Classic Wilder-but not classic treatment for the DVD
Stephen Reginald | Chicago, IL United States | 09/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Apartment is an insightful movie made by one of cinema's most talented directors. The plot is fairly simple, but C.C. Baxter's (Jack Lemmon) is anything but. By innocently lending out his apartment to a coworker, Baxter's residence becomes the love nest for his philandering colleagues. Along the way, Baxter develops a friendship with Fran Kubelik (Shirley Maclaine), one of several attractive female elevator operators. Baxter is rewarded for his generosity by getting promoted by Jeff D. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray). Little does he realize that Fran is Sheldrake's latest plaything. The Apartment has all that you expect from the best of Wilder: great performances, witty dialogue, and a plot that holds to this day, even if most of the depiction of the corporate office environment has changed dramatically (When was the last time you saw an elevator operator?). The three stars provide great characterizations, with MacMurray the real surprise here playing against type. This film is also notable for solidifying the Wilder/Lemmon team. With The Apartment, Lemmon was no longer playing second male leads or supporting roles. A worthwhile film that is still enjoyable today, but the DVD version leaves much to be desired. The picture quality is good, but the looping (the sound synchronization) is off and very distracting. Don't know the reason for this, but considering this film's place in cinema history, I would have thought it would have gotten the A treatment. The DVD is a disappointment."
A Very Nearly Perfect Film
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 08/06/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Most people consider Billy Wilder's best film to be SOME LIKE IT HOT, but while I love that movie, THE APARTMENT has not only been my favorite Billy Wilder film ever, but one of my favorite movies, period. Few movies have managed to blend together so many tragic, humorous, and romantic elements so completely and so well.Over the years I had managed to see THE APARTMENT five or six times. Each time I had seen it either as a TV broadcast film or on VHS. Therefore, I had never seen it in widescreen format. Seeing it for the first time in its widescreen version brought the film home with greater power than ever. What a great movie!The acting in this movie is utterly beyond reproach. In my opinion, this was Jack Lemmon's finest role. It is impossible to imagine anyone else playing C. C. Baxter. Cast anyone else in that role, and you have a lesser film. Although Fred MacMurray today is primarily remembered for his role on MY THREE SONS, he was also a highly capable villain, and he was never nastier than he was here. Shirley MacLaine was never more adorable than as Fran Kubelik. Unbelievably, she lost the Oscar that year to Elizabeth Taylor (for BUTTERFIELD 8. Although no one today would compare either Taylor's performance to MacLaine's in THE APARTMENT, at the time of the voting Taylor was seriously ill and appeared to be in danger of dying. Unfortunately, from time to time Oscars are awarded less on merit of performance, but for other reasons. For instance, in 1940, Jimmy Stewart won the Oscar for THE PHILADELPHIA STORY primarily because voters felt bad that he hadn't won the previous year for MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON. But Stewart's winning meant that one of the greatest performances in the history of American cinema, Henry Fonda's portrayal of Tom Joad in THE GRAPES OF WRATH, was not recognized with an Oscar. (Far from being cutthroat competitors, Fonda and Stewart were best friends.) In the spring of 1961, Elizabeth Taylor's health apparently was a greater factor than Shirley MacLaine's much stronger performance.Having seen this movie several times, what strikes me is how many memorable though apparently everyday moments remain vivid over time: Jack Lemmon using a tennis racket as a spaghetti strainer; the way that Lemmon quickly rifles through cards on his desk; the game of cards that Baxter and Kubelik play in his apartment while she recovers; the toothpicks and olives arranged in a circle in a bar; the quirks and mannerisms of each of Baxter's immediate superiors; Lemmon starting to shave only to realize that he had earlier removed and hidden the blades in his razor.I don't buy many DVDs or videos, but I bought this one the second that I saw that it was available in widescreen."
Stay At The Apartment
Thomas Magnum | NJ, USA | 12/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The Apartment is Billy Wilder's satirical look at office politics and the Man In The Grey Flannel Suit. Jack Lemmon stars as C.C. Baxter, a lowly office clerk in a huge corporation who is just another faceless working bee in an endless row of desks. When Baxter starts lending his apartment to executives in his firm so they can take their mistresses there, he finds himself moving up the corporate ladder. Although the constant loaning of his apartment starts to be an inconvenience, he keeps doing it as makes sense business wise. In meantime, he meets Fran, an elevator operator in his building, who is involved in affair with the big man in corporation, J.D. Sheldrake, played by Fred MacMurray. Mr. MacMurray is outstanding playing against type as the lascivious lowlife boss and philanderer (although is played another unscrupulous character quite well in The Caine Mutiny). Ms. MacLaine is excellent as the morose Fran who brings the situation between Baxter, Sheldrake and herself to head when she tries to commit suicide. Baxter must decide between his integrity and his career. Mr. Wilder masterfully fills the film with laughs and heart and his look at corporate politics is sharp and incisive. For his efforts, he yet again had a triple win at the Oscars, taking the 1960 Best Director, Screenwriting & Picture awards. The Apartment was also the last black & white film to win the Best Picture Oscar until Schindler's List (which has some elements of color) won in 1993."