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A sense of peace in a world of chaos
golightly0027 February 2001
Deborah Kerr reportedly stopped doing movies after 1969 (even though she took film roles much later in life) because she no longer felt comfortable with the direction that the movie industry was going. After seeing "The Arrangement", I no longer question her sensitivity to the turbulent themes, language, and cinematography that was coming of age in the late 60's. On the surface, the film epitomizes many of the psychedelic themes of the era, from rampant flash-backs to cartoonized exclamations, such as "Bam!" and "Kerbloom!" splashing across the screen in bright neon colors. Beneath this, however, is the intensely challenging story of a man who wakes up one morning to discover that he detests the person that he has become. Kirk Douglas's Eddie Anderson will send chills up your spine as you watch him evolve from a successful advertising executive with the perfect house, the perfect job, and the perfect arrangement of both a wife and several mistresses, into a tormented, weakened man who despises himself enough to attempt suicide but believes in life enough not to carry through completely. His metamorphosis belies the chaotic style of the film; even though the erratic cinematography attempts to reflect his inner turmoil, the sense of peace that settles onto his face as the film progresses reveals that the reality of Eddie's mind is less insane than the reality of the world outside. He begins to see beyond the pretentions and fears that engulf the world around him and that had once turned him into a heartless executive,willing to convince consumers that cigarettes are good for them rather than lose a multi-million dollar client. Everyone around him, with the exception of Faye Dunaway, worships the "almighty dollar," and Eddie's release from this self-made prison allows him to make peace with himself, even as he makes enemies all around himself. Faye Dunaway is stunning and provocative as the insolent "office slut" who restores Eddie's faith in himself, ironically, by pointing out his flaws. In fact, she delivers what is possibly the most believable performance in the entire film, because her character, the strong, opinionated woman who accepts no sympathy for her decisions and weaknesses, has survived this tumultuous period much better than the character of say, the 60's housewife who desires nothing more than a maid, a swimming pool, and a wealthy husband. Deborah Kerr fills the role of Eddie's uncomprehending wife to perfection, even though anyone who has seen her in more flattering roles, as in her performance as Karen Holmes in "From Here to Eternity", won't be able to watch her portrayal of Florence Anderson without crying inwardly for the lost beauty of her earlier roles. Kerr is certainly ravishing in this film, despite the fruity-peach lipstick and the fluffy-headed hairstyle inflicted on her by the makeup department, but the uncertainty and bitterness that she plays to perfection in "The Arrangement" contrast sharply with the delicate mixture of sincerity and self-confidence that she exhibits in most of her early work. If you have not yet seen this film, make sure to read the book first. Elia Kazan's unique and personal style will illuminate the his meaning much more than any stylized cinematography could hope to. After reading the book, however, make sure to see the film, if only to admire the fine performances of the actors and to identify with the characters on a more immediate level. And, of course, just to watch the ever beautiful Deborah Kerr work her magic...
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An admirable failure.
nfaust13 August 2006
Not classic Kazan, for sure, but not a total failure either. Was lucky enough to see the film in Paris a few years ago on the big screen. Was struck by Kazan's attempt to break free from the well made play structure he'd so successfully mined in the past. The linear story, though, won out, making the film uneven and stylistically self conscience. But even so, what a marvelous failure. Kirk Douglas, in Kazan's opinion may not have filled Brando's shoes, but, my god, he tried. Dramatically speaking, the film is exploring a state of mind; the character played my Douglas remains, for the most part, in a very static position throughout. Douglas never allows the stain of self pity to disfigure his action. Sitting still, thinking, we see in Douglas a man pulsating with anger, remorse, and the need to act. It's a valiant and satisfying performance even though, like the film itself, we're more aware of what it's reaching for than what it actually holds. The performance, though, that really struck me as being brave and bold is the one given by Deborah Kerr. She's the wife, and she has a lengthy scene late in the film where she and Douglas stray into the intimate area of their married life. Sexually frank and mature, the scene alone is worth the entire film. These two characters discuss intimacy, and then act on it, in a way I've never seen in a film. Kerr was one of the most adventurous actresses of her day; a truly great talent. She gives Kazan the raw, unguarded kind of performance one usually associates with Liv Ullman in her Bergman films.
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Too brilliant and personal and meaningful to ignore
secondtake25 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
The Arrangement (1969)

You might say this movie is about a very successful man coming to realize his success means nothing in the big picture and all he wants is time to be himself, to enjoy life simply.

Or you might say this is a movie about a man cheating on his wife with a younger woman and all the fallout that goes with that.

Or you might say this is a psychoanalytical dive inward to a man realizing he was ruined by his parents and trapped by his wife, and he descent into introspection makes him go almost mad, and then mad. And he likes it that way.

You might even say this is an exercise in narrative storytelling, with a virtuosic layering and intercutting of all these elements into a single highly complex tale.

