Everett Collection
Ari Karpel
January 29, 2008 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Apartment - Collector's Edition

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
runtime
125 minutes
performer
Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine
director
Billy Wilder
distributor
United Artists (MGM)
author
I.A.L. Diamond, Billy Wilder
genre
Romance, Comedy

We gave it an A

Sometimes audiences just don’t know what to make of films that are both serious and funny (witness: The Savages). Considering Billy Wilder’s The Apartment is ranked No. 20 on AFI’s 100 Years…100 Laughs list, you’d be forgiven for assuming it’s a comedy. Yet newcomers to 1960’s Best Picture Oscar winner — out in a new Collector’s Edition — might be shocked to discover it’s steeped in melancholy. C.C. ”Bud” Baxter (Jack Lemmon) has figured out how to succeed in business without really trying — by loaning out his bachelor pad for his bosses’ extramarital trysts. But the poor ”shnook” is actually selling his soul to America’s growing corporate machine. Wilder’s movie manages to be a scathing social satire and cautionary tale (the corporate lingo is prescient: ”preliminarywise,” ”manpowerwise”); a brilliant physical comedy (Lemmon’s tennis-racket-spaghetti-straining skills are superb); and a devastating romance between Baxter and Miss Kubelik (Shirley MacLaine). All of which makes Wilder’s masterpiece tough to take if you’re looking for a laugh riot. But thanks to film historian Bruce Block’s fact-packed commentary (note how Baxter’s wardrobe improves as he rises in the company ranks), a tribute to the late Lemmon, and a fascinating making-of doc, it’s easy to admire the director’s precision — the love theme here, the lonely-guy theme there — in blending drama and comedy. Altogether, a very satisfying experience — DVDwise. A

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