Plot: What’s it about?
C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) is one face in his company’s some 30,000 employees. To rise above the cream and get to the top, one usually has to work for years to finally be recognized as more than just a “face in the crowd”. Baxter has found another way. It seems that just over a year ago, Baxter lent the key to his apartment to a friend of his who was about to “score” after the company Christmas party. Well, word got around and now four of the company’s executives are all taking turns using his apartment, regardless of day of the week or time. Baxter has a problem with this, of course, but he has been promised to not be “looked over” when certain changes in personnel are made; and thus, this makes it all bearable. The men use his apartment time and time again, even making Baxter write their appointments down in a calendar and it’s up to him to make sure all of their appointments coincide. And what’s even more of a slap in the face is the fact that his neighbor, Dr. Dreyfuss (Jack Kruchen) thinks that Baxter is the one getting all of the action!
Eventually, word gets around to the Director, Mr. Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray). Sheldrake is the man in charge of Personnel and when he’s consulting Baxter about the apartment, he becomes a “customer” as well. Much to Baxter’s surprise, Sheldrake’s mistress is an elevator clerk by the name of Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but Baxter has a thing for Miss Kubelik and it conflicts with his ethics when he finds out that Kubelik and Sheldrake are having an affair. To add more fuel to the fire, Kubelik is actually in love with Sheldrake, but has little knowledge that he has no intention of leaving his wife for her. This leads to the eventual attempted suicide by Fran when she takes half a bottle of sleeping pills. Meanwhile, Baxter has not been overlooked at his company, he has been promoted to 2nd Administrative Assistant and now has a nice corner office overlooking the hundreds of desks in which he once worked.
The Apartment is a movie that can be best described as a comedy, but it tackles some very serious issues. Mainly adultery. Consider the fact that this movie came out over 40 years ago, and you had a controversial piece of film on your hands. Then again, leave it to Billy Wilder to bring out the best performances in the three lead actors. While The Apartment might seem tame compared to today’s standards, it was a great hit at the time. In our world of “business casual” at the office, calling the executives by their first names and such, this was a reflection back to the days when people wore suits to the office, arrived and left at the sound of a bell and called their boss (which were all men, by the way) as Mr. so and so. Just because a movie is old, doesn’t mean it can’t be good or make you think. A question of morals is just a big of a deal now as it was back then and The Apartment makes you think twice as to “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”!
Video: How does it look?
Somewhat of a rarity for MGM, they have actually presented an older catalog title (of which they have thousands) in a great-looking 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer. At the time (1960), movies were making the leap to color and widescreen was still a relatively new thing. I’m proud to say that The Apartment looks great on DVD. There are some minor scratches here and there and during the opening sequence, white spots do tend to kind of take over, but once the movie gets going, I was hard-pressed to find any major fault with the transfer. Some of the scenes look astonishing, while others seem to suffer from a bit of edge enhancement. Still, for a movie this old, to look this good is a great reason to get movies on this format. While not perfect, it looks a lot better than most of the film’s of the era. Great job.
Audio: How does it sound?
The included mono track is nothing to crow about, as mono certainly has it’s limitations. For the most part, it sounds very good, but the occasional “scratch” in the track was a bit distracting and some scenes sounded a bit low. Naturally, none of the other speakers were used, but the center channel does a good job at replicating how the movie must have originally sounded when it came out. There’s not a whole lot else to say, it sounds as good as it ever has and while mono has it’s limitations, this DVD does the best possible job at re-creating the audio mix.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Sadly, there isn’t any extra here except a theatrical trailer that appears to be in full screen, but it has most of the words cut off. The trailer isn’t anamorphic and the quality is very poor (much poorer than the actual film itself). Hopefully MGM will do this film right in the future with tons of supplements; but as for now, a trailer is all you’ll get.