Kirk Douglas is the lynchpin to all of this, and The Arrangement, a masterpiece if there ever was one, is the merging of art-house cinema with mainstream Hollywood. Except that there was no real art-house movie scene in 1969. This film pushes the boundaries as hard as they could be and still survive at all as a mainstream release. Director Elia Kazan is certainly one of the greats of the era (Scorsese agrees here) and he went out on a limb with editor Stefan Arnsten to make something utterly unique. There are foreshadowings of Woody Allen (though without humor) and Six Feet Under (in the kind of surrealism created by editing and the changing presence of people in a single scene).

The plot is also intensely personal. Kazan, born in Istanbul and brought to American when he was four, was the son of Greek immigrants and his father was actually a rug merchant. And Kazan was apparently having an affair at the time of the shooting (he remarried in 1969 and later had a child). The screenplay is Kazan's and it's based a 1967 novel, also by Kazan.

So if this is a deeply felt movie about a man having a mid-life crisis, it's understandable. Is it overwrought and self-indulgent? It has that potential for viewers who don't connect with the style or the characters, but for me it was too honest and well made to brush off. I got sucked in and was mesmerized by the swirling, teetering effects that never let you get confused or out of control.
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A depiction of affluent suburbia being dominated by doubts
dataconflossmoor22 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
The main character Eddie Anderson (Kirk Douglas) attains the American dream and is torn asunder by a mid-life crisis which he drags everyone he knows into...He seeks refuge by way of his mistress Gwen (Faye Dunaway)....attempting to remember a relationship with a woman being that of love and mutual respect....As their relationship lingers, it gravitates into anonymous sordid sexual encounter, no matter how hard both of them try to change this...The fact that they are between a rock and a hard place only intensifies their apprehensions and their fragile paranoia...His wife Florence Anderson (Deborah Kerr) realizes that their marriage is not going in the right direction, but she categorizes everything as being irrational whether it is or it is not..She is perceived by all as being the perfect housewife, but Eddie knows better and she resents him for this.....She cannot give of herself emotionally because her perception of marriage is one whereby the husband and wife share bank accounts but not their primal fears!!! In an attempt to make some sense of his life, Eddie tries to get closer to his father...His father is embittered and disgruntled with the monumental disappointments in his life, and he spends his final days trying to plea his son Eddie to offer him excuses...Eddie does not do this, and finally, Eddie's father passes away with Eddie knowing no more about him than he ever did...All he could feel for his father is recrimination and pity.....This compelling film points out an aspect of human behavior that most films fail to do....that is the human element of non-change....All of the characters in this movie are stalemated by despondence and arctic desolation....The acting the director ELIA KAZAN/ON THE WATERFRONT, AND THE PROLIFIC AND BITTERLY CANDID STORYLINE ALL A PERFECT 10...THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST FILMS I HAVE EVER SEEN!!
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A sorrowfully neglected cinematic achievement
gts-318 March 2001
In recent years I have come to reevaluate most of Elia Kazan´s films. "A Streetcar Named Desire" (1951) looks more and more the stagebound it is and belongs rather to its actors than to its director. "On the Waterfront" first of all is an elaborated excuse for informing (something Kazan had done some years earlier in front of the HUAC). "America, America" (1963) is the sort of tale immigrants who have made it tend to tell at family gatherings over and over again. On the other hand "Panic in the Streets" (1950) now emerges as a powerful thriller about paranoia. "The Visitors" (1972) - more or less a home movie - is a painfully depiction of America´s guilt with regard to the Vietnam War and as such much ahead of its time (most certainly much ahead of Brian De Palma´s "Casualties of War" (1988), that tells are rather similar story). The most astonishing film being "The Arrangement" (1969), a film that has been dismissed that often as a downright bomb that this verdict was taken for granted for a very long time. Well, it´s high time for a change.

"The Arrangement" deals with an advertising executive´s alienation from his job, his family, his world and even from himself. This Eddie Anderson is one of Kirk Douglas´s most touching and least mannered performances. He manages to keep the audience interested in a guy who is lost in almost every sense of the word. A gripping psychodrama, a film for adults and therefore out of place even at a time when traditional Hollywood was blown away by America´s very own New Wave. "The Arrangement" may at times annoy you, but it won´t insult your intelligence for even that long as a second. Cudos to the director, Kirk Douglas and both Richard Boone and Deborah Kerr who gave two performances to crown their already sterling careers. Faye Dunaway, by the way, has never before and never since been that erotic on screen.
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Arrange To See, The Arrangement
angelsunchained7 January 2006
Just resaw this movie after 36 years. All I could remember from the first time I saw this film at age 11 was the car crash. Anyhow, outstanding acting by all involved. However, the movie is stolen by the powerful and emotional performance of Faye Dunaway. Miss Dunaway is stunning, both physically and emotionally. She grits her teeth and gives one of her most intense and raw performances. The film however, has a sad and depressing flip to it; the American Dream turned into a nightmare. Made in the last 1960s, to most young viewers this Elia Kazan masterpiece probably seems a weird and strange ride. However, for children of the 60s, this movie captures the "Nature of the Beast" which was 1969.

