DVD Review: Billy Wilder's 'The Apartment'

Another great black-and-white classic gets the Blu-ray treatment, and the visual difference between this and the older DVD release is pretty obvious. (The sound, however, is just adequate; maybe it couldn't be upgraded.)

Billy Wilder's “The Apartment” was a huge hit; it also won Oscars for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay, Art Design and Editing. (Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine were nominated and should have won; Fred MacMurray, in one of his greatest performances, didn't even get nominated.) Together with its immediate predecessor, “Some Like It Hot,” it represented the apex of Wilder's reputation. It's an odd entry in his filmography, not quite a comedy, not quite a straight drama. Its less cynical tone probably came from I.A.L. Diamond, one of Wilder's two greatest writing partners.

The disc has three supplements. “Inside The Apartment” is a half-hour retrospective look at the movie's creation, with appearances from Robert Osborne, producer Walter Mirisch, Paul “Son of I.A.L.” Diamond, Chris “Son of Jack” Lemmon, critic Molly Haskell and several biographers. “Magic Time: The Art of Jack Lemmon” (12:47) takes a too-brief look at the film's male lead. A commentary track from film historian Bruce Block accompanies the feature; it's well-researched without being dryly academic, and is marred only by some strange mispronunciations of names.

(MGM Home Entertainment, Blu-ray, $24.99; DVD, $14.98)

-- Andy Klein

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