Written and directed by Elia Kazan (A Face in the Crowd), The Arrangement, released in 1969, was based on his own bestselling novel of the same name. Having read Kazan’s A Life, it quickly becomes clear that Kazan saw something of himself in the film’s protagonist, Eddie Anderson, a high-flying advertising executive. So, perhaps he’s to be forgiven for failing to realize that Eddie is a rather self-centered, largely uninteresting guy.
Portrayed by Kirk Douglas (2 Weeks in Another Town) with all the grit and drama he can muster, Eddie is a man in his mid- forties who appears to have it all: good job, good wife, shiny kids and a little fun on the side. In exchange for this, ‘arrangement,’ if he keeps his bosses happy and his wife well appointed, the bills will be paid, and a blind eye turned toward his indiscretions. It’s a deal Eddie is willing to make until a mid-life crisis hits him like a Mack truck (those who’ve seen the film, forgive me for the bad joke).
As the film begins, the catalyst for this crisis has already left the scene. Gwen (Faye Dunaway, Network) a co-worker at the advertising firm, was so young and naturally sexy, it’s easy to see how Eddie could lose his mind. Gwen’s no dumb blonde. She pushed him to change. Leave his wife; quit his job and become a person he actually wants to be. When he couldn’t do it, she left him for another man. Left with only the flashbacks of his passionate if trouble relationship with Gwen, Eddie decides to free himself of the obligations that cost him the relationship, while his wife (Deborah Kerr, An Affair to Remember), psychiatrist (Harold Gould, Rhoda) and family lawyer (a sleazy Hume Cronyn, Cocoon) all try to get him back in the box he was in, and from which they all are benefiting.
And so, Eddie attempts to escape. On a road trip to visit his dying, immigrant father, Sam, (Richard Boone). A successful merchant, Eddie’s father fought with his wife over his sons education. Sam wanted him to take over the family business, but mother sent him to college instead. Despite simmering tensions, Eddie is the one Sam wants to see. As luck would have it, this puts him in the direct path of Gwen, as he goes on what might be best referred to as a journey of self-discovery, 1969 style.
Always one to push the envelope, Kazan took full advantage of the changing moral landscape and relaxed censorship code in The Arrangement. I was surprised at how much nudity is on display. While tastefully done, Kirk Douglas, Faye Dunaway and Deborah Kerr all disprove at different points in the film. While complaints can be made about an occasionally awkward script and performances turned up to 11, there are moments worth remembering. Deborah Kerr shines as she and Kirk Douglas, a married couple, discuss their intimate life and act on it. It’s frank, adult and real.
The Arrangement is far too self-indulgent to be considered a major work in the Kazan cannon. However, he does elicit some fine moments from the cast. Fans of Elia Kazan who have never seen The Arrangement, should definitely give it a look.
Presented in the 2.35 :1 aspect ratio, this is a solid looking standard definition transfer. Colors are fairly sharp and bright throughout, with little on the way of debris or scratches.
The Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack offers a clean audio experience, with clear, concise dialogue throughout. English subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- A New Lifestyle (6:15) A vintage featurette that includes some behind-the-scenes footage.
The Arrangement (1969)
Movie title: The Arrangement
Director(s): Elia Kazan
Actor(s): Kirk Douglas, Faye Dunaway , Deborah Kerr , Richard Boone , Hume Cronyn , Harold Gould