The Arrangement is outstanding.
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A Film Whose Time Has Come.
thataw4 April 2007
Panned and patronized at the time of it's initial release, Elia Kazan's adaptation of his best selling book THE ARRANGEMENT plays much better now than it did in 1969. Made after a 6 year hiatus from film-making at a time when movies were enjoying unheard of freedom due to the demise of the production code, THE ARRANGEMENT clearly shows that Kazan was still a director to be reckoned with. The basic premise was nothing new. A highly successful businessman (Kirk Douglas) suffers a mid-life crisis and attempts suicide. How he and the other characters deal with the aftermath make up the rest of the story. Kazan has always been an actor's director and the film provides a showcase for the young Faye Dunaway as Douglas' mistress who gets him to reexamine his life but wants out to be with someone else. Deborah Kerr in her last major film appearance is superb in the difficult role of the wife who tries to understand what Douglas is going through but doesn't want to give up the rich lifestyle she's become accustomed to. Strong support is given by Hume Cronyn as the family solicitor who has plans of his own and from Richard Boone in a rare non-Western role as Douglas' ailing father. His slide into dementia is both heartbreaking and terrifying. Marlon Brando had originally agreed to play the lead but bowed out allowing Kirk Douglas who really wanted to work with Kazan to step in. While not stage trained like the other principals, he acquits himself well in an emotionally as opposed to a physically demanding role. The combination of raw emotions, alternating points-of-view including black humor, and touches of surrealism was ambitious then and still is today (think American BEAUTY). The movie is not without its flaws. It runs too long and is occasionally sloppy in everything from editing to make-up but the powerful writing and intense performances make THE ARRANGEMENT provocative film-making nearly 40 years later. Called everything from a harrowing emotional ride to a self-indulgent mess, it is ultimately for the home viewer to decide (my rating indicates where I stand). Kazan will always be a controversial figure because of his HUAC testimony in the 1950's but his greatness as a director cannot be denied and remains captured on film for all to see.
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THE ARRANGEMENT (Elia Kazan, 1969) ***
Bunuel19761 April 2006
Adapted by Kazan from his own novel, this ambitious if little-seen (at least in my neck of the woods) character drama emerges as an absorbing and highly personal adult piece, but one which is also pretty heavy-going and somewhat uneven in quality. Still, the director elicits excellent performances from his entire cast (with the star trio baring more than their souls in front of the cameras); Kirk Douglas is particularly impressive in one of his most interesting roles (certainly at this stage of his career, here playing the son of Richard Boone who, in real-life, is actually a year younger than Douglas!)...though Kazan, in his autobiography, seemed unhappy with having to make do with him over his first choice, Marlon Brando. It's strange that he hadn't thought of Douglas immediately to personify his alter ego on screen, since both had been immigrants and the actor would therefore have an instant connection with the character; actually, I feel that Brando's brooding intensity - as opposed to Douglas' dynamic hysterics - would have worn the film down even more than it already is...and, in any case, Marlon got to do his "mid-life crisis act" three years later in LAST TANGO IN Paris (1972)!

What is essentially an old-fashioned melodrama, particularly given the lack of young actors involved, it's brought up-to-date - and, one might say, to life - by a variety of cinematic tricks (which sometimes exasperate the spectator, as if Kazan had gone through one too many viewings of Richard Lester's strikingly similar PETULIA [1968]!): multiple flashbacks and fantasy sequences (Douglas has visions of mistress Faye Dunaway everywhere, and even has her morphing into wife Deborah Kerr during a love scene); we also get visualizations of his interior monologues in which the younger, successful Douglas straightens out his older, bitter self; and, at one point, there's even a fist-fight underscored by cartoon captions a' la the campy 1960s "Batman" TV series!! On the other hand, the film's production values - as is to be expected from a glossy studio product of its time - are tops.

