82 of 91 people found the following review helpful
on September 3, 2002
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.
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
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.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 29, 1999
This is not only one of the best romantic comedies ever made, it's one of the best films ever made, period. The screenplay structure is airtight and impeccable (expect nothing less from Billy Wilder), but the most interesting thing to me about it is that, even though the movie works as an essentially dialogue driven film, Wilder never neglects his duties as a visual artist. Every composition in this film is as beautiful as the dialogue is punchy. So much so that to watch this film without the letterbox would be a crime. Billy Wilder is a cinematic genius and The Apartment works as yet another piece of proof to that fact.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on April 20, 2003
Legendary director, Billy Wilder?s "The Apartment" is one of those little jabs of tawdry pleasure that crop up every once in a while. It?s the tale of an overworked office jockey, C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) who wants so desperately to gain access to the executive suite that he starts renting out his apartment to company executives that are having affairs with their secretaries. Baxter?s shy repartee with elevator operator, Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine) seems promising enough for an office romance of his own. That is, until Baxter learns that Fran is in love with his boss, Jeff Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray). However, when Fran accepts that her affair with Jeff can go nowhere because he refuses to divorce his wife, she begins to realize her night in shining armor might not come with a key to the executive washroom, but is genuine and good for her nevertheless.
MGM DVD has done a below average job of remastering this DVD. The 2:35:1 anamorphic picture exhibits overly harsh, digital characteristics that are wholly unflattering. Though the gray scale is well balanced, offering fine detail, there are excessive amounts of shimmering, edge enhancement and aliasing throughout. Shadow delineation and contrast levels during the night scenes are poorly rendered. The soundtrack is mono and strident. There are no extras.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
When watching `The Apartment' I expected something completely different. I expected something outlandish and slapstick and more in the vein of `The Odd Couple' and I think that because I really had no idea what this movie was about. I didn't bother reading the back of the DVD case because I knew I wanted to see it based on its reputation alone. Why spoil the surprise, and so I brought it home and popped it in and here I am now, writing my review of one of the best comedies I've ever seen.
The reason `The Apartment' is so great is because it is extremely smart. It's funny, sure, but in an honest and believable manner. It's witty and original and the chemistry between the stars Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine is effortless.
The story is not a simple one to explain without giving too much away, and I hate giving too much away so I will attempt this the best I can. Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, a junior accountant for a New York City firm, who found an interesting way of climbing the corporate ladder. Baxter (of `Buddy Boy' as he is called by his workmates) lends out his apartment to the married men he works with who want to entertain their extramarital flings without their wives knowledge. This act leads to some confusion among those living in Baxter's building, garners him a bad reputation and proves to be quite the inconvenience to him, but professionally he is `moving on up'. Then he meets the beautiful Fran Kubelik and things look as though they might move in the right direction socially for him as well; but there are still a few roadblocks he must maneuver through before he's home free.
Jack Lemmon is irresistibly charming here. His `loser' Baxter is endearing to the viewer. When Fran asks why she can't fall in love with a man like him you are just jumping at the bit to convince her that he is the man for her. Shirley MacLaine is also great as Fran, truly mysterious but in a compelling way. She's sweet and charming and naturally and genuinely relatable. Fred MacMurray is fantastic as Sheldrake, Baxter's boss. He's got this genuine charm that aids to his manipulative nature and gives him a sense of reality. He is so real. Jack Kruschen is also great as Dr. Dreyfuss, but I would have nominated MacMurray over him if it were up to me.
`The Apartment' is a charming movie that is funny but one cannot overlook its dramatic air. There is a lot in this film that is `no laughing matter' so-to-speak, for it deals with some very serious subjects such as infidelity and suicide. Thankfully writer/director Billy Wilder approaches this with candor and grace, delivering a serious film that, while not making light of the subject, manages to infuse enough honest humor to make it utterly enjoyable.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
That question has been asked since this movie was released. Is it a drama with comic undertones or a comedy with dramatic overtones? I don't know. I do know that the Academy "got it right" when they made this the Best Picture of 1960. Wilder's genius in seeing the humor of everyday life and how it helps us continue living is fully developed in this movie. The principals experience the triumph of humor over pain. While this may not be a feel good film, "Shut up and deal." is an excellent battle cry.
How realistic is the movie? Very! The office is Met Life in New York. Yes, this is office work prior to the introduction of computers. No one thought the conditions were bad and Met Life was thought to be an excellent employer. There is no law about sexual harassment and the term MCP has not been coined. I say this to show how realistic the film is and how sure the portrayals are.
