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Featured Blu-ray Review: The Apartment

February 3rd, 2012

The Apartment - Blu-ray - Buy from Amazon

The Apartment came out on Blu-ray a couple weeks ago, maybe. I received an offer to review the Blu-ray, I jumped at the chance, but then the link said, "Sign up to be notified when this item becomes available." However, I got a screener in the mail anyway, so maybe this is just an issue with Amazon, one that they will clear up shortly. In the meantime, how is the movie? And how is its Blu-ray debut.

The Movie

The film begins with Calvin Clifford Baxter (He says people call him Bud, but mostly its Baxter.) giving facts about New York, like the population and how far they would stretch, as well as facts about the company he works for, Consolidated Life, a very large insurance company. He works as one of hundreds of office drones. It's a good job and the pay is okay, but he normally has to work late. This is not because he's got too much to do or that he's gunning for a big promotion. It's because of his apartment. Not department, but apartment. It's a great apartment and perfect for a bachelor, which he is. Unfortunately, his managers are not, but they like to live the bachelor lifestyle and use his apartment for their rendezvouses.

He's not exactly happy with the situation (he practically spends more time at work dealing with the apartment schedule than he does doing his job) but he's not one to complain. Also, he's not happy that his neighbors think he's the one bringing home a different strange woman every night, sometimes more than one a night, but he's not willing to make a fuss about that either. He does get something out of the arrangement, namely they give him rave reviews in his performance reviews to the personnel director, Mr. Jeff D. Sheldrake. He might be on the fast track for upper management. He gets so excited when he's called up to Mr. Sheldrake's office, that he asks the elevator lady, Fran Kubelik, out on a date. Unfortunately, C. C. Baxter is unaware of two things.

Firstly, Mr. Jeff D. Sheldrake is smart enough to see through these impressive performance reviews and immediately realizes there's something up. Mr. Sheldrake is able to get Baxter to confess to his apartment sharing scheme. At first Baxter thinks he's going to get fired and swears he'll never lend out his apartment to anyone every again. However, that's not what Mr. Sheldrake was getting at. He in fact wants to use the apartment, tonight, with his mistress. This brings us to the second point Mr. Baxter is unaware of, Fran Kubelik is Mr. Sheldrake's mistress.

Up till this point, the film is a very funny romantic comedy with excellent performances from the three main leads. It has a great hook with the plot set up to force C. C. Baxter to either stand up to his boss and try and win over the woman of his dreams, or continue up the corporate ladder. However, while it has everything the film needs for a simple, but very effective romantic comedy, the film takes a darker and more dramatic turn later on. (No details, as they are way too far into spoiler territory.) While this is what turns the film from a good movie into an Oscar-worthy movie, you should be warned about this in advance, because if you go in expecting a lighthearted comedy, the change in tone halfway through the movie is more than a little jarring. On the other hand, that's the only real complaint I think can be leveled at the film. Althought, one could argue that Baxter is such a doormat letting his bosses walk all over him that it is hard to be sympathetic to his plight.

The writing is excellent, as is the directing, while it is no surprise that both Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine earned Oscar nominations. If you've never seen it, it is worth a blind buy.

The Extras

Unfortunately, the Blu-ray is shovelware. Things start with an audio commentary by Bruce Block, a film historian. Like many solo tracks, there's a problem with energy, but there are some good behind-the-scenes tidbits given here and there. Inside the Apartment is a 30-minute featurette that looks at The Apartment and how it fits into Billy Wilder's career. Finally, Magic Time: The Art of Jack Lemmon is a 13-minute look at the career of Jack Lemmon.

For a film that's more than 50 years old, it looks and sounds amazing. There's hardly any print damage, the grain is never excessive, nor is it obliterated with DNR. The level of detail is excellent and the contrast is very strong. The audio is not showy, but the film was originally made in Mono, so that's no surprise there. The dialogue is always clear, while there's very little separation for the channels. It occasionally shows its age, but there are never any problems that are distracting.

The Verdict

The Apartment is a must have. It's never looked or sounded better on the home market than it does on Blu-ray. I would have loved to see a lot of new extras on the Blu-ray, but it is till worth getting for the high definition treatment.

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Filed under: Video Review, The Apartment