Leonard Maltin strangely rates this one a BOMB in his "Movie Guide"; true, it may not be top-tier Kazan but it's nowhere near as bad as he seems to think it is. Curiously enough, I followed this viewing with the director's subsequent film, THE VISITORS (1972), also awarded the unenviable "bottom-of-the-barrel" accolade from the genial critic...though, in its case, it's a bit more understandable - as can be perceived from my own comments below!
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Gadj goes nutzoid
matt-20119 March 1999
Elia Kazan's 1969 midlife-crisis epic is an x-ray of American manhood gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. Kirk Douglas, icon of tortured machismo, plays Eddie Anderson, son of a tyrannical Greek merchant (Richard Boone) turned Madison Avenue sell-out. He sleeps in childlike separate beds with his wife (Deborah Kerr), who looks and acts more like his mother. He's obsessed with the one woman (Faye Dunaway) who looks at his barbered, Lavoris'd self and sees the Man He Could've Been. The sixties satire of Organization Man is stock, the bombast beats thick and hard, and, as per usual, Kazan can't resist the Big Moments that are thoroughbred Hollywood hokum. But it's impossible to deny that this is as anguishedly personal as any of Kazan's movies--and the machete hacking through the brush that cleared the way for Cassavetes, Scorsese and Ferrara. With its mod, PETULIA-style sets, balletic editing and penchant for stylized tricks, it's also the most goofily cinematic of Kazan's pictures--a Sam Fuller whirligig turned into a slick, upscale thirty-second spot.
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A master's worst...
JasparLamarCrabb4 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Two hours-plus of Kirk Douglas having a nervous breakdown. If that appeals to you then you're likely to enjoy Elia Kazan's idiotic adaption of his own novel. Presumably the book had some sort of deep meaning (at least to Kazan), but this film is a mess. Douglas is a highly regarded advertising exec will all the trappings of success: money; a beautiful home; 3 cars; Deborah Kerr as a wife. Playing 44(!) but actually closer to 54, Douglas is woefully miscast. His angst is never anything but comical and it manifests itself in the form of sexy Faye Dunaway (a free spirited girl who awakens in Douglas the need to find himself). Douglas grits his teeth a lot, Kerr is very under-utilized as his wife, Dunaway is never anything but angry and, as Douglas's father, Richard Boone comes across as if he were auditioning for the title role in a community theater production of "Zorba the Greek." Boone's casting is particularly baffling considering the fact that he's actually a year younger than Douglas! Despite offering up a lot of cinematic pyrotechnics like flashbacks, flash forwards, freeze frames and more, Kazan's film is silly rather than compelling. Hume Cronyn, Barry Sullivan and Michael Higgins are among the supporting cast. The high gloss cinematography is by Robert Surtees.
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Kazan loses his touch in a big way.
st-shot17 February 2009
The personnel in The Arrangement reminds me of the LA Lakers basketball team ( around the time this film was made) when they had Hall of Famers Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor on the same squad. There were great expectations for a team with three superstars but they never jelled as a unit and were a dismal failure overall. Such is the case with Elia Kazan's The Arrangement, a crashing, sloppy out of touch melodrama of marital infidelity and despair.

It would be hard to surpass the ten year run that Elia Kazan had a as film director from 1947-57. Just about everything he directed turned to gold and those that didn't then (Boomerang, Panic in the Streets, Face in the Crowd) have that respect today. In the early 60s he was still producing quality work (Splendor in the Grass, America,America) when he turned to writing a best seller (The Arrangement) eventually bringing it to the screen in the late sixties. Kazan, an actor's director if their ever was one and who translated the words and feelings of John Steinbeck and Tennessee Williams to film so well seemed to be at a loss with his own work and his ability to coax well measured performances out of his cast. Kirk Douglas, Deborah Kerr and Faye Dunaway are uniformly shrill from start to finish moping from one scene to another, making it hard to believe they could feel tenderness for anything. The scenes between Douglas and his mistress (Dunaway) lack intimacy and warmth, their passion forced. With his wife (Kerr) there is total detachment and not even a hint of why they got together in the first place. Kerr for her part seems like she's still in rehearsal. Lacking both sincerity and push she is badly miscast. Richard Boone as Eddie's overbearing old man adds to the disaster with complete over the top bombast, making a lot of noise and saying nothing that brings incite to the role.

Having failed at what he does best (directing actors) Kazan goes on to embarrass himself further by employing some of the latest techniques (including Batman pop art) to be au courant in this heady era of American film but in his hands he fumbles. Even the highly regarded cinematographer, John Surtees flounders with sloppy camera movement and uninspired compositions. It's as if everyone attached to the making of the Arrangement suffered from talent amnesia. Kazan had certainly lost his touch and The Arrangement in one full swoop symbolized that decline. As a film director he had nothing left in the tank.
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an interesting film, but not one of kazan's best..
bwam2mil28 April 2005
A sort of precursor to American Beauty and other modern fillms about dissatisfaction, Kazan's The Arrangment is an interesting attempt to characterize a man's deconstruction. Kirk Douglas plays Eddie, an advertising executive coming to terms with his job, his family, and his life's direction. Kazan experiments with montage, split narrative, and time span as he tells the story of a man looking for something new in life. The result is a compelling and relevant story about modern happiness that is broken apart by bizarre construction and confusing shot arrangement. Kazan has some interesting ideas here, but not all of them work. His split-consciousness portrayal of Eddie is sometimes confusing and distracting, as is the switch between past and present. Douglas is good as the lead; I don't see why Kazan would have chosen Brando in retrospect as I don't think it would have made much of a difference. Overall, a film worth seeing if you're a Kazan-freak, but otherwise stick with Streetcar, Eden, or Waterfront..
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I like this story...
JocMet16 September 1999
I know, it is for sure not Kazan's best film, it might be a bit lengthy. But if you like stories of people getting away from their former well-settled lives because they discover some truths about themselves, then you should definitely go and watch it. Faye Dunaway playing Gwen who makes Eddie (Kirk Douglas) change his way is simply stunning in her appearance.

