Blu-ray Review – The Apartment – Arrow Academy

The Apartment

Director: Billy Wilder 

Screenplay: Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond

Minutes: 125

Year: 1960

Score: 8.79

Release: Arrow Academy

The Apartment is a hyper-specific horror film, for an HR worker this film is the impetus for nightmares. For the rest of us, The Apartment is one of the greatest example of romantic comedies, not to mention one of the greatest dramas, out there.

From Arrowvideo.com:

In 1960, following on from the success of their collaboration on Some Like it Hot, director Billy Wilder (Ace in the Hole, Sunset Boulevard) reteamed with actor Jack Lemmon (The Odd Couple, Glengarry Glen Ross) for what many consider the pinnacle of their respective careers: The Apartment.

C.C. “Bud” Baxter (Lemmon) is a lowly Manhattan office drone with a lucrative sideline in renting out his apartment to adulterous company bosses and their mistresses. When Bud enters into a similar arrangement the firm’s personnel director, J.D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray, Double Indemnity), his career prospects begin to look up… and up. But when he discovers that Sheldrake’s mistress is Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine, Irma la Douce), the girl of his dreams, he finds himself forced to choose between his career and the woman he loves…

Winner of five Academy Awards®, including Best Picture, The Apartment features a wealth of Hollywood’s finest talent – on both sides of the camera – at the top of their game. By turns cynical, heart-warming and hilarious, Wilder’s masterpiece now shines like never before in this all-new, 4K-restored edition from Arrow Films.

This should not be a surprise, nor should be contentious, but Billy Wilder is one of the greatest Hollywood directors that ever lived. His film, Some Like it Hot, is on the BFI Top 50; four of his films, Sunset Boulevard, Some Like it Hot, Double Indemnity and this The Apartment, are the AFI Top 100; and he received seven Academy Awards. Whether or not he was easy to work with, or if you even life his movies, his output is a testament to his uncanny ability within the Hollywood system.

I don’t remember when I first watched this film, but I do remember loving it, and knowing everything that is going to happen, now, I seem to be just as shocked every time I’ve watch. Surrounded by so many great Hollywood film The Apartment is not a Muzak movie, it is something that always pulls me in and blinds me to whatever else may be happening around me, this is a valuable commodity since most of its contemporaries can easily be relegated to the background while I can complete day-to-day tasks.

Trying to pin down what elevates this film is a difficult task. On one hand is the super sexist and misogynistic and I can see how people can take offense and I can see why people may wish to exclude the film on that basis alone. I have no intension of defending that, it certainly works as a document to how women have been are treated in an office environment. This is why I can see a human resources employee breaking out in cold sweats while watching the movie. I probably would too, if I was a better person, but I was mesmerized by the charm of Shirley MacLaine.

On the other, the pairing of MacLaine and Jack Lemmon feels right. They just look like two people who deserve to be together, this, of course, is the conjuring of a properly executed romantic comedy. Every beat has its moment and it sticks each and every landing, well, most of them, one of the Fred MacMurray moments feels a bit wonky, but not enough to taint the film. Also, Fred MacMurray, the perfect Dad/scientist of my youth playing a, rather, slimy personnel director, is some inspired casting.

I love this movie. I want you to love this movie. This is Top 25 material.

Now, a little bit about this release. I know that Amazon had a little hiccup with their system, cancelling orders and ruining New Year’s Eves, but the release is well worth the head-ache. Technically it is beautiful, though I don’t remember the old release to really be bad, just with an aged look, but this new one, buddy boy, is impeccable. They include a special feature restoration reel so you can see what you may have never noticed before.

However, as special features go, part of the “New appreciation of the film and select scene commentary by film historian Philip Kemp” includes a key to this movie which I have never before considered and it may make for an interesting double feature. Apparently, when Wilder watched the David Lean / Noel Coward masterpiece Brief Encounter, in which an adulterous couple borrow a friend’s apartment, Wilder wondered how a movie would work from the point of view of the resident of the love nest. This is probably common knowledge, but I didn’t know about it.

This is a limited addition so picking will likely become slim sooner than later. The 150 page book which accompanies the film is neat but has probably already enjoyed its one opening. I definitely think you should add the film to your collection, and I would recommend you getting this edition, but, it is pricey and I get that, so waiting for a standard release from Arrow Academy may not hurt, but I still think you should get it if you can.

Special Features

  • 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

Director: 10 – Cinematography: 8 – Edit: 7 – Parity: 3 – Main performance: 10 – Else performance: 7 – Score: 10 – Sound: 9 – Story: 10 – Script: 10 – Effects: NA – Design: 9 – Costumes: 10 – Keeps interest: 10 – Lasting: 10

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