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The Oscar-winning Billy Wilder classic is as witty and charming as ever on its Blu-ray debut....
Fox / 125 Minutes / 1960 / Unrated / Street Date: January 24, 2012
Upon revisiting The Apartment on Blu-ray, it became apparent to me why this 1960 film remains so many cineastes' favorite Billy Wilder film. I still prefer the gritty hyper-speak of Sunset Boulevard or Double Indemnity, but The Apartment has been able to maintain a comfy niche for itself in the hearts and minds of younger viewers because, in part, it bridges the old-fashioned craftsmanship of mid-century Hollywood with a distinctly youthful narrative elan.
Eschewing the kind of histrionic mannerisms that continually make some modern viewers incapable of successfully enjoying films of its era, The Apartment plays as being both old and new, as rambunctious and steadfast. Fusing the jazzy on-screen chemistry between Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine with a dramatic theme that all but laments the reliability of a romantic society where girls just stay with their fellas because they 'should', The Apartment tackles multiple topics and themes, and ends up hitting homers out of many of them.
In the picture, we have Jack Lemmon as an insurance clerk desperate to find some sort of release from the humdrum factory monotony of his job. An opportunity to do so comes from an odd opportunity: He starts offering up his centrally-located apartment to higher-ups who want to spend some 'quality time' with the mistresses they're nervous showing off around town. And when MacLaine shows up at said flat - an object of his boss' affection - things really take a turn for the complex.
The Apartment has a saccharine ending that discounts the often scathing social satire of its juicier moments, but what literally teems off of this Blu-ray edition is just how multifaceted the picture is. Not exactly a comedy and definitely not devoutly serious, The Apartment has a cinematic syntax and language all its own. Both a figurehead of Wilder's old-Hollywood filmmaking prowess and a harbinger of more salacious sex comedies that would follow the film a couple years later, The Apartment remains a curious, adorable representation of Wilder's instantly identifiable storytelling powers.