Some of you will definitely think: "Oh god, if only this happened to me..!" (Read the book, I say..!)

I give it a 10, for the story which is, on the long run, the important thing.
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A baleful concoction...
moonspinner5530 March 2008
Old-fashioned melodrama longing to be flashy and modern. Director Elia Kazan, adapting his own bestseller, has assembled a terrific cast in story of a 44-year-old married advertising executive with a mistress who attempts suicide. Cold and detached, the film wants us to sympathize with a lot of people we might normally recoil from: the rich and privileged who live in a well-heeled vacuum. As Kirk Douglas' other woman, Faye Dunaway, who was featured in a slew of pictures from 1967-1969, was perilously at risk of being overexposed. She's gorgeously coiffed and manicured here, but her impassive face and personality don't involve the audience--and all of Douglas' striding up and down over her seems like a wasting disease. Kazan wants us to see the unsavory nature of these people, the office sharks and their suffering wives at the mercy of their whims, but the bitter 'truth' behind his portrait is heightened--just as it was in pictures like "Peyton Place"--and after a while it all begins to seem like a rancid put-on. ** from ****
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Kazan's last really good film
MOscarbradley6 June 2014
Elia Kazan made "The Arrangement" in 1969 after having first published it as a novel. It's a difficult film but ultimately a rewarding one. It begins along the lines of a rather heavy-handed satire on consumerism before turning into a very late sixties psychodrama about a mid-life crisis which Kazan chooses to film in the fractured style of a European art-movie. The central character is Eddie Anderson, (not his real name; he changed it from the original Greek), and from flashbacks we are lead to believe he's the son of the boy from "America, America" who has now become Richard Boone. The film opens with Eddie's bizarre suicide attempt when he drives his sports car under the wheels of a truck and as it moves forward, to some kind of redemption. It also keeps skipping back to the events in Eddie's past that have lead up to that moment when he felt his life was no longer worth living. Kirk Douglas plays Eddie superbly, in what is really a very difficult role. His long-suffering wife is an equally superb Deborah Kerr, mixing acidity and sweetness to an almost alarming degree as she tries to comprehend what it is that's driving her husband. In the role of Eddie's mistress Faye Dunaway is less successful simply because her character is too much of a contradiction; she seems to undergo a complete change of personality. However, there's fine work from Hume Cronyn as Eddie's slimy lawyer and Boone is splendid as the gruff, seemingly uncaring father. The movie itself wasn't a success and critics were heavily divided, many feeling that Kazan had stepped outside of his comfort zone and had largely failed. However, the magazine 'Films and Filming', a bible of British film criticism at the time, selected it as the year's best film from any source. It was hardly that but it is still Kazan's last really good movie, an utterly essential part of one of the great canons of work in world cinema and it certainly shouldn't be missed if you get the chance to see it.
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Middle Age Angst
bkoganbing10 May 2008
Elia Kazan may have bared his tortured soul in this autobiographical novel, but someone else was needed to bring it to the screen. Then again I'm not sure anyone could have made an entertaining film out of so dislikeable a subject.

The Arrangement is ostensibly Elia Kazan telling his story of his relationship with a tyrannical father which is the root cause of the middle aged angst he now faces. Our protagonist is not a celebrated film director, but Kirk Douglas a rich and successful advertising executive who one fine day decides to go out in the way that Princess Diana did.

It was not as fatal as poor Diana's crash. But all through this film you kind of wish he'd been put out of his misery. This man is selfish beyond all comprehension, narcissistic to the last exponent. Kirk Douglas has played some pretty rotten people on the screen, but even the cold blooded bank-robber/killer he played in his next film, There Was A Crooked Man, had far more going for him than this one.

He's married to Deborah Kerr who was coming up short with decent film roles in the latter part of the Sixties. She's the long suffering wife in this one and initially you feel sorry for her. But after a while I got the impression she was just glorying in her martyrdom as the long suffering wife. Douglas even knocks up his mistress Faye Dunaway and even after she gives birth and the child is thrown in her face, she won't leave him.

What she'd rather do is scheme with family lawyer Hume Cronyn and family doctor Harold Gould to get Douglas sent to the booby hatch. Not that he isn't giving them all plenty of good reason.

