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The Apartment: Collector’s Edition (J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 26, 2012 by  



Featuring a wonderful performance by Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.  A timeless classic that is witty, fun and deserving of every Academy Award it has won.  “The Apartment” is a magnificent film that is worth the upgrade to Blu-ray and should be in every movie fan’s cinema collection.  Recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1960 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios.  All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Apartment

FILM RELEASE: 1960

DURATION: 125 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:35:1, English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish Mono, French Mono, Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY:MGM/20th Century fox

RATED: Not Rated

RELEASE DATE: January 24, 2012

Directed by Billy Wilder

Written by Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond

Produced by Billy Wilder

Associate Produced by I.A.L. Diamond, Doane Harrison

Music by Adolph Deutsch

Cinematography by Joseph LaShelle

Edited by Daniel Mandell

Art Direction by Alexandre Trauner

Set Decoration by Edward G. Boyle

Starring:

Jack Lemmon as C.C. Baxter

Shirley MacLaine as Fran Kubelik

Fred MacMurray as Jeff D. Sheldrake

Ray Walston as Joe Dobisch

Jack Kruschen as Dr. Dreyfuss

David Lewis as Al Kirkeby

Hope Holiday as Mrs. Margie MacDougall

Joan Shawlee as Sylvia

Naomi Stevens as Mrs. Mildred Dreyfuss

Johnny Seven as Karl Matuschka

Joyce Jameson as The Blonde

William Waterman as Mr. Vanderhoff

David White as Mr. Eichelberger

Edie Adams as Miss Olsen

Winner* of five 1960 Academy Awards®, including Best Picture, The Apartment is legendary writer/director Billy Wilder at his scathing, satirical best, and one of “the finest comedies Hollywood has turned out” (Newsweek). C.C. “Bud” Baxter (Jack Lemmon) knows the way to success in business…it’s through the door of his apartment! By providing a perfect hideaway for philandering bosses, the ambitious young employee reaps a series of undeserved promotions. But when Bud lends the key to big boss J.D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray), he not only advances his career, but his own love life as well.

Featuring a wonderful performance by Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine.  A timeless classic that is witty, fun and deserving of every Academy Award it has won.  “The Apartment” is a magnificent film that is highly recommended!

The 1960 comedy/drama written and directed by Billy Wilder (“Sunset Blvd.”, “Sabrina”, “Some Like It Hot”, “Kiss Me Stupid”) and co-written with I.A.L. Diamond (“Some Like It Hot”, “Kiss Me, Stupid”, “The Fortune Cookie”) was an incredible success in the box office grossing $25 million and nominated for ten Academy Awards and winning five including “Best Picture”.  In fact, “The Apartment” was the last black and white to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.

The film received many awards from BAFTA and the Golden Globes and is often featured in various cinema magazines in polls for “Greatest Films”.  The film has been part of American Film Institute’s top 100 polls and also was deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant” by the United States Library of Congress and selected for preservation in the National Film Registry.

But the film had its fair share of criticism.  Because of the film’s nature of infidelity and adultery, where films at the time were typically promoted as wholesome entertainment, the film although regarded as a classic and received positive reviews also received its fair share of detractors because of the film’s content.

“The Apartment” was released on DVD back in 2001, followed by a Bily Wilder 2003 DVD Box set release which featured the 2001 DVD release.  A better upgraded restored version via a Collector’s Edition, was released in 2008.  And here we are now with “The Apartment: Collector’s Edition” on Blu-ray (note: same special features as the 2008 release are included on this Blu-ray but now the film is presented in HD).

“The Apartment” revolves around the character C.C. “Bud” Baxter (played by Jack Lemmon, “Some Like It Hot”, “The Odd Couple”, “The Fortune Cookie”, “Avanti!”).  An office employee who works for an insurance company in New York City but if there is one thing that makes him different from the 30,000+ employees from the company is that his superiors are quite fond of him.

Reason being is that when the several of the bosses at the insurance company need to have a sexual liasons (without their wives knowing), they depend on Baxter to give them a key to his apartment.  In fact, it’s so bad that Baxter has to schedule days for these individuals to have his apartment, often leaving Baxter getting kicked out of his office.  But these men have vowed to give Baxter a great performance review and hopefully have him rise the ranks of the corporate world from where he is at.

But things are not all that good for Baxter. He’s a lonely man, living a simple life.  His landlord and his neighbors are upset with him (often because of the ruckus his bosses are making with their women) and blame him for all the noise.  But if there was one thing that makes him happy, it’s the elevator operator Miss Fran Kubelik (played by Shirley MacLaine, “Ima La Douce”, “Shirley’s World”, “Terms of Endearment”) who he is smitten with.

One day while at work, the big boss J.D. Sheldrake (played by Fred MacMurray, “My Three Sons”, “My Shaggy Dog”, “The Oregon Trail”) has called a meeting with Baxter.  Baxter who thinks he is getting a promotion (because of his other bosses giving him a good word) is actually being grilled for his suspicious activities and then tells Baxter that he knows about the key he is giving to his bosses.  It appears that Sheldrake also wants the key for his adulterous affair and Baxter agrees to help him.  Meanwhile, in return Sheldrake offers him tickets to a musical.

