Saturday, 16 December 2017

The Apartment (1960)

"Classic Billy Wilder Gets the 4K Treatment"

Billy Wilder's Oscar-winning (Best Film, Director, Screenplay, Art Direction, Editing) and Oscar-nominated (Leading Actor, Leading Actress, Supporting Actor, Cinematography, Sound) 1960 'comedy drama' gets a sparkling 4k transfer from Arrow Academy packed with extras.

New York 1959. CC 'Bud' Baxter (Jack Lemmon) works at an insurance company. His plan to get promoted is unusual, novel, and immoral: he loans out his apartment to four of his bosses to use on a rotating basis for their extramarital affairs. Sweet on elevator operator Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), Bud's life starts to fall apart when the firm's personnel director, J D Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray, who surprisingly didn't get an Oscar nod amongst all the others), reveals he wants to use Bud's apartment to rekindle his affair with her.

They really don't make them like THE APARTMENT any more. Perhaps they never did. What starts off as a comedy with an apparently morally dubious tone quickly becomes a measured study of human beings and the mistakes that they make. The cast weave their way through the screenplay's light and dark, the humorous and the deadly serious. Wilder's expert direction manages just the right balance between playfulness and melodrama that's all the more remarkable considering the subject matter.

Arrow's 4k transfer of THE APARTMENT is a crisp delight. Aside from what looks like a hair in the gate at around the 100 minute mark the image is as perfect as can be. Film producer and historian Bruce Block offers a commentary track, and there's a new video essay by David Cairns on the collaborations between Wilder and Lemmon. Cairns also provides an overview of Billy Wilder's career.

You also get a 30 minute making of featurette from 2007, and an archive profile of Jack Lemmon from the same year. Film historian Philip Kemp provides a new select scene commentary and appreciation of the film, and there's a trailer and newly commissioned artwork. 

Finally (and very impressively) you get a 150 page as part of the package featuring new writing on the film by Neil Sinyard, Travis Crawford, Kat Ellinger and Heather Hyche. 

Billy Wilder's THE APARTMENT is out on Blu-ray from Arrow Academy on Monday 18th December 2017

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