Richard Boone is Douglas's father and he blusters and shouts his way through the part the Anthony Quinn does in his more bravura roles. Kazan didn't have a tight rein on the cast. Or perhaps they knew this film was a travesty and each was determined to overact and be noticed the most.

Not the finest hour for all the talented people involved.
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The beginning of the end for Kazan
vincentlynch-moonoi17 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
This is a film to savor, because it demonstrates just how bad a film can really be, even when on paper its casting and the director make it look like it will be memorable. Everyone makes mistakes. For an actor, or in this case a director, one big mistake can effectively end a distinguished career. This film was director Elia Kazan's big mistake. And although he lived another 33 years, he only made two more films, and only one of those was memorable. And that's not just my opinion. In the Wikipedia article about this film, it is stated that, "The critics were overwhelmingly negative when the film came out."

First off, Kazan tried to make the film look very 1970s-ish; and that only resulted in a film that today looks very, very dated.

The problem isn't the acting, which I felt was quite good. Kirk Douglas does fine as the man in the midst of a nervous breakdown. While I can't quite say that Douglas' performance is restrained (can we ever say that about Douglas?), it is not over the top, either.

I was never particularly impressed with Faye Dunaway, but this was a good as any of her performances that I recall, and frankly, I didn't remember her being that attractive (of course, she was only 28 here). Deborah Kerr's acting was fine here, although I wish she hadn't accepted the very non-flattering role. Richard Boone and Hume Cronyn turned in good performances, as well.

The problem with this film is where it came from -- the mind of Elia Kazan. I'll tell you definitively -- since this film and his book that it was based on has been considered semi-autobiographical, he's a man I wouldn't want to have known. It came from his mind -- a very dark, unattractive place, unwelcoming, sad, and filled with bitterness and disillusionment. No thank you.

One of the few films I've watched in a very long time that I wished I hadn't watched at all.
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Tired and Trashy
kenjha3 April 2009
A rich executive experiences a mid-life crisis, tries to chuck it all, and rekindles a relationship with a co-worker. The cast is pretty good: Douglas as the weary executive, Kerr as his understanding wife, and especially Dunaway as his mistress. Kerr boldly bares more than her soul. Also on hand are Boone and Cronyn, but the entire cast is wasted in this nonsensical drama. Kazan tries to liven things up with slick, annoyingly amateurish camera work but fails miserably, not helped by the lackluster source material, the director's own trashy, best-selling novel. The plot is rambling and uninteresting and the film drags on much too long.
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I did not like this movie
esugz13 August 2005
I was on an overnight pass from the Army in 1969 when this movie was playing. My buddies and I thought it might be a good movie. We were starved for entertainment. This movie was so disappointing. It was too heavy for us, We were about to leave for Vietnam and wanted to see something light. Maybe I was too young or it was the events of my life at the time. But we all thought it was bad. I have remembered this movie all my life, as it was the last one I saw in the US. I do admit the the cast was good, that was why we chose that one. I have always liked Kirk. But in the end we found it depressing. I would watch it again if it ever came on TV, Just so that I could make another judgment after all these years.
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An arrangement that has no taste
TheLittleSongbird29 May 2020
'The Arrangement' was one of the very few Elia Kazan films to be near-uniformally panned critically when first released at the time. Even the slightly more complimentary reviews were generally mixed at best. Over-time it has garnered more praise with some considering it underrated, and the rather than completely panning the film the critical reception became and still is a little more mixed. Though with a lot of people still disliking it.

Sadly, for me 'The Arrangement' was a real disappointment. Really like to love almost all of Kazan's films and have always admired his direction of actors and how he tackled heavy and still relevant subject (am very big on this by the way, especially recently). It does not give me pleasure criticising 'The Arrangement' and words cannot describe how much there was the want to go against the grain (have been known to), but this just didn't work for me on most levels. To me, it was the film that started Kazan's decline in film quality, one of the few films of his to not feel like a Kazan film and a contender for his worst.

Did think that some of the scenery and art direction were nice and easy on the eyes. The music has well fitting and pleasant moments.

Hume Cronyn at least looks engaged and gives his part some spirit and edge without taking anything to extremes.

It is a shame though that the same cannot be said for the rest of the cast, how Kazan worked so well with actors and had a great reputation as "an actor's director" considered then and now as one of the best at it is not obvious at all here. Evident from how a cast that had talented and experienced performers gave performances that made them look like first timers or actors out of their depth. Cronyn excepted, all are made to either overact (Richard Boone) or look completely detached from the proceedings (Faye Dunaway) and the complete waste of the most experienced person in the cast Deborah Kerr is unforgivable.

Will say that in all fairness they do struggle to do anything with such an over-worked and consequently tired script that lacks any kind of wit or elegance. As well as with very unsympathetic and one-dimensional characters that one doesn't give a toss about. Along with 'The Sea of Grass' and 'The Visitors', 'The Arrangement' is one of the few Kazan to not feel like it was directed by Kazan. His distinctive style is nowhere in sight. The production values are mostly cheap and look like a mix of failed experiments at various techniques camerawork-wise. The music has moments but definitely could have done with a toning down.