Happy that he has scored points with the big boss, Baxter asks Miss Kubelik out on a date to the musical which she agrees to the date but she tells him that she is meeting another man earlier that night and will meet with him before the show stars.  What Baxter doesn’t know is the woman that Mr. Sheldrake is having an affair with is Miss Kubelik.

But what happens when circumstances force Baxter and Kubelik to spend time together in his apartment?

VIDEO:

“The Apartment” is featured in 16:9 Widescreen (2:35:1 aspect ratio) and in black and white.  Having owned the previous DVD releases, I do feel that the Blu-ray release of “The Apartment: Collector’s Edition”utilizes the same restoration but now upgraded to HD.  Black levels are nice and deep, good amount of grain and one thing I noticed much more than previous DVD releases is the amount of detail, especially on skin and surfaces.  There is a bit of white specks that show up but nothing like the older 2001 DVD release.

For the most part, I was quite pleased with this upgrade, no major flickering, no compression artifacts, it’s a pretty good transfer and definitely worth the upgrade from DVD to Blu-ray.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

As for the lossless audio track, the film is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio and Spanish and French Mono.  The film is primarily front and center channel driven but dialogue is clear and I didn’t hear any hiss or crackling for this older film. Surround channels are pretty much used too add more depth to Adolphe Deutsch’s wonderful musical score.

It’s important to note that for cinema purists who are wondering if a lossless monaural soundtrack is included, unfortunately the English monaural track is not, only Spanish and French. Still, the lossless soundtrack sounds very good and I didn’t have any problems with it.

 

 

Subtitles are in English SDH, Spanish and French.

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Apartment” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary from Film Producer and Historian Bruce Block – A really in-depth audio commentary by film historian Bruce Block.
  • Inside the Apartment – (29:36) A wonderful featurette about Billy Wilder and his film “The Apartment” featuring interviews with Shirley MacLaine, Hope Holiday, Johnny Seven and more discussing the making of “The Apartment” and working with Billy Wilder.
  • Magic Time: The Art of Jack Lemmon – (12:42) Chris Lemmon talks about his father, the late Jack Lemmon.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:19)  The original theatrical trailer for “The Apartment”

“The Apartment” is a fantastic film!

“The Apartment” is well-written, acting is fantastic and for the most part, editing and pacing is well-done.  There is nothing I can fault about the film.  At first, I felt that a romantic comedy film being over 2 hrs. long could be a bit too much but in the sake of this film, each and every minute was well-utilized.  Jack Lemmon gave a commanding performance and Shirley MacLaine was fantastic as well.  But shocking was Fred MacMurray’s adulterous role as the actor who has appeared in many kindhearted, fatherly roles was playing such a character.

Billy Wilder does an incredible job by working with the talent, especially with Jack Lemmon when it came to the script but also the small improvisation details, from him having a cold, gags such as shooting his nose drop across the office, making spaghetti and singing.  It’s also important to note that the scene where Lemmon was hit in the film, he was hit in real life and Wilder chose to use the scene.

Because of its content dealing with adultery, also suicide and the fact the film stars Fred MacMurray, I could imagine how controversial this film was back in 1960.  Especially reading how MacMurray even received an older woman hitting him with her purse when she saw him.

Although a classic film, for me wanting to see “The Apartment” came from watching the UK film “Brief Encounter” directed by David Lean.  I’ve read that in that film which featured one of the main characters wanting to use his friend’s apartment gave Billy Wilder the idea for the film but also a real life Hollywood scandal involving agent Jennings Lang and producer Walter Wanger (husband of actress Joan Bennett) in which the affair took place in an employee’s apartment and a suicide attempt came from an actual incident involving a friend of writer I.A.L. Diamond.

“The Apartment” has instantly become one of my top films that I have seen in my lifetime.  A good balance of comedy but also drama that takes on topics that probably made people uneasy during that time.

I know a lot of people who are fans of “The Apartment” may have owned the 2008 Collector’s Edition of “The Apartment” and also may have owned the older DVD release via stand-alone or the various Billy Wilder DVD box sets, but what it comes down to is your love for this film and if you want to see and hear it in the best quality possible.  There is no denying that when the 2008 DVD “Collector’s Edition” came out, it was a major upgrade from the 2001 DVD release, and while this 2012 Blu-ray release features the same special features (and now comes with the theatrical trailer), for me, it’s about the picture quality and how much more detail is evident compared to that 2008 DVD release.

Overall, although I wish “The Apartment: Collector’s Edition” on Blu-ray had newer special features, still…it’s hard to complain because the special features that were added in 2008 were great and definitely better than having a barebones release like the previous DVD releases.  But I absolute love this film,  it is possibly my favorite Jack Lemmon film and ranks high among the many Billy Wilder films that I have watched.

No doubt about it, this Blu-ray release of “The Apartment” is highly recommended!






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