(2001) - MGM
by Graham Greenlee of The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/C/D
Specs and Features
125 mins, NR, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, RSDL dual layered (layer switch at ???), Amaray keep
case packaging, original theatrical trailer, film-themed menu
screens, scene access (16 chapters), languages: English, French and
Spanish (2.0 Mono), subtitles: French and Spanish
the way it crumbles... Cookie-wise."
Billy Wilder's The Apartment
is an odd movie. The lead character loans out his apartment every
evening so his bosses can have extra-marital affairs, and he hopes
that it might get him promoted. The building's elevator operator is
having an affair with a man she knows is married, and tries to
commit suicide. But despite the obviously "appealing"
description, The Apartment is
one of the greatest romantic movies ever made, and, in my opinion,
Billy Wilder's best film.
Jack Lemmon is C.C. "Bud" Baxter, an insurance salesman
who gets a completely undeserved promotion from the head of
personnel (Fred MacMurray), when he loans out the key to his
apartment for his boss's extra-martial affair. Bud doesn't know who
it is and doesn't care to know either. He'd rather keep his mind on
the cute Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), whom he sees in the
elevator every day. But every advance he makes towards Fran is
ignored, and Bud can't understand why. Can you guess that Fran is
the on-the-side girl for Bud's boss?
The Apartment excels on our
liking these characters in spite of their ugly sides. Both Lemmon
and MacLaine's performances are filled with charm. And it certainly
can't hurt that they're speaking words from Billy Wilder and I.A.L.
But there are plenty of romantic films that are cute enough,
working because both of the stars are likeable (see just about any
Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts comedy). The
Apartment is set apart from the normal romantic fodder
because it's not afraid to show warts and all. Not only are the
characters multi-dimensional, the film also has some moments that
are pretty uneasy to watch. There is a long section, about an hour
and fifteen minutes-or-so into the film, where Bud struggles to keep
Fran awake after she overdoses on sleeping pills.
At the center of it, The Apartment
is not necessarily about love, unrequited or not. Rather, I think it
suggests that the traditional concept of love is one that doesn't
really work today. It's better to find companionship with someone
you can get along with, than to chase a dream of love because some
guy/girl is good-looking or successful. It's a new kind of love. I
think that it's the most hopeful kind, which is why I think
The Apartment is one of the
most hopeful films ever made, and why it rests as one of the
greatest romantic comedies.
MGM has done a good job preserving this classic for DVD. This print
is about as clean is its going to get. The colors (or rather the
gray-scale) are sharp. Film grain only pops up here and there. There
is some artifacting in the image at times, where the camera moves
quickly, and there is some haloing from the edge enhancement. It's
obviously not a perfect picture, but this was the first time I had a
chance to see this film in it's original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, and it
looked just great for a 40-year-old film.
The video is accompanied by the original mono track, presented as
two-channel mono. The fidelity is good and dialogue is presented
understandably. But it is mono, so it's not surrounding whatsoever.
And the ADR is very noticeable, mostly due to the recording
techniques at the time. But, again, it's a big step above my VCR
In terms of extras, all you'll find is the trailer back from 1960.
It's rather bland and grainy (for the life of me, I don't know why
studios don't preserve their trailers).
The Apartment is on the AFI
lists for the top 100 movies, the top 100 comedies and the top 100
romances. It's a film that's stood up so well, that it feels as
fresh now as it must have back in 1960.