Kazan has handled difficult themes (far braver ones than the ones here) with much more taste and sensitivity before, although mid-life crises and infidelity are not out of date today the approach to them are here. This is the sort of execution that would have been out of date in the 50s and actually would have preferred the sophisticated and frothy approach and not the distasteful and over-loud one seen here in 'The Arrangement'. The story is absurd and often very difficult to follow due to being a mess of styles and tone.

Overall, a big disappointment and one of Kazan's few misfires. 3/10
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The Last Tycoon
tieman6428 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Based on his own novel, and rumoured to be semi-autobiographical, "The Arrangement" is a 1969 drama by director Elia Kazan.

The plot? Kirk Douglas plays Eddie Anderson, an advertising executive who suffers an existential crisis. Finding his success, money and mansions to be but hollow testaments to a career founded on deceit, Eddie grows to hate himself. He attempts suicide.

"The Arrangement" is routinely mocked for its aesthetic, which awkwardly blends realism, surrealism, drama, comedy, satire, 1960s garishness and lots of intrusive camera tricks. These criticisms are all true. But "The Arrangement" also feels like a very personal film, it has a certain wisdom about it, and Kazan sketches a number of sublime little moments. In Kazan's hands, Eddie becomes a man elevated by the very post-war capitalism which fills him with self-loathing. Seeking escape, he thus gets himself thrown into a mental hospital, where he spends his days outdoors, looking up at the sky. With the whole world insane, poor Eddie has finally found some semblance of sanity.

"I coulda had class, I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody instead of a bum," a character says in Kazan's "On the Waterfront". In "The Arrangement", of course, Eddie "has class". He is "somebody". He has escaped the waterfronts and slums of his fathers and forefathers before him. But what then?

A jaded communist, Kazan's films have often explicitly been "about America", "about American values" and "about the way America changes". They're preoccupied with frustrated masculinity, middle-aged malaise and the trappings of both poverty and wealth. "The Arrangement" goes beyond these themes in that it was also part of a loose trilogy of films by Kazan, all about the aspirations of American immigrants and businessmen. The first of these film was "America, America", which watched as hopeful immigrants crossed the seas and reached out for the welcoming arms of the United States. Here, in the Land of Opportunity, they dream of forging better lives. Kazan's "The Arrangement" subverts this optimism. Replacing hope with dejection, the film undercut the dreams and aspirations of first and second generation immigrants, and portrays the American Dream as something duplicitous and ultimately destructive. Next came "The Last Tycoon", a film about a successful movie producer whose climb to the top comes at a heavy price. Ironically, the financial failure of "Tycoon" would spur Kazan into retirement.

7/10 – See Kazan's "Wild River", Ray's "Bigger than Life" and "The Swimmer"(1968).
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polabaker28 October 2006
After having read the book, and the descriptions Elia Kazan makes of Gwen Hunt and Charles, I got the feeling that he was describing the personalities of Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller. If you read the biographies of Elia Kazan and Arthur Miller, it was Elia Kazan who introduced Marilyn Monroe to Arthur Miller. At that time Elia Kazan was having an affair with Marilyn Monroe. There seemed to have developed a ¨menage a trois¨ between Elia Kazan, Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller¨ as in the description where after Marilyn makes love to Elia Kazan, they both look at a photo of Arthur Miller on the night table and talk about him. It is not surprising now that Arthur Miller chose Elia Kazan as the director for his 1964 play AFTER THE FALL at Lincoln Center. Who else knew Marilyn better than Elia Kazan? They were both in love with her at the same time (early 195os). AFTER THE FALL is based on Marilyn Monroe. Did anyone else identify Gwen and Charles with Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller.
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Kirk Douglas plays a corporate executive suffering from a mid-life crisis
jacobs-greenwood13 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
It's ironic that Kirk Douglas's frequent co-star Burt Lancaster starred in a similar drama about a corporate executive's mid-life crisis (the origins of this term now used frequently for such men?) one year earlier titled The Swimmer (1968). Both films are unusual, introspective and lack wide appeal, the latter being superior to this overlong melodrama that was based on the popular novel by Elia Kazan, who also produced and directed it; still, it contains a certain truth if one is patient enough to wait almost two hours for it.

The movie is rated R for several snippets of nudity, mostly at a distance and/or through sheer curtains except for a beach scene featuring Douglas with his character's mistress, second-billed Faye Dunaway, who each cover up the other's most private parts with their hands. It's interesting to note that frequent on screen "bad girl" Dunaway would earn her only Best Actress Oscar seven years later playing a similar role as network executive William Holden's muse- mistress in Network (1976).

