Courtesy: Arrow Academy/Arrow Films/Arrow Video
Romantic comedies, dramas and dramedies nowadays are not exactly the cream of the crop. From one to the next, they center on the boy meets girl-loses her-gets her back in the end storyline with far too many similarities from one to the next. Even the execution of the stories far too often mirror one another, even while some movies are more light-hearted than others and vice versa. Keeping that in mind, having an original entry in that field come along is always welcome. Enter United Artists’ 1960 dramedy The Apartment. Starring a laundry list of now famed actors including Jack Lemmon, Shirley Maclaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston and others, this heartfelt romantic dramedy is a true classic that every classic film buff should own, especially in its new re-issue from Arrow Academy. The movie’s limited edition re-issue is a must have in part because it is a brand new opportunity to experience a story that is just as relevant today as it was more than 50 years ago when it originally premiered. This will be discussed shortly. Lead star Jack Lemmon’s work on camera also makes the movie so entertaining. It will be discussed later. The bonus material included in this new re-issue rounds out the most important of its elements. Each item is important in its own way to the movie’s presentation, as will be explained through this review. All things considered, they make Arrow Academy’s recent re-issue of The Apartment more proof that re-issues are just as valuable for movie lovers as the prequels, sequels, reboots and over-the-top biopics that flood theaters today.
Arrow Academy’s recently released re-issue of United Artists’ 1960 Jack Lemmon romantic dramedy The Apartment is a must have for any true classic movie buff. It is one more example of why re-issues are just as important as viewing options as the prequels, sequels, reboots and over-the-top biopics that flood theaters today. That is proven in part through the story at the center of the movie. The story centers on Lemmon’s character, C.C. Baxter as he tries to work his way up the corporate ladder by letting his superiors use his apartment for their illicit romantic trysts. As he proceeds, he eventually grows as a person and finally grows a spine, standing up to them (specifically to J.D. Sheldrake–played by Fred MacMurray (The Absent Minded Professor, Son of Flubber) ) and making his own way. To that end, it is a classic underdog story. Here is a man who just wants to make it, but has had to sacrifice his own dignity in order to do so. When he finally stands up to Sheldrake, He finally comes out on top, just in an unexpected fashion. That unexpected ending is another part of what makes the story so interesting. It won’t be revealed here, for the sake of those who haven’t yet seen the movie.
While it is, at its heart, a warm, entertaining underdog story, it is also a statement about corporate America; a statement that the culture that has for so long been accepted within that world, must change. As is noted in the bonus commentary (which will be discussed later), this is critical because this movie came along during the age of McCarthyism, yet still didn’t land director and co-writer Billy Wilder on Hollywood’s black list. Considering the ongoing discussions about the “Me Too” and “Time’s Up” movements going on right now, this element of the story becomes that much more critical to its whole. It makes even more so, the story overall just as relevant today as it was in its 1960 premiere (nearly 60 years ago). That is a very telling statement. When this element is coupled with the story’s more heartfelt, fun underdog story, the whole of those elements make the overall story a tale that insures audiences’ entertainment and engagement from beginning to end. Of course, the story is only one key part of what makes this movie so entertaining so many decades after its original premiere. Lead star Jack Lemmon’s work on camera plays its own critical part here, too.
Lemmon’s work is so important to note in examining this movie because it is so entertaining in its own right. This movie, as audiences learn in the bonus content, was only the second time that Lemmon and Wilder had worked together. The first time was only a year prior in 1959’s Some Like It Hot. Audiences see a lot of similarity in his portrayal of Baxter to that of Jerry (from the prior flick). In the same breath, one can also argue that Lemmon’s take on Baxter here also could be where he got the inspiration for Felix Unger in The Odd Couple, which interestingly would not come along for another eight years after The Apartment. A close side-by-side comparison of those portrayals would seem to hint at that considering Baxter’s at times semi neurotic behavior. The general sympathetic, underdog persona adds to the strength of that comparison. Of course, as audiences learn in the bonus material (again, this will be discussed later), this was nothing new for Lemmon by this time. To that end, maybe Felix’s character wasn’t influenced by Baxter, but it’s interesting to consider the similarities regardless. Either way, Lemmon’s take on Baxter is so entertaining that audiences will agree it is just as much of a strong point in this movie’s presentation as the story itself. It is of course still not the last of the movie’s most important elements. The bonus material that is included with the movie’s new re-issue rounds out the most important of its elements.
The bonus material included in the movie’s re-issue is extensive to say the very least. There is an archived one-on-one interview with Wilder from the Film Writers Guild in which Wilder talks film theory and how it related to how he helmed The Apartment. It comes complete with an audio introduction from Lemmon. Also included in the bonus material is an interview with Hope Holiday, who played Margie McDougall in which she shares her story of how she actually ended up in the movie almost by chance. The tears of joy that Holiday sheds as she shares her story make the story all the more engaging. That is because they are clearly not crocodile tears. She really is so thankful to have been able to have been in the movie. As if all of this isn’t enough, the bonus feature-length commentary reveals its own share of interesting information. For example, audiences learn through that commentary that Fred MacMurray was not the original actor who portrayed Sheldrake. As a matter of fact, it turns out that he was under contract to Disney when he was called to replace the original actor who played Sheldrake, and was not exactly in favor of playing a character such as Sheldrake because of the characters he was playing for Disney. Obviously he ended up being convinced to play Sheldrake, and the rest (as the adage states) is history. The commentary also reveals that the scene in which Baxter had a cold was very real. He in fact had a cold when the scene in question was filmed. There is also discussion on the anti-capitalist themes presented in the movie and how Wilder and co-writer I.A.L. Diamond surprisingly got away with putting them into the movie without being black listed. This adds its own insight into the movie. Between all of this, the commentary about Wilder’s distaste for television (and the contradiction thereof since he hired a bunch of television actors for his leads), and so much more, it becomes wholly clear why the bonus material included in The Apartment‘s new re-issue is so critical to its overall presentation. It adds just as much — if not more — to the re-issue’s presentation as the movie’s story and Lemmon’s acting. When all three of those elements are considered together, they make this movie a work that should be in any true classic movie buff’s movie library, and a work that shows once more that re-issues are just as important for audiences as all of the prequels, sequels, reboots and biopics out there today.
Arrow Academy’s recent re-issue of The Apartment is a presentation that belongs in the home library of any true classic movie buff. That is because it is a re-issue done right. From the movie’s look and sound to its very story alongside Lemmon’s acting to the bonus material included this time, there is so much done right here. All things considered, this re-issue shows that re-issues are just as important as viewing options for audiences as the new theatrical offerings out there today. It is available now and can be ordered online direct via Arrow Academy’s online store. More information on The Apartment and other titles from Arrow Academy is available online now at:
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