The cast is great! Jack Lemmon is a sure-footed as ever. He is the rising young white-collar worker determined to secure every advantage and promotion. Smitten by Shirley MacLaine, Lemmon proceeds in a stumbling bumbling comic courtship of the unattainable. Fred MacMurray breaks out of his good guy image with an outstanding performance as a bully and womanizer.
This is one of Wilder's best films and one of the few must see movies in existence. While not a funny comfortable film, it is thought provoking and enjoyable.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
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.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Every great film seems to have a correspondingly memorable soundtrack. "The Apartment" has always been one of my favorite movies and partly for that reason - the experience was elevated to even greater heights by it's hauntingly beautiful music; something unusual in sound and sight that combines forever in the memory.
Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine are both terrific in their roles of two lonely and slightly insecure people who work together at the same company. He is working his way up the political ladder in an unorthodox way by lending out his apartment to those whom he knows can help him and it's turning him into a nervous wreck. She has committed the age-old blunder of becoming embroiled with a married man, and her boss to boot. And there they are, right under each other's noses, two people meant for each other with a passel of pressing problems to work out first, not the least of which is simply opening the eyes.
"The Apartment" has joined the ranks of enduring classics because it is one of those rare films that possesses all of the essential elements; unusual twist to an ageless story, enchanting soundtrack, splendid casting, talented directing.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 6, 2002
In "The Apartment", Jack Lemmon gets to showcase and stretch his acting ability like in no other movie, and that's why it's my favorite Lemmon flick. Being a mixture of comedy and drama, we get to see Lemmon's raw talent and the ease at which he is able to accommodate the requirements of a given scene.
The 60's N.Y city setting is the perfect backdrop for Lemmon's attempt to climb up the ladder of success, by allowing his "higher-up" co-workers at the insurance company where they work access to his apartment for their various trysts and affairs. While the whole thing started as more or less an accident, Lemmon ("C.C. Baxter") puts up with the many inconveniences of the arrangement because he quickly sees the value ("business-wise", that is) of his beneficent behavior. And it seems to pay off when he finally receives a promotion, only to discover that his new boss ("Mr. Sheldrake", played by Fred MacMurray) also wants in on the apartment "action". The plot then thickens when Lemmon begins to fall for an elevator operator (Shirley MacLaine) who happens to be the girl that Sheldrake is having an affair with.....
The storyline moves quickly so there is never a boring moment and the viewer easily becomes sympathetic to Baxter, who ultimately must make the "career vs. integrity" decision. As the movie continues, the funny lines and scenes (and they are top-notch) diminish somewhat and the more poignant moments surface - Lemmon is equally at home in both worlds. MacMurray as "the villain" works surprisingly well, and although I am not a Shirley MacLaine fan, she is excellent in this movie.
The DVD quality is very good and far surpasses my old VHS copy, plus it's in wide screen format.
Directed by Billy Wilder. The black and white works exceptionally well, creating an ironic sense of isolation and despair in the ever-bustling and often humorous world of unstoppable human.....progress? Not only my favorite Lemmon movie, but one of my favorite movies period, and one I watch 2 or 3 times each year. Highly recommended.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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 Collector's Edition in 2008. It was then released as part of "The Billy Wilder DVD Collection" which contains nine DVD's back in 2003 and then another Billy Wilder DVD Film Collection featuring four DVD's in 2008. The version of "The Apartment" that I am reviewing is the version that came with the 2003 DVD box set and is the same release that came out in 2001.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"The Apartment" is featured in 16:9 Widescreen (2:35:1 aspect ratio). For the most part, the film looks very good on DVD. I am told that the 2008 "Collector's Edition" release is much better and I can only hope that Fox releases a Blu-ray version of the film in 1080p High Definition. But for this release, there are dust particles that can be seen throughout the film. It's not distracting unless you are focusing on it but for the most part, the film looks very good for a film 50-years-old.
As for the audio, the film is presented in English, French and Spanish Mono. I know that the 2008 DVD release features both a 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround Sound and stereo version of the film. But you do get the original monaural soundtrack and for those with newer home theater receivers, can definitely enjoy this film with setting the audio to stereo on all channels for a more immersive soundtrack if needed.
Subtitles are in French and Spanish. English is only via closed caption.
This version of "The Apartment" on DVD only comes with the original theatrical trailer.
"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 definitely would recommend the 2008 Collector's Edition of "The Apartment" mainly because its a new transfer and the DVD contains many special features. But it's so easy to be a fan of Billy Wilder's work that you probably will want to purchase his box sets. If you can find the nine DVD box set for cheap (I paid $29 which is remarkably cheap for the DVD set over the Christmas holiday week), then definitely get that version. Otherwise, there is a four DVD box set available as well and since it was released in 2008, includes the collector's edition of "The Apartment".
"The Apartment" is highly recommended!