Eddie Anderson (Douglas) is a rainmaker advertising executive that appears to have everything going for him including a beautiful loyal wife Florence (Deborah Kerr) who tolerates his extramarital indiscretions, though she realizes that her husband's relationship with Gwen (Dunaway) was something more than just a physical one. Gwen had helped Eddie realize that he'd sold his soul to the devil for his multimillion dollar client, a tobacco company whose cigarette advertisements play constantly on every radio and television station. So, not liking who'd he'd become, Eddie attempts suicide. He survives and then refuses to go back to work; his wife thinks it's all about Gwen, but at that point Eddie hadn't seen her for more than a year. His mistress had become too demanding, so Eddie had discarded her when she'd refused to be controlled by him.

The plot develops slowly and the story is told out of sequence at times, featuring odd and intentionally comical edits, but we eventually learn about Eddie's other demons. For instance, his immigrant father Sam (Richard Boone) had been a successful merchant that fought with Eddie's mother over her son's education. Sam had always wanted Eddie to assume the family business but his protective mother had sent him to become college educated instead.

But as Sam is dying, Eddie is the one that his father wants by his side. He's reunited with Gwen, who's living with a dependable man that protects her (though she gets her sex elsewhere) and her newborn child, which looks a little like Eddie. Additionally, the Anderson's lawyer Arthur (Hume Cronyn) manipulates Eddie during his vulnerable time to gain financial advantage for Florence, for whom the lawyer carries a secret torch. There are other characters, but most will recognize Harold Gould plays Florence's therapist Dr. Leibman and Michael Murphy as the "last rites" Father Draddy.
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Warning: The Surgeon General Has Determined That Selling Cigarettes May Be Dangerous To Your Mental Health
elucidations25 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
How do you sugar-coat Cancer? Eddie Anderson (Kirk Douglas) does it by claiming the 'Zephyr' brand of cigarette (made by his ad company's million-dollar client) is CLEAN. Eddie has gotten rich by selling cigarettes, by selling Cancer (a word he goes out of his way to avoid saying), by saying cigarettes are CLEAN.

That's why Eddie is unhappy, alienated, suicidal, and DIRTY.

Elia Kazan (and yes, I too have conflicted feelings about the man) makes a film that shows an ad genius who gets rich and powerful, but he's guilt-stricken, and he takes himself down, even tries to take himself out.

They still had cigarette advertising on radio and television back in 1969 (when this film was made), and you hear similar ads occasionally in this movie, extolling the pleasures and wonders of 'Zephyr' cigarettes, with copy written by Eddie Anderson himself... you heard those ads repeatedly, on Eddie's car radio, just before he drove his convertible sports car under the wheels of a tractor-trailer.

It is a screed against advertising and selling cigarettes, wrapped in the mid-life crisis of a man who does just that, and it causes Eddie to walk away from his fabulously high-paying gig as an ad genius, in the process laughing right in the mortified faces of the cigarette company executives, telling them essentially "I can't do it anymore, I can't sell Cancer anymore."

I give it nine stars, reluctantly taking one star away, due to what seemed a too fast narrative between the scene where Eddie has a serious and honest conversation in a hotel room with his wife (Deborah Kerr), which suddenly gets violent, and in the next scene he's appearing before an inquest of some kind, with his arm in a sling, and I wondered if he was hurt in the struggle with his wife, only to learn he was shot, TWICE, at the apartment of Gwen (Faye Dunaway), by the somewhat creepy Charles standing scarily in the shadows, followed shortly by a scene showing Eddie burning down his house.

The speed of the narrative at that point almost gave me whiplash. I also thought it caught a little bit of the hip (hippie) look of the late sixties, primarily in Gwen's poster-decorated apartment.
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Mostly Incomprehensible Film
mrb198013 August 2018
I guess "The Arrangement" has some merit-after all, it showcases late 1960s southern California quite well-but overall the movie is an all-star disaster due to its confusing structure and its incredibly muddled story.

Los Angeles advertising executive Eddie Anderson (Kirk Douglas) has a nervous breakdown and tries to commit suicide by driving his sports car under a semi. The rest of the film flashes back to Anderson's childhood, his relationship with his dying father (Richard Boone, who was actually YOUNGER than Douglas), his deteriorating marriage with his wife (Deborah Kerr), and his torrid affair with a co-worker (Faye Dunaway). Along the way the flashbacks were very difficult to track and even harder to understand. Boone's character doesn't do much besides lie in bed, and Deborah Kerr chews the scenery as the cheated wife.

I lost track of how many times the story flashed back, and I never did understand what the point of the movie was. The late 1960s time period touches were great, but otherwise I didn't really gain any understanding of the characters. Hume Cronyn, as Anderson's attorney, had about the only decent role in the whole film. If you decide to watch this mess of a film, be prepared for a lesson in confusion and expect to feel pretty empty afterward.
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