That’s C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon), a dedicated office monkey for a Manhattan insurance company. For years, he’s loaned out his apartment to coworkers in need of a quickie with their mistresses. While they’re inside, he paces the sidewalk--five colds a year isn’t so bad if there are promotions at the other end.
Word on Baxter’s key gets up to the 27th floor, where honcho J.D. Sheldrake’s (Fred MacMurray) office is. A copy of the key is almost guaranteed to land Baxter an executive gig with his own office and windows. Problem is, Sheldrake needs the apartment for his former/current flame, elevator girl Fran Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine), who Baxter thinks to be the best thing going--girl-wise.
There is a distinct difference between Baxter and Sheldrake, other than how they earned their pay raises: Sheldrake sees Fran as a toy, something he can toss money at and train to come back whenever he whistles; and Baxter sees her as sensitive, a perfect gin rummy partner he absolutely adores. The plays of power, passion and vulnerability between the three characters is one of the finest dynamics that Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond ever crafted, though it was no doubt excelled by Lemmon, MacMurray and MacLaine.
Fresh off of Some Like it Hot, Wilder and Diamond perhaps knew it wise to shy away from another all-out comedy/love story. Not to say that there aren’t terrific lines (MacLaine’s “Shut up and deal” rivals Joe E. Brown’s “Nobody’s perfect”) and a great romance, but infidelity and suicide are inarguably much darker ideas than cross-dressing and a ukulele-playing Monroe.
The Apartment (1960), shot in gorgeous black and white by Joseph LaShelle, was Wilder and Diamond’s third screenplay together, after Love in the Afternoon (1957) and Some Like it Hot (1959). They collaborated for another 20 years, penning such films as One, Two, Three (1961), Kiss Me, Stupid (1964) and The Fortune Cookie (1966). But The Apartment, which won five Oscars (including those for the screenplay, its director and the picture itself), remains their best work together.
It is also Wilder’s most human film, a complete and flawless mesh of drama, comedy and romance. It remains one of the all-time greats--movie-wise.
Audio: English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio; Spanish Mono; French Mono. Subtitles in English, Spanish and French.
Shot by Joseph LaShelle, The Apartment is one of the best-photographed widescreen black-and-white films, and so MGM had a lot of cinephiles expecting a gorgeous high-definition transfer. Without hesitation, it can be said that this is a superb 1080p presentation and does justice to LaShelle’s work. While grain remains intact (as it should), the picture is cleaned up to look as good as ever.
Dialogue is clear and audible throughout the film, allowing each line to come through the speakers without any disturbance. The major draw to this transfer, though, is Adolph Deutsch’s score, which has never sounded finer on home video.