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The Arrangement

3.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Kirk Douglas and Faye Dunaway in master moviemaker Elia Kazan's hard-hitting story about an adman's attempts to rebuild his shattered life after suffering a nervous breakdown. Year: 1969 Director: Elia Kazan Starring: Kirk Douglas, Faye Dunaway, Deborah Kerr

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During the grim, glum cacophony of images and sounds that constitutes the first few minutes of The Arrangement, a self-loathing advertising wizard (Kirk Douglas) with a stultifying marriage and a career focused on selling "Zephyr, The Clean Cigarette!" impulsively hits upon a spectacular method of committing suicide. Viewers would have been spared two hours of further flailing if he'd succeeded. Instead we get a combination psychodrama and Bildungsroman--at once crashingly obvious and fragmented to the point of incoherence--that attempts to frame the betrayal of the American Dream through the guilty/proud machismo, professional frustrations, and oppressive ethnic heritage of a very unappealing guy.

At least credit writer-director Elia Kazan, adapting his own bestselling novel, with honesty: the guy is, essentially, he himself. The once-great filmmaker hoped to reunite with Marlon Brando on the project; he wound up with Douglas, whose career-long image was the guy with the indomitable spirit no matter what ("I'm Spartacus!"). But dismay over Douglas's miscasting--which led to the miscasting of Faye Dunaway in a mistress role based on and intended for Barbara Loden--doesn't excuse the total mishmash. Scenes begin in the middle or break off without warning; some characters are introduced portentously, then abandoned or beaten as one-note Symbols. The technique is a mélange of ugly, puerile effects, including still photos absurdly sprung to life and a daydream sequence studded with BIFF! BAM! POW! comic-book titles. There's even a desperate dive into self-quotation, a snippet of Kazan's 1963 America America to establish that a character barely seen in The Arrangement is the aged version of the youthful protagonist of that exultant masterpiece.

For the record, the cast includes Deborah Kerr as Douglas's wife and Richard Boone as his terminally Old World dad. They didn't deserve to come off as badly as they do. --Richard T. Jameson


Special Features

  • Vintage featurette "A New Lifestyle"
  • Original theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Kirk Douglas, Faye Dunaway, Deborah Kerr, Richard Boone, Hume Cronyn
  • Directors: Elia Kazan
  • Writers: Elia Kazan
  • Producers: Elia Kazan, Charles H. Maguire
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Subtitled, Widescreen, Anamorphic, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 30, 2007
  • Run Time: 125 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JP4I
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,031 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Arrangement" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on August 26, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Although director Elia Kazan ultimately failed in this uneven if brilliant attempt to bring his best-selling semi-autobiographical novel to the screen, it is a wonderful sociological portrait of a man driven to the edge of madness and despair by what material and career success does to his soul. Kirk Douglas is terrific as Eddie Anderson, the deeply conflicted Greek-American second-generation crossover who buys into the pursuit of American business success and now feels as though his talent and creativity have been totally corrupted and squandered in pursuit of the bitch goddess of success. He has it all, money, sex, and power, and all the toys and accessories such material success means. But his life is increasingly ashes in his mouth, a bitter, lonely, empty and unfulfilling existence that is literally driving Eddie insane.
We watch enraptured as he plunges head-first into a disastrous mid-life crisis, spiraling dangerously down the slippery slope toward madness and involuntary commitment, until slowly and painfully he begins to figure out what is wrong and how to fix it, although all this is obviously done at an amazingly hurtful and angst-filled cost to himself and his loved ones. Deborah Kerr co-stars as his loving but also self-concerned and controlling wife, and Faye Dunaway turns in a compelling performance as the insightful and sarcastic love interest who draws him out of his mid-life diversions and makes him see how expensive his sell-out has been to the real Eddie underneath all the glitz and glamour.
They say this movie had it all in the can, but that somehow author/producer/director Elia Kazan blew it all by cutting and editing it terribly, leaving it disjointed and hard-to-follow.
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Format: VHS Tape
In short, this movie shows how a man who's succesful and rich but lives in a permanent lie suddenly cracks up -in a very healthy way- and starts from scratch to re-evaluate his life: his job, his feelings toward his wife, his father, his lover. The confrontation between the establishment and someone who just wants to "live" -as he puts it- is brilliantly depicted. Elia Kazan's genius is very clear here. Very good acting from Kirk Douglas, Faye Dunaway and Deborah Kerr. I found interesting similarities between this movie and Peter Weir's Fearless.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
"The Arrangement" (1968) is a late film directed by famed director Elia Kazan based on his recent novel then that was a bestseller. Like the movie it was it was more critically panned but popular, and obviously autobiographical. Still, one does not really "get" Kirk Douglas's problem as the lead. He is an ad exec who would rather face suicide than come to terms with his frustrations with himself nor give up his marriage to the "perfect wife" played very well by Deborah Kerr, even though she is really rather cardboard. He is part of the lifeblood to a rather shallow, at that time feminism was becoming important, so it figures we would have Faye Dunaway play "the girl," not playing in a man's world, but very much destroyed because "Eddie" won't leave his wife. Those closest to him resist his choices. At the time it was released, there were a number of films that played into this scenario of a triangle with a much younger woman, but this was old Hollywood spinning a Hollywood tale through the thinly veiled autobiographical aspect which was really a misnomer. Richard Boone excels as the Greek immigrant father succumbing to paranoia in old age and an engine for much of what causes this "arrangement." Really much better than it sounds narrowed down, but Kazan's self-analysis is too weakly constructed. Photographed by Robert Surtees, with music by David Amram. From Warner Bros. in Technicolor and Panavision. The DVD has a small making of anecdote and a trailer. Only for Kazan completists.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The Arrangement (Warner Bros., 1969) was director Elia Kazan's seventeenth film.

Eddie Anderson (Kirk Douglas) is an advertising executive living a comfortable, upper middle class lifestyle with his proper and fleshy wife, Florence (Deborah Kerr), in a charming California home complete with in-ground pool. But Eddie hates his life and attempts suicide. While recovering, Eddie has flashbacks of his successful but unsatisfying career and of his young, sassy, always-braless mistress, Gwen (Faye Dunaway), who goaded him to follow his desires. Eddie reluctantly returns to the job he hates but ends up buzzing the company offices with his private plane.

As Florence wonders what the hell is going on with her husband, Eddie is summoned to New York City to be with his ailing father, Sam Arness (Richard Boone). Eddie visits Gwen, who also happens to live in New York with her baby, and doesn't give a damn that she has a boyfriend. Meanwhile, Florence chases Eddie to New York to keep close tabs on her unpredictable husband.

Eddie sneaks his father out of the hospital in the middle of the night and brings him back to the family home. The old Greek is suffering from dementia and asks Eddie to take him to the bank for a loan to restart his rug business. At the house, Eddie has flashbacks of his domineering father and Frances walks in on her husband and Gwen in flagrante delicto.

The family commits Sam to a nursing home and Eddie walks in on a meeting with Florence and her lawyer, Arthur (Hume Cronyn), as they draw up divorce papers. Eddie is arrested after setting fire to the family home and being shot by Gwen's jealous boyfriend. Eddie is committed to a mental institution where he's satisfied to stay but Gwen prods him into leaving.
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