrake (MacMurray).  Sheldrake, having heard about Bud’s situation with his other bosses, dangles a management promotion in return for Bud’s key.  Bud acquiesces and takes the promotion, but soon finds out that the woman Sheldrake is seeing (and mistreating) is the elevator girl he loves (MacLaine).   

Despite its huge success, the film seems incredibly low budget.  Watching the film, I felt as if it had been adapted from a play, as the whole story is not only dialogue driven, but also mostly takes place in Bud’s office and (yes, you guessed it) his apartment.  Despite its low budget, the acting is generally top notch, so I can see why the film won its awards.

Although many will most likely feel that they’ve seen this movie already through more recent films such as For Love or Money, etc, this is an interesting, if somewhat predictable look, at making the right decision between selfishness and selflessness. 

Video ***

The black and white anamorphic transfer generally performs well.  Occasionally there are problems with specks and grain, but all in all the transfer is sound for an older film.                     

Audio **1/2

The Dolby mono track certainly doesn’t blow one’s socks off.  The center channel handles this dialogue driven track easily, and there are no problems with distortion. 

Supplements *

Nothing but a trailer.  

Summary:

An interesting, older selection with top notch performances from all involved, but especially Lemmon and MacMurray, MGM should have given this transfer a little more of an effort.