The Apartment Review and Bluray Features
16 Sep 1960
Behind the Scene and other Major Plot Points
Idea for the film..
Billy Wilder originally thought of the idea for the film after seeing Brief Encounter(1945) and wondering about the plight of a character unseen in that film. Shirley MacLaine was only given forty pages of the script because Wilder didn’t want her to know how the story would turn out. She thought it was because the script wasn’t finished.
According to Shirley MacLaine..
According to Shirley MacLaine on her official web site, much of the movie was written as filming progressed. The gin rummy game was added because at the time she was learning how to play the game from her friends in the Rat Pack. Likewise, when she started philosophizing about love during a lunch break one day, this was also added to the script.
To create the effect of large space
To create the effect of a vast sea of faces labouring grimly and impersonally at their desks in the huge insurance company office, designers Alexandre Trauner and Edward G. Boyle devised an interesting technique. Full-sized actors sat at the desks in the front and dwarfs were used at tiny desks toward the rear, followed by even smaller desks with cut-out figures operated by wires. It gave the effect of a much larger space than could have been achieved in the limited studio space.
Christmas Party Scene..
The office Christmas party scene was actually filmed on December 23, 1959, so as to catch everybody in the proper holiday mood. Billy Wilder filmed almost all of it on the first take, stating to an observer, “I wish it were always this easy. Today, I can just shout ‘action’ and stand back.”
Director’s use of “hooks”
Jack Lemmon said he learned much about filmmaking from Billy Wilder, particularly the director’s use of “hooks,” bits of business the audience remembers long after they’ve forgotten other aspects of the movie. One such hook was the passing of the key to Baxter’s apartment. Lemmon said for years after the picture’s release, people would come up to him and say, “Hey, Jack, can I have the key?”
Billy Wilder and his editor
Jack Lemmon related later in life how Billy Wilder kept his film editor, Doane Harrison, on the set with him at all times as associate producer and never made a shot until they both discussed it. As a result, he was able to shoot sparingly, cutting the film in the camera and eliminating costly set-ups that might never be used.
Jack Lemmon on his character,,
Jack Lemmon said of his character – “As I saw it, [Baxter] was ambitious; a nice guy but gullible, easily intimidated, and fast to excuse his behaviour. In the end, he changes because he faces up to having rationalized his morals. He realizes he’s been a dumb kid, he’s been had.”
Greatest Movie of all time
In 2007, the American Film Institute ranked this as the #80 Greatest Movie of All Time.
Rated as number 1 in Film 4’s ‘ 50 films to see before you die’.
Premiere voted this movie as one of “The 50 Greatest Comedies Of All Time” in 2006.
Included among the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die”, edited by Steven Schneider.
Was slapping really the prescription for overdosed patients back in the 1960s?
Depending on the time elapsed, the nature of the drug, and the amount of the drug taken, they may have pumped her stomach or given her known antidotes. However, the doctor was in an emergency situation, far from a hospital and probably not carrying an array of antidotes in his little black bag. His best option at the time was to keep Fran conscious. To do this, he slapped her face and made her respond to his questions. He fed her coffee and walked her around the room. It worked.
How does the movie end?
Sheldrake’s wife left him when she found out about his affairs, so he and Fran began a more exclusive relationship. When Sheldrake asks Baxter for his apartment key, Baxter refuses to give it to him. Sheldrake then tells Baxter that he can choose either to give him the key or to lose his job. Baxter quits and decides to move away. While Sheldrake and Fran are on a New Year’s date, Fran finds out about Baxter refusing to give the key to Sheldrake; she realizes that Baxter really loves her and she could eventually love him. She runs to his apartment, catches him before he moves out, and they finish their gin game. Shut up and deal!
RT/Meta Critic Review
With tremendous performances by the two leads (Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine), this is yet another “must see” title to be found on Wilder’s resume.(Click here to see)
Just beautiful. Shot by Joseph LaShelle, the DP best known for his work on Otto Preminger’s noir films Laura and Fallen Angel, The Apartment distinguishes itself from other comedies of the day with a black and white widescreen image that’s rich and shadowy. MGM has definitely done LaShelle’s cinematography justice here, giving us a completely satisfying 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer. To start, the print is very nearly immaculate; you’ll notice a few scattered white specks–very few–but otherwise the image is exceptionally clean. Not scrubbed, but naturally clean. There are no signs of excessive noise reduction or edge enhancement, and the 35mm grain structure is visible and fine. The monochromatic tonal balance is just about perfect too. Blacks are deep without crushing detail, whites are bright but not overblown, and there’s a wide spectrum of grays in between. There’s also a significant bump in clarity from previous standard definition releases–everything is tighter, more refined, better detailed, from the clothing and facial textures to the swank, Mad Men-inspiring 1960s interior design.
The Apartment originally featured single-channel audio, but for this Blu-ray release, MGM has subtly expanded the mono mix into a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track. Don’t worry, purists; there’s nothing here that now sounds jolting or out-of-place. In fact, there’s hardly any rear- speaker engagement at all. The mix is still anchored firmly up front, with the surround channels really only helping to give Adolph Deutsch’s romantic score some breathing room. The music sounds wonderful–clear and full and not tinny at all–and in all other respects, this mix is exactly what you’d expect from a turn-of-the-1960s romantic comedy, with minimal ambient effects and prioritized dialog. The audio is fairly clean–no distracting hisses, pops, or splice crackles–and nicely balanced. Set your receiver to your normal listening level, and you won’t have to touch the volume for the rest of the film. The disc also includes Spanish and French Dolby Digital 2.0 mono dubs, along with optional English SDH, Spanish, and French subtitles, which appear in easy-to-read white lettering.
- Commentary with Film Historian Bruce Block: Block occasionally falls into the habit of repeating what’s happening onscreen–as if we can’t see it–but otherwise, this is a great commentary track, filled with informative making-of stories, cast anecdotes, and bits of trivia.
- Inside The Apartment (SD, 29:36): A wonderful half-hour special that puts The Apartment in the context of history and Billy Wilder’s career. Includes interviews with Shirley MacLaine, Chris Lemmon–Jack Lemmon’s son–and a number of film historians.
- Magic Time – The Art of Jack Lemmon (SD, 12:47): Chris Lemmon discusses the life and career of his inimitable father.
- Theatrical Trailer (1080p, 2:19